Alex Webster is a name synonymous with the institution of death metal. Having almost written the original thesis on the genre of horror/gore extreme music, his band Cannibal Corpse are continually pushing themselves as artists whilst holding fast to the purity of their original mission statement focussing on what they, as almost pioneers of the realm, wanted from their music.
Almost every band that arose at the same time as Corpse were a plethora of amazing extreme bands that did not sound like they were moulded on a production line. The likes of Death, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Obituary, Bolt Thrower and so many more, strove to forge something extreme but held meaning and intent, with all fueled by a desire to express their generation in ways the world had not yet experienced or even more, ready for whilst single-handedly forging a singular path that held all of those bands in high regard amongst their peers, labels and fans alike. The world back then in those early nineties formative years was a truly special place in the extreme metal world and I’m so honoured to have been there.
But the beauty of those bands still around today are not trying to outdo one another because there is simply no need to. They’ve made their mark in the music world and are still making it today!
Cannibal Corpse are about to release album number fifteen – Violence Unimagined – a magnificent milestone by anyone’s summation. Bass player and founding member Alex sat down with us here at the HEAVY office to discuss the state of the Corpse world, writing and recording their new album through covid and touring or lack thereof.
“There has been a lot going on for all of us. For us, it (covid) really didn’t change things as much as it did for other bands. I know of bands that had a full year touring scheduled in 2020 that they cancelled. For us we planned on recording and wait a few months then we would tour. So we were thinking maybe we’ll tour in November if we bring out the album in October but once the pandemic happened that all got pushed…so the impact on us was a little bit less than on other bands.”
For those fans that don’t know, Alex has moved from the death metal mecca of Florida to the wilds of Oregon. That being the case he does reflect on the difficulty of the distance between himself and the rest of the band for things like recording a new album; “I had gone down to Florida to work on the new material with the band in early March, we had the band photos done then I flew home. The plan was I was going to fly back in April for the recording.” Here Webster pauses, reflecting on the chaos engulfing the world and disrupting the artistic process he was about to embark upon, continuing… “In America by about the middle of March right when I was about to leave, this was (the pandemic) becoming a huge story. It became clear that going back might not be possible and wouldn’t be a good idea regardless.” A positive amongst that slight bump in the Cannibal Corpse highway Alex continues, “So we decided to have me record here in Oregon in my home studio. I’m pretty good with home recordings which wound up being not a problem and that was probably the difference for us really that I wasn’t there AND I like to be there when we record because I usually write a good handful of the songs.”
Metal V comes in here knowing the band well having been a fan of Corpse since their inception, he asks Alex if not being there during the recording process of the album must have been hard on him creatively. “It was (hard) but thankfully I trust these guys and we trust each other musically. I knew that they weren’t gonna do something with one of my songs and I hear it then I would be “OH NO, what’d you do?” We all have a very similar idea of what we want Cannibal Corpse’s music to be, we’re really on the same page. But I did miss not being there plus they wanted me there because it’s how we work better when everyone’s got the chance to be in the same room bouncing ideas off of each other. But in the end, everything turned out awesome and it sounds killer regardless!”
Obviously, Covid is a thing that writhes and embeds its diseased cells into everyone’s 24/7 lived daily lives, so how are people who are, for the purpose of this conversation, death metal artists and musicians living and embracing their daily creative lives? Webster guides us through it, “Well we’re writing new material because that’s what Cannibal Corpse do when we’re not touring, because why not?” He laughs before ending “we don’t want to sit at home twiddling our thumbs waiting to see what happens. We all want to keep busy by trying to keep working one way or another!”
Now onto the killer new Corpse album Violence Unimagined. If you are a fan familiar with their previous releases you are well aware that maximum carnage at full throttle gore inspired blasting BPM all the time at all costs regardless of victim count is produced. And the same is true for Violence Unimagined, but this time the band have gone for a more groove orientated feel letting the insane parts frame the songs. Alex agrees and adds, “that is pretty much just what we wrote, but there was a conscious effort to make each song stand out from the other. On this album the main music writers were Rob (Barrett – Guitars) writing four of the songs, Eric (Rutan – Guitars) writing three and me (Webster – Bass) writing four, plus Paul (Mazurkiewicz – Drums) also wrote lyrics on a couple of songs. For the music, each of us wants to make sure that the songs we contribute on have their own character and to me part of making a song sound different from the others is to have different tempos and different kinds of rhythmic feels. Those things create a lot of ups and downs on an album and I think on this album that it has more of that (feeling) than some of our other albums; so real variety and that’s the key word.
By listening to the full Cannibal Corpse special in its entirety you’ll hear new tracks from their upcoming (almost released album) Violence Unimagined. Plus Alex talks and reflects on having had a number of members come and go, maintaining the overall initial purpose and intent of Cannibal Corpse and the member’s fantastic ability to sound distinctly Corpse from their inception in the early nineties to now thirty years later. Plus the positives of moving to a new state and enduring covid with his family, the creative process behind their recent disturbing clip “Inhumane Harvest” one of the few videos not featuring the band – You’re gonna love it!