DB HOF NO. 40
The making of Cannibal Corpse’s “Tomb of the Mutilated”
released: September 1992
label: Metal Blade
“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women,” so said Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan in 1982’s Conan the Barbarian when asked, “What is best in life?” The aforementioned quote could’ve come from Buffalo’s Cannibal Corpse after they released the all-powerful, superlatively offensive Tomb of the Mutilated 10 years later. See, Tomb, as lauded and reviled as it was, altered death metal forever. It was the future—immediate and long-term—and nobody saw it. To be fair, Cannibal Corpse weren’t the first to use horror movies, serial killers, the evening news and overactive imaginations to power music and image. That honor goes, in part, to Repulsion, Autopsy, Impetigo, Macabre and pre-Heartwork Carcass. What Cannibal Corpse unwittingly did, specifically on Tomb, is take disparate concepts (music, lyrics, art, touring, merchandise, distribution) and roll them into one gigantic, pus/bile-gushing machine that everyone from the record-buying public to idea-starved bands wanted a piece of.
As a record, Cannibal Corpse’s third splatter-platter runs like a no-no highlight reel at PMRC and 700 Club meetings. Musically, it’s jarring, alien and nearly incomprehensible. Lyrically, well, the Germans—who enjoy scat porn and strap-on sex with animatronic dinosaurs—felt it was verboten. And artistically, as in Vincent Locke’s gut-wrenchingly good cover, it proved the Germans weren’t the only ones getting kinky in candlelight. Basically, Tomb of the Mutilated was the most grotesque, yet commercially viable, death metal album ever. It made soccer moms scream and their kids wonder if sheer possession alone could lead marathon family counseling sessions.
Of course, for every mention of “Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s Cunt,” what really set Cannibal Corpse apart was album opener “Hammer Smashed Face.” Heavy, heavy, heavy. And catchy, too. As in H5N1 catchy. It’s the death metal equivalent of “Stayin’ Alive” with less Gibb and more grisly giblets. And then there’s the movie deal. While Slayer jammed in front of Giza, Cannibal landed an appearance in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. They only got a few frames in the theatrical release, but “Hammer Smashed Face” was given worldwide exposure. Big-time stuff for a small-time band. This alone is Hall of Fame-worthy, but we must be judicious. Tomb of the Mutilated is this month’s inductee simply because it ruled. Cannibal fuckin’ Corpse, dudes!
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