Addicted to Brutality
by Luis Santos, Flecha Negra Metalzine (Portugal)
Keeping up an impressive work schedule, the ever-shocking Cannibal Corpse deliver yet another brilliant piece of death metal destined to crush all wannabes into oblivion. Following hard on the basis laid on last year's Gallery of Suicide, Bloodthirst is yet one more decisive step in the violent path the band has always tread. Guitarist Pat OíBrien, from the Metal Blade HQ in Germany, tells us all about blood, gore and past scars.
"Yesterday I was really tired man Ďcause we had to fly all night while we were getting here. Then we got a few hours sleep and started doing interviews all day. But Iím okay now that I had a good night's sleep." What about that?! Death metal musicians need as much rest as any of us. There goes the creatures of the night myth!!!
With a firm reputation built through one of the new the power metal legends, Nevermore, it came as quite a shock to see Pat OíBrien moving into the ranks of Cannibal Corpse after the tumultous departure of his previous band. After all, more than an overwhelming surprise, this new chapter is more of a natural step than anything else.
"Before I joined Nevermore I was in a band [Monstrosity] with Steve Tucker, the singer of Morbid Angel, and that was a death metal band, basically," states Pat. "I was based in Cincinatti and, like most bands, we broke up and followed different ways. I had this tape of the band and sent that tape out Ďcause I was trying to move out of the city. I wanted to get away from all those dickheadsÖ It wasnít Steve Tucker, it was the other guys in the band. I sent this tape out and Nevermore hired me, not as a full time guitar player because they knew I wasnít into that kind of music anyway. I played with them for a few years, but there were some problems between me andÖ maybe Warrel [Dane Ė vocalist of Nevermore] and it just didnít work out. To make a long story short, I just wound up with Cannibal Corpse. But I didnít quit Nevermore to join Cannibal Corpse. In fact, after I left Nevermore I didnít do anything for about a year, basically. I actually lucked out when I joined Cannibal Corpse."
Apparently, it works both ways. I do believe Cannibal Corpse lucked out to join efforts with such a skilled musician. As for the axeman, itís just a case of a long-time dream coming true.
"Yeah, I always liked the death metal scene anyway. Nevermore is a great band, but itís just not my style." Upon confronting these words with the Nevermore masterpieces, itís hard to believe there was such a musical gap between Pat and the remaining members. Besides, there were some rumours (every now and then) concerning the conflicts within Nevermore. I was wondering if thereís still a bond between them.
"Everytime Jeff gets drunk or whatever, heíll call me: 'Hello, man! How are you doing, man? Whatís up, man?' I tried to talk with Warrel one time over the phone, but then we got disconnected somehow. I thought I was going to hang out with them at the Wacken festival after their show, but while they were onstage we had to leave Ďcause we had to go catch a plane. I planned on seeing them on their American tour with Mercyful Fate. But I didnít talk with them for a while after I left the band. Itís never good to leave a band, it was a pretty shitty thing soÖ" It always leave some scars... "Yeah, always! And it never seems to go away."
With one album and the following tour to get that band feeling again, OíBrien is now more than ever an important piece of the bloody Cannibal Corpse puzzle. "Yeah, Iím writing songs and all." By the way, if there is such thing as the Cannibal Corpse spirit, how can we describe it? "Just trying to make the most brutal music you can. I mean, Nevermore is a more multi-dimensional band and Cannibal Corpse is pretty much one dimension. Itís pretty much straight brutal death metal."
Itís hard to find a better definition for this kind of sound, you gotta agree on that one! How far goes Patís contribution in that maelstrom? Have he brought anything new into the band? "Iíd like to think so! I donít know, I think thatís up to the listeners to decide." Well, you heard the man! Listen to the album and make up your own mind about it! With the dangerous amount of energy flowing in this combo, it comes as no surprise to see Patís abilities develop and reach unknown heights. "I think Iím writing better songs for death metal right now. When I parted ways with Nevermore I didnít think Iíd never come back to Europe to play. I thought I had my chance and blew it! When I hooked up with these guys it made me appreciate the whole situation a lot more. This music has got some challenging parts, definitely."
Cannibal Corpse have developed their formula throughout the years and the new album is no exception to the crimson rule. There are no major changes compared to last yearís Gallery of Suicide, only an increment in intensity. "I think both albums are really killer albums, but I think Bloodthirst is more brutal. I think itís definitely brutal, it fits into my definition of brutal. We used a different producer and a different studio. It was in the same tudio I have recorded with Nevermore, as a matter of fact." Talking about strange coincidences, man! "Yeah, thatís kind of weird. You see things that you think youíll never see again, you meet people you think youíll never run into again like with Nevermore. And they come back! Itís very, very strange."
Cannibal Corpse have been at the forefront of the death metal scene before everybody start playing this style. Then, all of a sudden, death metal almost disappeared from the face of the earth. Apparently, DM is slowly coming back to the surface. "There are a lot of good death metal bands nowadays like AngelCorpse, Hate Eternal, DefleshedÖ" "Would you consider Arch Enemy death metal?" I ask. "They are one of my favourites, they have a great guitar player. I love the heavy brutal music. I think the scene will always be small, but itís what I like."
Bloodthirst is violent, brutal, and, above all, rotten (in the best sense of the word). Just check out Hacksaw Decapitation and its vicious riffing, complemented with a short guitar solo that is merely the proverbial icing on the filthy cake. Iíd like to hear more of that in the futureÖ "Maybe that will happen more in the next album. I wrote three songs on this album and there are lots of solos that I threw out because I thought the songs didnít need them. I just thought the riffs would look heavier without solos. Thereís nothing worse that taking a good riff and then put some solo over it because the guitar player has got an ego problem. I hate it when that happens!" O'Brien exclaims. "Like in 'Dead Human Collection'...I had put a solo in the song, but I had to take it out because itís kind of heavier without the damn solo. I mean, if the solo adds, like the first song, 'Pounded Into Dust', I put a solo on that one, I pulled it out really quick and it fits, it worked on that song. But like 'Dead Human Collection' and 'Ecstasy In Decay', where there are no solos, we just thought the song sounded better without them. I can play solos!" Hey, Pat, nobody dares saying you canít. "I can play solos, but I donít feel like I need to play solos every time. There are a lot of guitar players that have some problems with their ego, every song has to have a solo, when thereís no singing, it must have a solo. Thatís not how I play."
Besides, if you wanted to do solos, most likely you would be in another band. "Yeah, I like playing solos but, more than everything, I like heavy riffs, I like brutal heavy riffs."
The Cannibal Corpse nostalgics might find it hard to swallow that the band has decided to put aside all those ballads that helped to build up this metal monster. What? You donít know what Iím talking about? Those sweet love songs like "I Cum Blood" and "Entrail Ripped From a Virginís Cunt."
"I donít know what that songs have to deal with," the guitar player confesses. "I just think maybe Chris Barnes was going through a period in his life when he wasnít getting laid because he was singing all these songs against women, killing women. I donít really get involved in the lyric writing. I pick the titles for my songs, but I donít write the lyrics." Is that situation doomed to remain for all eternity? "I wouldnít have anything to say as far as lyrics go. Paul [Mazurkiewicz Ė drummer] is doing a pretty good job in writing lyrics for my songs so I prefer to concentrate on my guitar."
And this team really works! One of the trademarks of Cannibal Corpse has been provided by the exquisite artwork that adorns every release. The credits go straight to a name that makes every PTA tremble with fear and disgust. Vincent Locke, the 6th member of the band. "This guy has been with us since day one. He has done all the covers for Cannibal Corpse." Ever wondered how they work together? Pretty simple, as a matter of fact. "We just try to give him a basic idea. In this case, we wanted some mixed up and mutated fucked up creature, a fictional thing and thatís what he came up with. And thereís another one that most of you probably didnít see which is the uncensored cover. Itís crazy, his work is something that comes with the band, a part of the package." And we sure love the whole package, donít we?
As if all of that wasnít enough, Vincent Locke has actually given shape to one of the songs. "Sickening Metamorphosis" works almost as a tribute to the artwork. "That just kind of happened, it wasnít planned. That song was written before we even see the artwork." Nonetheless, the connection is undeniable. "Thatís pretty much the only song that can be connected to the artwork of the album. Most of the songs explain themselves through the title, like 'Hacksaw Decapitation', itís easy to figure out what itís all about, but 'Sickening Metamorphosis' is more twisted."
And it seems that package we were talking about has always been forcing its way through censorship "It was basically here in Germany and that was really about it. Thereís not really a big problem, a lot of stores will have the censored cover, but itís not really a big problem. Not yet, anyway." Thatís good to know. Letís just hope that Mr. Al Gore and the infamous Tipper Gore donít come up with twisted ideas to spread the web of censorship. "Itís a scary thing, but what can you do? Weíll see what happens." Worry not, fellow metalheads, itís just a personal thing! After all, no matter what they try to do, their name will always be wrapped up in gore!
Instead of resting upon its laurels, this is a band that manages to release a new album every year. Something that, sadly, is not very common in these parts, is it? "This band works hard, man! When we go on tour, we might take a day or two off, but then weíre practicing again. We practice like five days a week. I mean, we take off holidays, but when weíre back home weíre at the rehearsal place, weíre jamming. We donít fuck around, you know! Thatís the way I like to work. If you push yourself, you can record an album every year! If we tour six months in a year, we got six more months to write an album. Why shouldnít we write an album? We practice everyday, weíre working hard. Basically, we make a living doing Cannibal Corpse. Weíre not rich, but we donít have to get up to go to a day job, so thereís no reason at all why we canít release an album every year."
Someone should definitely pay attention to these words and start working properly! "Every band works differently," Pat continues. "Thatís one thing. I mean, Iím not talking bad about Nevermore, but they work a lot different than the way I like to; their practice schedule and things like that. I like the way Cannibal Corpse works, weíre always practicing. Some bands, they wonít practice for a couple of months. Like Nevermore, they work great under pressure. I mean, those guys can write an album in two weeks and make it brilliant! I can't do that. I need more time."
The fans in Europe have had the wonderful chance to watch the band in the Wacken Open Air festival. A show that was surrounded by a couple of special circumstances as Pat is glad to recall. "We pulled it off! We were in the studio recording Bloodthirst for five weeks, and then we get out for about a week to come here in Germany to play the festival. We havenít rehearsed any of these old songs in five or six months Ďcause when we write an album we start working on the album and thatís what weíre working for. We donít like to play old songs. We might do one of them just to warm up, but thatís it; then we start working on the new material. We didnít really want to do it, but it was a good opportunity so we just did it." It was indeed a great opportunity. "Yeah, but it just came up at the worst time for us. We were not on tour mode, we were not ready. It could have been better if we had been in the middle of a tour. People stayed out there in the rain, they seemed to be into it. I thought it came up okay and we played a song from the new album, 'Unleashed The Bloodthirsty'. I got the feeling that they liked it, but Iím always paying attention in my playing."
Apart from the Cannibal Corpse performance, thereís always time to check out the whole festival atmosphere. "Iíve seen a few of the bands. Iíve seen a little bit of Nevermore, they were good." Any more interesting bands that caught your attention? "Iíve seen a little bit of Hammerfall, Metal Church, Mercyful Fate, God Dethroned...It was basically a whole travel day to get there so we got here a day before we played. It was maybe two or three in the afternoon. I was tired and I wanted to sleep, but I just hung out in the festival and watched a couple of shows. It was rough the next day."
The tour mode problem is ready to be completely solved as the band is just about to get on the road in Europe. "Weíre gonna go on tour with Defleshed, a great band, and another band called Aeternus." Later, America will once again be crushed by the power of this quintet. A tour no one should miss, especially if you take in consideration this small detail: "Weíre planning on recording a live album in the next American tour." Be there!
In spite the somewhat short experience of Pat OíBrien regarding the Cannibal Corpseís bizarre tours, it seems the guitarist is already prepared for the worst. Is there anything particularly strange espisode that youíd like to tell us about? "The whole thing is crazy and I donít even know where to begin. Itís crazy to normal people, but itís normal to me." Letís refresh his memory shall we? How about this? A couple of years ago someone threw a pigís heart on stage during a memorable show in Portugal. "Thatís strange, man! Someone threw a dildo in Canada, we had a damn dildo on stage." And thatís what I call FUCKING METAL!!!