Monday 29 September 2014

"Bible of Butchery" CANNIBAL CORPSE by Joel McIver (Book Review)

In addition to releasing their thirteenth full-length album, "A Skeletal Domain," the death metal icons will also be releasing their official autobiography on September 16th. "Bible of Butchery: The Official Biography" was written by Joel McIver, the author of Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica and biographies on Black Sabbath, Slayer, Slipknot, and Queens Of The Stone Age. The book spans 150 pages, includes a forward written by drum legend Gene Hoglan, and is loaded with photos from throughout the Cannibal Corpse and Metal Blade Records archives. The book is available now for $19.99 plus shipping at

Excerpts from "Bible of Butchery: The Official Biography":

"Together with the band name that I came up with, and all the crazy cannibal films that we liked, we thought that should be the focus. Cannibal Corpse was a reanimated body which consumes other humans: the theme of the band was spelled out for us right there." - Alex Webster
"I've always been a smartass on stage. A lot of people who came to see me in Corpsegrinder were my friends, and they would be constantly breaking my balls when I was on stage, so I used to have to give shit back to them, which in hindsight probably helped with what I do now." - George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher

"When Rob Barrett quit Cannibal Corpse in 1997, the slot came up for a guitarist. I went down there and learned the songs and played them with the band, but it was funny: they didn't tell me if I'd got the gig or not. I kept learning the songs and playing them with them, but they wouldn't tell me for the longest time if I was in or not! They were like "We're not sure" and then finally I said, "Have I got the gig or not?" and they told me I had." - Pat O'Brien

"I wanted to know how music was made: I'd be glued to the guitar players and watch how they played. Then a friend of my brother sold me his guitar, a Gibson L6S which I bought for $12. I used to pretend I was playing it. Even when I was a little kid I used to play air guitar on tennis rackets. Then I tried a guitar that belonged to a friend of mine in a band, and played along note for note with the song they were playing. The guys in the band freaked out and told me I had to get a guitar. Then in 1985 I begged my mom for a guitar—"Please mom, I'll never ask you for anything again!"—and I got a Cort Flying V and a practice amp." - Rob Barrett


I have always taken an active interest in finding out a little more about the music I like- not just listening to it. For those of a similar mindset, this book is perfect for you. This is no “Hammer of The Gods”-esque lurid account, and nor is it a boredom inducing compendium of tour itineraries and release dates. It sits somewhere in between those two music biography extremes. At 170 pages with plenty of photos, it is fairly slim. Indeed, reading it on a commute or in the privacy of your own home is a task that is achievable in a few hours total. As a companion to the back catalogue of Cannibal Corpse it works very well.
You get a kind of profile of each band member, a history of the band, a few tour stories and pages of lyrics with song-writing explanations and inspiration from the relevant band members regarding the lyrical themes.  Throughout, Joel McIver keeps pushing the point that the members of Cannibal Corpse are just “normal” blokes in their forties and not serial killers. This is, of course, true and is also blindingly obvious. Simply put: if the members of Cannibal Corpse committed the acts described in their songs they would not be touring internationally or anywhere at all. They would be in prison. McIver and the band do point out, more sensibly, that Cannibal Corpse’s songs are horror stories set to music- nobody censors books and even film censorship has dropped off considerably in recent years, so why does music still come in for so much scrutiny?

It is interesting that Cannibal Corpse have come in for so much intrusive censorship and scrutiny over the years. The fact that they were banned from playing songs from the first three albums in Germany for well over a decade is both ridiculous and incomprehensible. They are currently having problems over in Russia (I am more scared of the Russian state than Cannibal Corpse, for sure). No one is claiming that the band are bastions of free speech and/or political activists- least of all the band themselves- but the mirror that this holds up to the rest of society does not flatter. As the band point out, the things they write about as extreme and macabre horror really do happen and the media and the public are rabidly interested when it does.
The revelations contained within this tome are a worthy read- the pounding intro to Hammer Smashed Face brought to mind the impact and rhythm of a hammer; hence the title- while the band members do come across as well adjusted and nice people and family men. Pat O’Brien, we learn, likes to go to the gym and will not drink before a show; Alex Webster practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a few years, various members are either outgoing and sociable or more reclusive and mellow. Indeed, the everyman angle pushed by the author seems wholly accurate. The members of Cannibal Corpse are regular guys- huge metal fans from their teens (like most reading this), they took up playing instruments as they felt compelled to do so and then forged ahead into a full blown career.
The tour stories are along the lines of drinking and fighting- which is exactly what you would expect- but are not plentiful. You get the feeling that being on the road with Cannibal Corpse is like an enjoyable work road trip rather than a non-stop whirlwind of going on nights out with Tommy Lee.  This isn’t Metallica; no private jets or drug habits here; you get a band that lives either in the studio or on the road. Webster’s remarks about specificity when writing lyrics are interesting, as are the band’s view on themselves and their position in the metal world. They are down to earth and know exactly what they are all about and how they are perceived. Did I know more after reading this than I did before? Absolutely. Is this book a must read? If you are a fan, then yes. In terms of information, I have seen the 3hr Centuries of Torment documentary disc and found it a comprehensive mine of information on the band’s evolution- more in depth on history than what is on offer here in print, definitely.  It’s also worth noting that only current members contribute here- unlike the aforementioned DVD doc, which limits insight. 

Yes, there are a fair few photos and if you own the albums physically then you most likely own all the lyrics too. That aside, this is perfect reading to go with their new record “A Skeletal Domain.” If you wanted to know more about how the band operates, how the songs are written and what inspires the musicians, then this is for you. Personally, I enjoyed it hugely and will most likely refer to it again when something in their back catalogue piques my interest. All in all.... a bloody good read (ha!).
Words by: Richard Maw

You can pick up a copy here
For more information:
Tour w/Hour of Penance
09/07   Perth, AU                      Capitol
09/08   Fowlers, AU                   Adelaide
09/09   Melbourne, AU               Billboard
09/10   Sydney, AU                     The Metro
09/11   Brisbane, AU                  HiFi
End Tour
09/17   Tokyo, JP                      Liquid Room
09/18   Nagoya, JP                    ELL
09/19   Osaka, JP                      Club Quattro
09/20   Hiroshima, JP                Club Quattro

w/ Revocation, Aeon
10/14   Jyvaskyla, FI                  Lutakko
10/15   Helsinki, FI                   Nosturi
10/17   Stockholm, SE                Debaser Strand
10/18   Oslo, NO                       Vulkan Arena
10/19   Gothenburg, SE              Sticky Fingers
10/21   Zwolle, NL                    Hedon
10/22   Saarbrücken, DE            Garage
10/23   Lyon, FR                        Ninksi Kao
10/24   Barcelona, ES                Razzmatazz 2
10/25   Madrid, ES                     Arena
10/27   Toulouse, FR                  Le Bikini
10/28   Paris, FR                       Trabendo
10/29   Strasbourg, FR               La Laiterie
10/30   Antwerp, BE                  Trix
10/31   London, GB                   Forum
11/01   Leeds, GB                      Damnation Festival *No Revocation, Aeon
11/02   Lille, FR                                    Splendid
11/04   Frankfurt, DE                Batschkapp
11/05   Ludwigsburg, DE            Rockfabrik
11/06   Osnabrück, DE               Rosenhof
11/07   Hamburg, DE                 Klubsen
11/08   Aalborg, DK                   Metal Festival
11/09   Copenhagen, DK            Amager Bio
11/11   Berlin, DE                      C-Club
11/12   Prague, CZ                    Club Roxy
11/13   München, DE                 Backstage
11/14   Glauchau, DE                 AlteSpinnerei
11/15   Brno, CZ                        Fleda
11/16   Cracow, PL                    Fabryka
11/17   Warsaw, PL                    Progresja
11/19   Graz, AT                       Explosiv
11/20   Budapest, HU                 Club 202
11/21   Zilina, SK                      KlubSmer
11/22   Wien, AT                       Szene
11/23   Nova Gorica, SI              Mostovna Club
11/25   Treviso, IT                     New Age
11/26   Milan, IT                       Alcatrazz
11/27   Lausanne, CH                Les Docks
11/28   Pratteln, CH                  Z7
11/29   Bochum, DE                   Matrix
11/30   Uden, NL                       De Pul

70000 Tons of Metal Cruise
01/22-01/26     Ft. Lauderdale, FL         Info/tickets at