Cannibal Corpse draws influence from thrash metal bands such as Slayer, Anthrax, Kreator, Sodom, and other death metal bands like Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Death, and Obituary. Inspired by horror fiction stories and films, the band has gained infamy around the world for their controversial subject matter, including lyrics and album art that depict cannibalism, gore, masochism, murder, mutilation, necrophilia, rape, torture, and zombies. As a result, the band has faced international censorship. They have been banned numerous times from playing live altogether, and in less severe cases, songs have been banned individually.
“The main thing that helped us [get signed to Metal Blade] was sending the label a videotape of our live show. The crowd reaction and our energy helped us to the extreme.”- Jack Owen
The band has had many line-up changes over the years. In 1993, founding member and guitarist Bob Rusay was dismissed from the group (after which he became a golf instructor) and was ultimately replaced by Malevolent Creation guitarist Rob Barrett. In 1995, vocalist Chris Barnes was dismissed from the band (becoming a member of Six Feet Under and later Torture Killer) and was replaced with Monstrosity's vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher.
On the departure of Chris Barnes (From a 1995 interview): "There's been problems off and on for several years but we'd all been getting along for the past year and everything was fine but then we thought if we kept Chris in the band the band couldn't get any better in the vocal performance and the overall way things were sounding. We weren't totally happy with some of the things Chris had written, we wanted things that were more patterned and easier to remember and Chris was doing some whacked out stuff that didn't fit the rhythms of the songs. It seemed like he wasn't quite as interested as he once was in the band. The whole point of being in a good band is every musician should do their best to make the other guys in the band feel happy playing with him. If I was playing something or wrote something that the other guys didn't like I'd want them to tell me. It needed to be a team and we were not a team, it was the four of us and Chris. Now it's a team, not to sound corny, but it is."- Alex Webster
In 1997, Barrett, who originally replaced Rusay on guitar, left Cannibal Corpse to rejoin his previous band Malevolent Creation. After Barrett left, he was replaced by guitarist Pat O’Brien who first appeared on their 1998 release Gallery of Suicide. Founding member and guitarist Jack Owen left Cannibal Corpse in 2004 to spend more time on his second band, Adrift. He joined the band Deicide in late 2005 and was first featured on the album, The Stench of Redemption. Jeremy Turner of Origin briefly replaced him as second guitarist on 2004's Tour of the Wretched. Barrett rejoined the band in 2005 and is featured on their latest album, Kill, which was released March 21, 2006 on Metal Blade Records.
Writing for a new album began in November 2007, as presaged in an interview with bassist Alex Webster. According to an interview in MetalUnderground.com the release period is likely to be late 2008 .
“I think the lyrics are just like Stephen King or Clive Barker, (what) any horror novelist would do except I shorten it and I go right to the point instead of putting so much fill-in-the-blanks.”- Chris Barnes
Australian Family Association vice-president Gillian Gonzalez said Cannibal Corpse have the most offensive lyrics she had ever seen, saying "They are absolutely vile and should not be allowed into the country". "If vomit were a movie, this would be the soundtrack," wrote one critic of Cannibal Corpse's music.
Like directors who helm splatter movies, Cannibal Corpse prides itself on overtly violent and sexual songs and album artwork as nothing more than an extreme form of over-the-top entertainment. In the film Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, George Fisher said death metal is best viewed "as art", and mentioned that far more violent art can be found at the Vatican, as such depictions actually happened. Some of Cannibal Corpse's most controversial song titles include "Dismembered and Molested", "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's Cunt," "Fucked with a Knife," "Meat Hook Sodomy," and "Necropedophile"." They were banned from displaying the cover art or lyrics of and playing any of the songs from their first 3 albums in Germany until 2006 because "A woman saw someone wearing one of our shirts, I think she is a schoolteacher, and she just caused this big stink about it. So [now] we can’t play anything from the first three records. And it really sucks because kids come up and they want us to play all the old songs — and we would — but they know the deal. We can’t play ‘Born In a Casket’ but can play ‘Dismembered and Molested."- George Fisher.
“If people weren’t interested in this kind of thing, then why is it… They do hour-long documentaries and they run those all evening long. And it’ll be about prison, or they’ll have a special about child molesters, and then they’ll have a special about murderers. And this is a major station... And it’s like, well, a lot of people seem to be interested in it or they wouldn’t show it, because that’s the bottom line – they’re not going to show it if they’re not getting good ratings. So, people are interested in the dark side... people like to be horrified; they like to be scared. I mean, you wouldn’t have, for example, a frightening ride at a theme park or something... They want to see frightening things at a safe distance.”- Alex Webster
When asked about violence in the real world, Alex Webster commented: “I think people probably aren’t that desensitized to it, you know including myself, like you know, we sing about all this stuff and you watch a movie where you know it’s not real and it’s no big deal, but if you really saw someone get their brains bashed in right in front of you, I think it would have a pretty dramatic impact on any human being you know what I mean? Or some terrible, gross act of violence or whatever done right in front of you, I mean you’d react to it, no matter how many movies you’ve watched or how much gore metal you’ve listened to or whatever, I’m sure it’s a completely different thing when it’s right in front of you. Even though we’ve got crazy entertainment now, our social realities are actually a bit more civilized than they were back then, I mean we’re not hanging people or whipping them in the street and I think that’s positive improvement for any society in my opinion.” He also believes that the violent lyrics can have positive values: "It’s good to have anger music as a release".
George Fisher said that in their songs: "There’s nothing ever serious. We’re not thinking of anybody in particular that we’re trying to kill, or harm or anything." "How can you say we’re promoting violence with imaginary creatures? The people doing the killing in our songs are zombies.
As far as setups, Pat likes Mesa/Boogie amplifiers, I usually use a Digitech preamp, and Pat uses EMG pickups. I like passive pickups a little better, such as Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio.|30|30|Jack Owen