Cannibal Corpse have delivered one serious ravenous beast for their 16th studio opus. I would even go as far as to say this could very well be their finest moment since 2006’s ‘Kill’.
Don’t’ get me wrong, Cannibal Corpse don’t do bad albums. In fact, they have one of the most solid discographies under the “METAL” umbrella regardless of what sub-genre we’re talking about.
The contents of ‘Violence Unimagined‘ is about as primal and visceral as one can imagine without hammering the quality of sound. It’s bursting with brutality and unfathomable aggression and it’s fucking glorious!
Speaking from his home in Florida, original member, co-founder and drummer, Paul Mazurkiewicz kicks back and talks about the new album and so much more…
OD – Let’s go back to when the writing began for ‘Violence Unimagined’, can you give me a brief timeline of when it began to where it was completed?
MAZURKIEWICZ – We always spend around 6 months trying to write and get the songs together and then we hit the studio. That’s always been our method. So, ‘The Red Before Black‘ tour ended in late 2019, just before Christmas and we then decided to get into the studio a little quicker than usual for April 2020 and at that point that’s when that all the touring stopped; due to the pandemic.
The way we work is that everybody usually does their own writing remotely and then we bring all the ideas to the table. Alex [Webster, Bass] had one song at that stage, so when the touring came to a halt, we just went full steam ahead with the album.
OD – Was there any talk of postponing the release, because of the current global Pandemic?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Thankfully, no. Luckily, we did it right. Because going into the studio in April and everything really hit in March. When it finally took hold [the pandemic] we were very concerned as to what was going to happen like: “is the studio gonna get shut down?” or “are we gonna be able to travel?“, we had all these concerns but thankfully we were able to go ahead and get the recording completed.
The only problem really was that Alex lives in Portland, Oregon and he had to do his bass tracks in his home studio. That was the only setback, but it wasn’t that big of a setback if you know what I mean. He’s got all his gear in his studio and he certainly knows what he’s doing, so we dodged a bullet there. It would have been nice to have him come down to the studio, but that just wasn’t possible.
But I’ve got to say we were really worried for a few weeks prior to us entering the studio that it was all going to have to be postponed.
OD – At what point during the albums recording process did you just know that the album was shaping up to be something truly special?
MAZURKIEWICZ – [Laughing] It’s hard to say. We knew that we had some really good tracks and I guess we all were just really focused on trying to draw out the very best songs we possibly could for this album.
I mean…it’s a hard-hitting album and possibly one of the most ferocious in our entire catalogue. We just wanted to do the best we could and when the tracks started coming together we could really hear the brutality and we knew we had created something very special.
When we had the album finished, we listen back and we just knew that it was a very intense album. We can’t wait for the fans to hear the whole album.
OD – Now that Erik Rutan [Morbid Angel, Ripping Corpse, Hate Eternal] is a full-time member of the band, did you find that there was a different dynamic brought to the overall Cannibal Corpse sound, and if so, what, as I know he wrote three full tracks including lyrics on the album?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Yeah, definitely. We’ve worked with Erik in the past and as you know, we did some tours with him towards the end of 2019, but having him as a fully-fledged member of the band has been fantastic.
Bringing him in like this gave us a kick in the ass and his overall nature of being totally gung-ho and positive has had an overall revitalised feel to the band.
He [Erik] wrote his songs very quickly and just hammered them out; which was great. He’s a lyricist of course and that took a little pressure off me [Laughing]. I’d been writing so many lyrics over the last few years and only have two tracks on this album.
OD – Did you feel that there was a little pressure on Erik not only with the role of ‘producer‘ but now actively involved with the writing and recording process?
MAZURKIEWICZ – I’m sure there was but he’s a pro. I guess he just compartmentalized the situation and concentrated on the task at hand, before moving onto the next stage.
Honestly, he took it all with stride. He did what needed to get done. If anything he was a little concerned that he was doing a good job and wanted to make this album something that we as a band could be very proud of. He worked so hard on this LP and he did a great job.
OD – I understand you came up with the title of the album on the basis that summing up “what the band is about in every facet, and taking violence to another level of extremity”. Did that title just come to you with no effort, or did you have a few other titles in mind?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Usually we brainstorm titles and it’s always either myself or Alex that come up with the album title. So, for this album, I was thinking and then it dawned on me: “We’ve never even used the word ‘violence’ in a song title” which was kind of weird, as you would have thought that would have come up over the last 30-odd years [Laughing].
Then I started to shuffle around a few ideas and ‘Violence Unimagined‘ had a great ring to it. So, I put it to the rest of the guys and they all loved it. Well, at least three of us liked it off the bat [laughing]. Remember, there’s five of us in the band and there’s always gonna be split hairs over some decisions, but they eventually came around.
To be honest, nobody else came up with any suggestions [laughing]. Some of the guys were like: “That’s pretty rad but let’s see what else you can come up with“, and I was like: “I’m done, I’ve done my part, you guys can figure out any other suggested titles.” [Laughing]
Personally, I really love this album and I think the title sums up everything about what Cannibal Corpse is. It’s also got that “old-school” Cannibal Corpse vibe…
OD – Looking back on the legacy of the band and to still be doing what Cannibal Corpse do best today, some 33-years later is quite an accomplishment regardless of genre. Do you find that the Death Metal genre [as a whole] has survived unscathed over time, or was there a period where you felt that it was in harm of evolving, or perhaps caving in on itself as some other genres do?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Who would have thought that this kind of music be around as long as it has been and also being as popular as it is today. Of course, there’s always going to be that natural morphing of sound that happens in any kind of genre of music.
Just think about what was considered to be “extreme” when we started and what is considered to be “extreme” by todays’ standards and… well, it’s a little different, so say the least. Despite the changes, I think the genre it’s still holding that element it had when it first started.
Things are always gonna change and the new kids are going to incorporate different styles as the genre progresses and that’s how any genre progresses. The main ingredient is keeping the extreme edge on the music and I think that has, to this day, stayed intact. It’s amazing to think that the genre is as strong now as it’s ever been and long may it continue.
OD – What are the chances of seeing ‘Centuries of Torment ‘2’ in the coming years or something to mark the bands’ 35th anniversary?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Actually, we haven’t thought about it. And in fact, you’re the first person to ask me that question. Ironically, it’s called ‘Centuries of Torment – The First 20 Years‘, so in another seven years, we’re gonna be looking at the next twenty years. There hasn’t been any talk about this at all, but now that I think about it, so much has happened and I guess we’ll have to discuss how we will cypher through the last 20-years of band history and try to compile it into some kind of structure. At this stage, we’ll have to just wait and see what comes of that.
OD – There are not many bands that literally define a genre of music as much as Cannibal Corpse. In saying that, do you feel that with each album, it’s almost an impossible feat to try to surpass the previous body of work, or do you just put your head down and push forward?
MAZURKIEWICZ – I believe that’s how we do what we do. We don’t try to overdo things and just concentrate on doing the very best that we can for whatever we’re working on. I think we’ve really progressed and grown and improved as better songwriters and musicians over the years.
Every album is a huge milestone for us and in my opinion, better than the last in some ways. For me, the key is great songwriting. Look at “Inhumane Harvest” for example, it’s got all the elements that you’d expect from a Cannibal Corpse track but it’s the way it’s put together. What a great song! We always strive to write a catchy track in the Death Metal sense, with plenty of groove and brutality.
Since day one, we’ve always been ourselves. We don’t try to emulate other bands or change our style to whatever the flavour of the month is. We are Cannibal Corpse and we play brutal Death Metal [Laughing]. We try to keep things simple in that sense, but keep the true ethos of who we are and allow for natural evolution to our overall sound. If you like our stuff, then come along for the ride and if you don’t then we’ll still be here doing what we do.
OD – In your opinion were there any bands from back in the late ‘80s early 90’s that you feel should have been a whole lot bigger than they were?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Hmmm… that’s a good question. There have been so many bands that we’ve toured with over the years but the one that comes to mind is Immolation. What an amazing band and also a great bunch of guys. We always used to ask ourselves: “Why are they not bigger than they are?” They’ve been around for as long as we have. It’s just weird how things work out in this business.
OD – Do you keep an ear out for up-and-coming new bands, or are you the type of person to switch off to totally different music outside of Cannibal Corpse ?
MAZURKIEWICZ – I’d be lying if I told you that I listen to Death Metal all day, every day [Laughing]. I just don’t have the time or the energy to listen to all the new stuff that’s out there. Back in the day, we used to get loads of demos and we’d listen to all of them and stay up to date with what was happening in the scene but it’s just kind of saturated with so many bands’ now. It’s kind of impossible to keep track of what’s happening.
Right now, I’ve no idea of what’s going on out there. I know what we do and I’m all about that but when it comes to enjoying music, I tend to listen to the old Rock n’ Roll stuff that was around when I was growing up. [Laughing] I guess I’m getting old.
OD – Of the 11-tracks on the album, which was the most troublesome for you personally?
MAZURKIEWICZ – Oh.. I’d have to say ‘Slowly Sawn‘ and ‘Cerements of the Flayed’. Those two tracks were a huge struggle for me. It nearly killed me [Laughing]. It took a long time to nail those down.
Overall the whole album is very physically demanding. If you listen to, ‘Condemnation Contagion’, that’s another example of the levels of intensity with regards to the drumming on this album.
OD – Given the chance to assemble the ultimate Death Metal package tour, who would be joining Cannibal Corpse?
MAZURKIEWICZ – That’s tough… Well in a perfect world, looking back on the old-school bands that we grew up with, it would be great to have Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Suffocation and Immolation. But that will never happen, unfortunately, but can you imagine who awesome that would be for the Death Metal fans?
OD – The most brutal Cannibal Corpse song is…?
MAZURKIEWICZ – WOW! I’d have to say ‘Hammesmashed Face‘. It just gets me every time. We have so many tracks to choose from but every time it comes up on the setlist, you can feel the crowd lose their minds and they expect it from us. I know it’s cliché to pick that track but it just gets me every time.
‘Violence Unimagined‘ is out April 16th via Metal Blade Records. Pre-order your copy here.
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