George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher: Vocals
Erik Rutan: Guitar
Rob Barrett: Guitar
Alex Webster: Bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz: Drums
Since 1988, Cannibal Corpse have been at the forefront of death metal, shaping and defining the genre, creating a seminal, incomparable body of work over the following decades. In 2021 they raised the stakes again with their 15th album, Violence Unimagined, growing ever more complex and intense, and in 2023 they return with its successor, the equally monstrous Chaos Horrific, starting a new chapter in their legacy. Written shortly after the conclusion of the Violence Unimagined sessions (due to the pandemic keeping them off tour), echoes of that album exist in Chaos Horrific, but this is a whole new beast of its own. "To me this album feels sort of like a continuation of Violence Unimagined. The style is quite similar, but individually none of the songs on Chaos Horrific sound like songs on Violence Unimagined," says bassist Alex Webster. "It's a full-on death metal album, Cannibal Corpse style."
The band have always been noted for technicality and complex songwriting, but that doesn't define where the writing process takes them. "I believe that our songwriting has progressed in a manner where every song paves its own path, whether it's a straightforward or technical song. Sometimes it's a mix of both, so there's no preconceived idea that we want to be more technical. The music just sort of takes its own course," explains guitarist Rob Barrett.
Adds Webster, "I don't think there was any conscious effort to make things more technical, so if it wound up that way it would just be a natural result of us trying to write the heaviest songs we could." Cannibal Corpse had no master plan, approaching each track with an open mind, intent on writing the best songs possible. "I never go into a record thinking about anything, I just write and create and let the writing flow freely with no limitations," says guitarist/producer Erik Rutan. "But this time, one thing I knew was that I wanted to push the envelope a bit in a different direction than Violence Unimagined; expand the dynamics, explore new territory without departing from what Cannibal Corpse is and always shall be." The band continue to uphold their legacy as they sonically progress and evolve with each and every release, never repeating themselves and working hard to make every song unique. "We've certainly made technical advances over the years, but where I think we've grown the most is in songwriting," says Webster. "We try to use all of our skill and experience to make the best songs we can--heavy, diverse, and memorable. We want to make albums where every song could potentially be the standout song, and where each song has its own character."
He's produced six Cannibal Corpse albums--starting with 2006's Kill--and this is Rutan's second release as a full-fledged member, since officially joining in 2020. "He already was part of the Cannibal Corpse family, so his transition from producer to guitarist/songwriter/producer was seamless," says Webster. "Erik's a super hard worker so somehow he's able to do all of those things at the highest level. We were already very comfortable working with him, and it's only gotten better. We're energized and excited about the future, and Erik's contributions are a big part of that."
Adds Rutan, "I feel like every album we've worked on together has progressed forward with a better understanding of each other, allowing us to push each other even further to get the best out of one another."
Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz named the record, and the musicians all felt it was a great representation of the band. Cannibal Corpse typically lyrically linger in dark and twisted territory, and Chaos Horrific is no exception. Subjects covered include resetting the human race through mass mutilations ("Blood Blind"), fighting off hordes of zombies ("Chaos Horrific"), the selection of a random individual to be dismembered and sacrificed ("Summoned For Sacrifice"), and the violent revenge of victims of human trafficking ("Vengeful Invasion"). The album artwork--by longtime collaborator Vince Locke--is also suitably Cannibal Corpse-esque, featuring a chaotic tangle of the living and the undead, evoking the lyrics of the title track.
Tracking at Rutan's Mana Studio in Florida, the band's home state, was comfortable for all involved, who were at the top of their game and ready to give it their all. Things went smoothly, and smoother than ever on the guitar front thanks to Barrett and Rutan having "custom guitars built with longer scale necks to hold the proper intonation necessary for lower tunings," says Barrett. "That drastically reduced the hours spent trying to track, with a guitar that stays in tune throughout the session."
Webster confirms the hard work behind Chaos Horrific, noting that the toughest aspect for him was "just locking in tightly with some of the picking the guitars are doing. I play bass finger-style, so sometimes matching the picking and keeping things tight can be tough." Rutan describes the sessions as "powerhouse," with the massive effort resulting in an equally a gigantic record. "Everything about recording albums is hard, but damn, I love doing it!" Webster says. "Creating albums, something that will last an eternity beyond our time, is something so very special, and every album we create I feel very grateful to have such an opportunity to do so."
With the pandemic behind them, Cannibal Corpse were thrilled to hit the road again in 2022, finally able to unleash the Violence Unimagined tracks live. "We're so grateful to be able to get back out there and play for all of our fans," says Webster. "We've always enjoyed it, but after being forced off of the road for almost two years we appreciate the opportunity to play live that much more, and we are so thankful for all the fans who've come out to the shows since we've been back at it. It's great to see you all again!"
They are already looking ahead to the touring in support of Chaos Horrific, with every track destined to go off like a bomb when played live, Cannibal Corpse primed and ready to destroy everything in their path. While 2023 is the band's 35th anniversary, they're mostly excited about the present and future. That said, Rutan sums up the band members' feeling about the impressive milestone. "I think it's such an amazing feat. It speaks to the work ethic and dedication that everyone has put into Cannibal Corpse. When you think about how many bands never make it a decade, let alone three plus, it is such a testament to the creativity aspect and determination and loyalty towards what we do."