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I am not a Cannibal Corpse fan and never really have been. They make great music and earned every bit of popularity they achieved, but there's something about them that I always felt they lacked; charisma and freshness. Unlike most people, they were not the first death metal band I ever listened to (though they were the first I'd heard of, unsurprisingly), so I didn't exactly go in with any unusual expectations. At first listen, I thought they were pretty boring. Nothing really stood out to me at all, and I didn't think I'd ever come back to them. However, when I started getting into Six Feet Under, I learned that their vocalist Chris Barnes, one of the most prolific people in the genre, was a part of Cannibal Corpse when they first started, and was responsible for performing and writing their most famous material. So, I decided to give their early catalog a true shot.
I found it to be just a tad generic at first, but then I began to notice Barnes' songwriting style in the music (the first CC I heard was with Corpsegrinder) and began to let it stand on its own merits. It was almost as if I didn't want to like it solely because of how big and stereotypical the band was, but once I entitled myself to my own genuine opinion, things began to change. Chris Barnes overtime became one of my favorite death metal musicians, and I found myself loving everything he did, including his landmark debut "Eaten Back to Life", which was a great beginning for Cannibal Corpse.
One thing about the album that is extremely noticeable is the sound compared to CC"s later material. It features a thrash metal-influenced sound similar to the very earliest bands in death metal, a far cry from the ultra-brutal style of their most well-known albums. It's still death metal, mind you, just not quite as heavy as the vast majority of their stuff. Chris uses a higher growl (that is somehow still incomprehensible) not unlike some of thrash's most aggressive bands, in contrast to his varying gutturals that he's used from the second album all the way up until today. In fact, hearing it I sometimes forget that it even is Chris, or at least, that's how it used to be.
Even as the band's first ever album, it pulls absolutely no punches. The riffs are catchy, brutal, fast, pummeling, and extremely memorable all at the same time, a staple of everything that Barnes-era CC stands for. It was clear that they had a lot of practice prior to recording the album, as the songwriting is extremely tight and has enough varying passages to keep the listener interested throughout the whole record. The production is fantastic for its time, featuring a relatively clear sound compared to some other bands, with emphasis on the pounding drum patterns and signature element of speed that CC continues to be famous for.
Right from the get-go, CC throws gore at you like they always have, like the guts of a decaying carcass spraying a bystander as a car runs right over it; right in your fucking face until you can't take anymore. The zombie eating himself on the cover is exactly what the band is named for; a Cannibal Corpse, a zombie who eats other zombies. It's gory, disturbing, violent, and stomach-churning; in fact, the cover art was something that turned me away from death metal as a kid. As if the point hadn't been driven home yet, those with weak constitutions should not expose themselves to CC unless they want projectile vomiting. "Eaten Back to Life" doesn't try to lie about what it is, as the song titles like "Shredded Humans" and "Bloody Chunks" more than compliment the cover art's nature. And it only gets more violent after this record.
Cannibal Corpse was formed with one goal in mind at first; to be the most brutal and gory band in the death metal scene. While they've undoubtedly been surpassed in the future, or at least equaled, at the time they caused an uprising of controversy for the violence and horror they shoved down music consumers' throats, but it was nothing personal; it was just their job, and continues to be to this day. It's death metal, and being the most successful of its kind, CC seemed to know that the mainstream can only take so much after worming their way up there. While the band would eventually improve after the album, "Eaten Back to Life" is the beginning of a legacy. The beginning of Chris Barnes. The beginning of a slew of classics. A fantastic album.
25 years ago, metal was enjoying a last hurrah of sorts before being tossed to the wayside by the mainstream. The hair metal groups were “Livin' on a Prayer” so to speak while the same could be said about the thrash groups. Unless your name was Metallica, Guns N' Roses, or Mötley Crüe, if you played metal in the year 1990, your arena days of a few years earlier were most likely gone. And while Mötley was cranking out songs about “Girls, Girls, Girls” on the west coast, a young band by the name of Cannibal Corpse was cranking out songs about gore, gore, gore!!!
Metal is no stranger to explicit album art whether it be gore (Carcass), nudity (Scorpions), or both (Pungent Stench), however it was comic artist Vincent Locke's fictional drawing of a zombie eating itself (hence the album title) that riled everyone up. Plus we really needed an explicit label to let parents know that this music wasn't appropriate for their young childrens' impressionable ears. Go figure.
From a musical standpoint, Eaten Back to Life is Cannibal Corpse's best record. We hear influences of thrash all throughout this release. Remember, death metal at this point was merely a strain of thrash metal. The style of drumming, fast and technical, as well as brief guitar solos, fist pumping riffs, and speeding thin bass tone would make us think that Cannibal Corpse is, at the core, a Slayer clone and a damn good one at that. However, it's Chris Barnes' primal guttural vocals that tell us otherwise. While Canniibal Corpse got more brutal as the years went by, Eaten Back to Life could be argued as the most brutal metal record of that time (alongside Deicide's self titled) because of Barnes' vocals. Guttural vocals had been around in some form since the 80s (Morbid Angel, Obituary, Sepultura, etc.), but the sheer rawness of Barnes' growling plus the thrash metal speed of the songs makes this record a classic. It's too bad Barnes didn't stick to this style for his entire career because by the time Tomb of the Mutilated was released, his vocals became pure overkill and the reason why myself and many others can only take Cannibal Corpse in doses.
While Cannibal Corpse's most commercially successful and praised releases wouldn't be until after Eaten Back to Life, I would recommend this record to anyone interested in getting into death metal or metal as a whole. It's heavy enough to leave an impression yet accessible enough for someone to not turn it off after the first 10 seconds. Besides, whose curiosity wouldn't be peeked when hearing a band by the name of Cannibal Corpse?
Cannibal Corpse’s debut features their easily recognizable brand of relentless, aggressive and rabid horror death metal: rhythm over melody; and the abrupt instead of harmony. Being this their first album, not even the DM genre was totally developed yet. Speed is present but it doesn’t surpass a thrash assault by Sadus or Dark Angel for example, there aren’t blast beats on any song either. Remnants of thrash are still visible.
These are the first sketches of death metal though, and they are a whole step above in terms of brutality and aggressiveness than its thrashy roots. They also got Chris fucking Barnes, the best band vocalist. His deep and gut vomiting growls are priceless. I wouldn’t say this album is his better performance but you can hear what he is up to. Production is another aspect that helps to give the blunt force trauma effect. The dismal, echoing and crude sound of the 80’s recordings add roughness to the already fierce and frantic CC’s riffing and rhythmic section. Bass guitar shares almost the same limelight as guitars. Webster’s finger picking gives a rounded and deep tone that can be well heard on this record. There aren’t many bass fills or solos in this offer but it was respected on the mixing process, another characteristic of the band’s general sound. Guitar’s distortion is uncooked, very amp like. Several guitar tracks were laid together when they mastered the album I guess, because they sound solid and consistent despite their raw and electric distortion. The band’s performance is utterly accurate and precise, except from fast passages where Mazurkewicz can’t keep up with the speed on the ride and hi hat cymbals, which sound sloppy. The double bass drums and the snare go with a perfect timing, it’s just a minor flaw that requires a lot of attention to be noticed and doesn’t soil the rest of the music really.
The band’s composer’s writing skills have grown over time, but they were sharp since day one. Riffs aren’t as technical as they would be in the future, but they are fast and well-thought. Heaviness is an integral component of CC’s music; because it’s not just a violent wall of noise, riffs are intended to be heavy and terror inducing. They are jumpy but never happy or comfortable; giving a frightening psychotic fashion to their sound. Another remarkable aspect of the band’s composition skills is that they managed to write all this songs with some sort of identity, not an easy task. They have certainly failed in other albums giving such a memorable and vivid flavor to music, but this is not the case. “Eaten Back to Life” is a strong album, a classic important for what it means as the birth of a legend but also for what it is musically and the barriers pushed towards a more defying, irreverent and extreme form of metal.
It’s very unprofessional for anyone reporting on or reviewing a collection of music to fully disclose his/her biases right from the onset, but honesty is always the preferred route to trying to fake objectivity when dealing with the highly visible Cannibal Corpse. Although more a band associated with the changeover from extreme thrashing with shouted vocals and occult themes held over from the blackened swamps of the early 80s to the real life horrors of blood and gore, “Eaten Back To Life” is an album situated comfortably before said transition, and thus my bias is revealed. When it comes to death metal and myself, the more archaic the sound, despite what the actual lyrical content is, the more pleased I am with the experience.
While lyrically this is as sick and perverted of an exercise in shock mongering and vivid descriptions of unspeakable carnage as the rest of the band’s extensive catalog, the sonic landscapes are more akin to a somewhat fantastical hybrid of zombie horror and haunting rituals. The principle forces at work in inspiring this malevolent collection of sickening tales are among the more extreme fringes of thrash metal, namely Slayer, Sepultura, Sodom and Kreator. The guitar tone reeks of the dark hearted punch of “Beneath The Remains”, but the actual musical contents offers the atonal melodic aesthetics of “Reign In Blood” and the rhythmically precise yet morbidly foggy tremolo riffing interchanges of a number of Teutonic releases.
Though this is about as far up my alley as they tend to come with old school filthy death metal, it isn’t quite a perfect collage of thrashing 80s holdovers. Chris Barnes’ vocal attack, while inhuman and forbidding in its guttural insanity, is very flat and one-dimensional. Thankfully it only plays a secondary role in what is primarily a riff driven album, but the quality of this takes a notable up tick vocally on “Mangled” and “A Skull Full Of Maggots” when Glen Benton chimes in. In a similar fashion, much in the same fashion as this album’s esteemed guest vocalist’s own band, the lead guitar work is plagued by an all but 100% plagiarizing of the Slayer formula of frenzied shredding and whammy bar howls. For a better example of how this style can be complemented with some structured elements, see Death’s take on it in the 3 albums that were released before this.
But make no mistake, in terms of straight up death metal, this album delivers a nice bit of variety that would disappear from the band’s format until after Barnes left the fold. In much the same way as the similar sounding though more occult inspired Deicide, there is a good mixture of slower chugging breakdowns and distinctive mid-tempo sections to be found amongst the fits of blazing speed, freeing this from being trapped inside the “Reign In Blood” box. Particularly the longer efforts in “Mangled”, “Buried In The Backyard”, and the epic riff fest opener “Shredded Humans” show a band willing to back things up a bit and allow that guitar to speak before the drums start blasting up a storm of cadavers. But even among the shorter ones that come and go about as quickly as the filler songs on 3rd Slayer album tended to, there’s a few really bright spots in the nightmarish “Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains” and the sickeningly chaotic “Rotting Head”.
But perhaps the best element at play here is that though this is now more than 2 decades old, it still manages to offer something refreshing, particularly in light of all the current bands that tend to be more grindcore inspired. This hearkens back to a time where extreme didn’t necessarily mean that you sat on a blast beat for a full 30 minute album and threw out a few chugging riffs as token contrast points to what is otherwise an endless sea of noise. In terms of historical significance, it is more of a throwback to the 80s than a forward looking 90s release, so it tends to be passed up for older works such as “Leprosy” and “Slowly We Rot”. But for anyone who is a sucker for the older works of the Florida scene like myself, this is the one out of Cannibal Corpse’s extended repertoire to seek out.
It's difficult to be objective about an album when one's own nostalgic feelings for it clash with the quality of the actual product, and the Cannibal Corpse debut Eaten Back to Life provides me with quite the personal paradox. On the one hand, I spent months with a crazy friend/band mate of mine cruising around with this in the car, for it was quite brutal in its day and we both thought it was hilarious, in particular the lyrics. On the other, it certainly hasn't aged very well, and though it is not lacking in extremity, I wonder if many of these tunes were so great to begin with. I should warn the reader in advance that I am a card carrying member of the club that favors modern Cannibal Corpse (fronted by George Corpsegrinder) over the Chris Barnes years. Through the years, they have developed a level of complexity and evil riffing that very much appeals to what I seek in the death metal genre. However, this is not to say I have any particular disdain for the first four albums...I just don't like them as much as a Gallery of Suicide or Bloodthirst.
Eaten Back to Life features the classic lineup of Jack Owen and Bob Rusay on guitars, Chris Barnes on vocals, Alex Webster on bass, and Paul Mazurkiewics on the drums, and it has a hybrid thrashing/death metal tone which sounds quite like a midway point between Floridians Xecutioner/Obituary and the late 80s Sepultura material, with a very punchy distortion that adds a hostile, emotionless weight to the rather monotone grunts of Barnes. This is nearly as brutal as bands could sound back in 1990, without going over into the realm of chaos or noise. As always, Cannibal Corpse were very careful songwriters who balanced their faster paced bludgeoning with a sense for the groove breakdown that would influence countless thousands of bands to follow in their serial killer footprints. There are 2-3 tracks on this debut which still cause my neck to jerk out of control and my thoughts turn to dark places that a rational mind should not travel...but I've really got to be in the mood for the rest, because I find most rather average, and without reading the lyrics along to the music I might think even less of them.
To start with, "Shredded Humans" is one of the most memorable pieces on the album, for its violent, chugging intro riffs that relapse into a wild flurry of icepick riffing and then a pair of subsequent, killer breakdowns that begin at 1:20. The lyrics to this deal with a homicidal maniac to smashes his car into some poor family's, killing most of them and then cannibalizing the one child who survives the impact. The end of the track has a sporadic, evil spike of leads in the vein of Slayer, which works nicely into the testosterone freakout that is "Edible Autopsy", itself a mix of death thrust and groove that doesn't develop into much beyond a Sepultura-like deep thrashing breakdown. "Put Them to Death" is short and spastic, and though it may force the head to bang out it leaves nothing memorable, not even when Chris Barnes exclaims 'FUCK YOU' in the bridge. "Mangled" is brutal as fuck, yet once again there is no immortal hook to balance the bludgeoning with a memorable reason to revisit. "Scattered Remains, Splattered Remains" has a nice, slow workup to the point at which it once again transforms into a demolition team worth of jackhammer, but plain riffing. The bridge rhythm after 1:00 tries to build a frantic and paranoid atmosphere to some success, but it honestly gets tired after about 4 repetitions.
'Hack, slice, chop, carve, rip and tear
Carving up your eyeballs, watch them sit and stare
Tear, rip, slice, carve, chop, hack
Toss them into a sack'
That's a lot of colorful verbs in there! "Born in a Casket" lurches about like a zombified neanderthal, spiked club in hand and ready to bash in some unfortunate's skull and then feast on the brain matter within. It's one of my favorite tracks on the album, because it makes for the perfect soundtrack to playing the hungry undead with your friends while drunk. Do the zombie! "Rotting Head" and "The Undead Will Feast" are both fast, winding numbers that blow by in under 3 minutes each; again, nothing is so memorable that I'd want to listen to it over many of their more recent tunes. "Bloody Chunks" is briefer still, and rather dry despite its ferocious pace and busy skull crushing rhythm, and "A Skull Full of Maggots" follows suit, though I find this one ever so slightly more memorable than the lesser half of this album. "Buried in the Backyard" ends the album with about the same length as "Shredded Humans" opened it, and it too features some of the strongest riffs on the album, like the surgical thrashing of the pre-verse rhythms.
There is an almost sacred stature built up around this album, and understandably so, as it was the debut of the most successful death metal in history, who would go on to release an entire stable of decently selling efforts, and build a reliable reputation as a headlining band. But when we look past the hype and the early excitement of America finding its 'voice' for offensive, ridiculous gore metal, Eaten Back to Life is not all that special. It sounds like a drought, rather than the wet sloshing carnage which one would expect alongside the lyrical matter. It's fun to listen to a few times, and the lyrics are entertaining enough. If you've never heard it, but you enjoy the tones and style of Sepultura's Beneath the Remains, Obituary's Slowly We Rot, Death's Scream Bloody Gore or Leprosy, then it might be something to check out.
Eaten Back to Life is a criminally underrated album. It is Cannibal Corpse at their thrashiest, thrashy but definitely in the death metal field, similar to Morbid Angel’s also underrated Abominations of Desolation. As much as I love death metal and am bored to tears by most thrash, this sort of death metal that’s thrashy but not to the hybrid extent of “death-thrash” is always welcomed with open arms.
Each song has a lot going on, THIS is the way variety in song structure should be done, not the way people today think it needs to be spastic and boastfully technical. That’s overkill. Eaten Back to Life doesn’t skip a beat but it never reaches the point where it gets so complicated it’s actually a feat of endurance to listen to. (read: Origin) Not that it’s simple groovy shit, it’s a smooth but intense album without a dull moment, without sounding forced, more brutal than most of the technical or brutal dm albums coming out almost two decades after its release.
The bass is a major highlight here because you can hear it, wow. Not only that actually, but it sticks out too, especially at the beginning of songs or during pauses between shifts in song direction. The prominence of bass is appreciated, even if the bassist isn’t doing much I can’t tell (can anyone really except a bassist?), I’m just happy to hear the bass. The production or tone basically is pretty much perfect here, obviously not low-fi garage rehearsal quality but it’s got a grittiness to it which a lot of death metal, including the more recent Cannibal Corpse albums in my opinion, seems to lack. It doesn’t sound too “studio.”
The riffs are also cool, like the overall songs they’re not too complicated but brutal without sounding like the band is trying to be. Fast and brutal is what it’s all about and it comes natural On Eaten Back to Life. The vocals are kind of thrashy like the music. This is before Barnes established his “slimy” sound and the lyrics are half decipherable. Although he’s good later too, it’s nice to hear him sound half human. The drumming here is also some of CC’s best, holding up that machine-gun feel nicely without blasting into stagnation, also with a few moments in the spotlight like the bass (although a lot less). The few seconds of Glen Benton’s contribution here is also awesome, just one of those minor niches in an album that make it kinda special. It took me a few years to learn that those Benton-like vocals were bellows of the beast himself, heh. (same with Cancer’s “Hung..”, maybe I’m slow)
Eaten Back to Life is an essential death metal album. It’s not as extreme as CC’s next few albums which a lot of fans seem to focus on while neglecting the genius of this one. Okay maybe not genius.. but it’s damn good. It’s a hearty slab of early death metal but no matter what new levels of “brutality” come out this never gets old or relatively weak, ever. Give me Origin and give me the first Cannibal Corpse album, and I’ll take this over the other any day, thanks.
ps I didn’t mean to pick on Origin. I kinda like them, actually.
My standards for what constitutes death metal proper are probably much greater than most peoples', and I'm one of those annoying folks who considers 'Scream Bloody Gore' and 'Seven Churches' to be not much more than glorified thrash albums. This is another formative album in the death metal genre that I still wouldn't describe as wholly death metal; probably about 75% at the most and the rest is a relatively extreme breed of thrash. Cannibal Corpse effectively began as a thrash band, and the seams of that style are still showing on essentially every track on this disc; with shoutier vocals, less oppressively atonal riffing, and a spot more groove and this would essentially be a pseudo-death metal 'Scream Bloody Gore' style album, and consequently, not nearly as interesting, because most of the worth of this release comes from the fact that it's rather essential in the development of death metal's overall aesthetic and not that the music is particularly inspired. 'Eaten Back To Life' certainly has its moments of brilliance, but they're fewer and further between than most would lead you to believe, and I find that the band developed substantially on just about every release after this.
The same thing that makes certain parts of this so good is also it's downfall when it comes to the album's delivery overall: the thrash. It's responsible for some of the best moments on the album, such as the gang vocal chorus on 'A Skull Full Of Maggots' (one of the clearest and most obvious instances of this album being anything but 'pure death metal'), but it's also responsible for diluting many of the most brutal and extreme moments the album has to offer. In a lot of ways it feels like the album is forced to hold itself back by virtue of its thrash influence; it's as if there were a few less skank beats this would suddenly transform into 'Kill', as obviously untrue as that may be. But I can't help but get the feeling that with this album, Cannibal Corpse new they were on the verge of something more brutal and purely death metal and were aware of it, but didn't know exactly how to do it and so reverted back to old standards.
'Eaten Back To Life' has its share of good to great tracks: opener 'Shredded Humans' gets the album off to a tense and very death metal start, and other tracks such as 'Born In A Casket' or 'Bloody Chunks' certainly represent some of the more brutal future of the band. But then songs like 'Mangled' or 'Buried In The Backyard' are tepid and overly thrashy numbers which tend not to go anywhere with their riffsets except in circles. Granted, Cannibal Corpse is one of the first death metal bands, and as such was rather held to the verse-chorus song structure we've all grown to hate, but the tracks here slavishly hold to a handful of riff styles and tempos, so the band never gets a chance to really flex its creative wings. The riffs are certainly the best part of the album and indicate a much brighter future for the band; Cannibal Corpse was probably the first (and still one of the only first-tier DM groups out there) to almost completely eschew melodic passages for an endless series of tense and gory tremolo riffs, and most of them are very good and indicate a band capable of something greater.
I've never been a fan of Barnes on vocals, and ironically this is probably where he's at his worst during his period in Cannibal Corpse. His voice is still essentially a thrash shout, though shifted down an octave or so, and he generally feels weak and dry compared to the riffs. I much prefer the indecipherable, utterly guttural stuff he would start doing on the very next album, and as such his performance here doesn't have a lot of appeal to me and funnily enough is closer to his work with Six Feet Under than later Cannibal Corpse. Drums are also surprisingly thrashy; I don't think there's a single true blast beat anywhere on this CD and the music is content with an endless series of thrash beats. The main problem with them is their dry and cheap-sounding production; the hi-hat in particular is irritatingly jangly and barely rhythmic in tone, and the kit as a whole sounds dry, immediate, and lifeless. The production for the rest of the voices isn't particularly stellar, but that's certainly the weakest point.
This is probably Cannibal Corpse's weakest Barnes era album, and while I don't think it's terrible by any means or even view it as historically unimportant, it's certainly not a necessary purchase by weight of music alone. It's a necessity for anyone with an even minor historical interest in death metal and I recommend it easily on those terms, but I consider the fact that there's a CD worth of music attached to the history as a bonus. Doesn't get a lot of listens from me, but those more inclined towards death/thrash would probably get better mileage.
Usually when discussing a band as important and influential as Cannibal Corpse, the debut album is the most important, and the ones after less so. Not so with Cannibal Corpse; this album is probably the least frequently discussed, even by CC fans themselves, of all of the band's first four albums with Chris Barnes. Which is a little odd, as this isn't the case with most other death metal bands. Morbid Angel's debut, Death's debut, Deicide's debut, and Obituary's debut are all invariably at the forefront of any discussion about those bands by their fans(or critics, even). Why? They are all classic death metal albums, that's why. So is Eaten Back to Life, actually, but unlike the albums by the aforementioned bands, it gets overshadowed by it's successor albums Butchered at Birth and Tomb of the Mutilated.
Why is this? Well, for one thing it isn't as brutal or as heavy as either of those albums. Is it still death metal? Absolutely. It's heavy, fast, brutal, extreme, caustic, aggressive, nasty, vicious - all typical and important death metal characteristics. It also has some memorable and good songs. So why? Is it that much less brutal and heavy and also that much less good overall than the next two or three CC albums?
In some ways, yes. The speed frequently reaches blast beats and the whole album is overall fast and brutal. And the overall production quality isn't at all bad for an album released in 1990. However, the guitar tone is nowhere near as heavy as it is on the next three albums by the band, and the drum tone is, unfortunately, awfully clicky at times. Everything can sound very thin when the album isn't turned up loud enough. This isn't really a problem, especially on the guitar front, which is still more than heavy enough most of the time, but the clicky, sometimes even tinny drum sound is not good and really does make the album seem significantly less heavy than it's successors a lot of the time. The lack of a very strong bottom end foundation here, especially in the bass drums and the guitars and bass, is probably most likely attributable to this problem. Combined with the album's occasional slowdowns into thrashy speeds when it should be more of a blasting speed, and add to that Chris Barnes's vocals, which are nowhere near as low as they would become in the next two albums, and you have the reason why this album seems to have been largely overlooked in favour of the next two albums by the band.
Does this make it a bad album? Not at all. It indeed is less brutal, heavy, and extreme than it's successor albums. But it is still a good album in many ways. Some of the songs here are excellent. Particularly the over five minute opening song "Shredded Humans", the short but great "Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains", and the interesting "Born in a Casket", which is most memorable for it's long opening.
The overall style is very much that typical of old school death metal, and the lyrics typify this even more. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but unlike the next two albums, this album does not try to be even more extreme, brutal, or shocking than any of its counterparts from other bands were at the time, or at least, not by very much - certainly nothing in comparison to what CC did afterwards. The album artwork is a prime example of how much tamer this album is in comparison to what followed; a zombie with a grin on its face standing in a graveyard, ripping out bits of its own guts to eat. Disgusting? Somewhat, yes. More disgusting than most other death metal album covers up to this point? Possibly. But is it so disgusting that it would catch everyone's attention and possibly actually really offend people or seriously horrify them, or would they just see it as typical cartoony splatter horror imagery?
The latter is clearly what happened. The clear evidence for that is how little reaction this album got from the press in general in comparison to Butchered at Birth. No matter how you look at it, a zombie in a graveyard eating its guts is nowhere near as controversial as two zombies cutting apart a pregnant woman and cutting out her unborn child to consume.
What does this all mean? Well, for one thing, less controversy usually means less popularity. Of course metal should never be judged on its popular standing - it can be good or bad regardless of how popular or unpopular it is. Either way, this album's lesser controversy could certainly have contributed to it being less famous or, more correctly infamous, in the metal world, than Butchered at Birth and Tomb of the Mutilated. But that doesn't make it a bad album, not at all. It's a promising start for what would become one of the world's greatest death metal bands, and was still reasonably controversial even if not as much as the next two albums. Certainly, the lyrics are gory, violent, and nasty, but in contrast to the really perverted, sick, screwed up stuff that would appear on the next album and even more so on the one after that, the gore is more "normal" as typifies slasher and zombie horror flicks. Zombies eating people, mad doctors torturing people, zombies eating themselves, mutants, robbing graves etc, rather than really perverted and disturbing lyrics based on necrophilia, pedophilia, horrific rape, insanity, and the like.
As for Chris Barnes' death growls...well, they are quite low for their time, fairly extreme in their style, and very aggressive, but they are not very guttural or extremely low like they would become on the following albums. They are slightly more raspy and less deep, which still works fine, even if not quite as well as the really extremely low growls that were soon to come.
And again, the music is good. Not fantastic, but still good.
This album would probably be a good introduction for metalheads new to Cannibal Corpse or to death metal in general, as it is at least slightly less extreme than what followed. It's good, solid death metal that shows a band ready to take over the world with their brand of ultra gory death metal. And that's exactly what they soon did.
Of all of the more well-known death metal bands out there, I've always thought that Cannibal Corpse were pretty much the worst. Having heard much of their work with both Chris Barnes and George Fisher, I gave this band a chance time after time and always ended up sorry that I did. While all their albums usually had one or two worthwhile songs, most of their stuff is just bland, uninspired, and boring death metal, with lazy drumming, repetitive and grating vocals, and a dull selection of riffs. Up until recently, I had pretty much completely written off Cannibal Corpse as a band that will never really change for the better, and therefore a band that I will never like.
Then I finally heard Eaten Back To Life.
Holy shit, what exactly happened to this band after this amazing debut? This is a fantastic album in pretty much every aspect. Considering this came out in 1990, when most death metal bands were still fighting to distance themselves from the extreme-thrash from which they were birthed, Eaten Back To Life stands, along with other groundbreaking releases such as Altars Of Madness and Deicide, as one of the earliest examples of pure, full-on death metal. Sure, there is still some traces of thrash here; in fact, its present more than on any of the band’s subsequent albums. But the influence lies more in the tone of some of the riffs (check out “Rotting Head“ for an example of this), rather than the song structures, which consist of all the blasting speed, brutal slowdowns, and deranged solos that would define much of early-90’s death metal.
But what really stands out about this release is how fundamentally catchy and well-written these songs are. What I’ve always disliked most about Cannibal Corpse was their apparent refusal to sound like they were actually enjoying playing what they were playing, but every song on Eaten Back to life bursts with energy and enthusiasm, the result of a young band who hadn’t yet killed their love for their own music and was still just having fun with their craft. Pretty much every riff on this one is a winner, and each track has enough hooks to not only make the songs memorable (another thing this band would seemingly disregard in the future) but fucking addicting. These guys obviously put a lot of time into making these songs as good as they could be, and it shows in every aspect of the album. From the outrageous chorus of “Mangled” to the palpable melody (?!) in “Bloody Chunks” and “Buried In the Backyard” to all the little touches, such as the blasting drum solo that introduces the main part of “Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains,” this is old-school, gory death metal at its absolute finest.
While the band’s musicianship would obviously improve on subsequent albums, the more primitive playing on Eaten Back to Life (though still pretty damn technical) definitely works in the band’s favor on this release, allowing the members to stop tripping over themselves to write music as technical as possible and just play the damn songs. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz’s unique reliance on the “backwards blast” gives the songs a great, off-kilter feel that suit’s the riffs perfectly, and Chris Barne’s raspier, higher-register vocals are way catchier and more effective than the endless grunting of future albums. Guitar and bass work are top-notch of course, and the production on this album is surprisingly good; with its hefty tone and instrument clarity, its strange to think how bad the production on some of their other albums was…this was their debut after all.
I guess Cannibal Corpse can be summed up as simply another band that started out full of ideas and inspiration and just lost it all after their debut. Considering how much of a step down Butchered At Birth is in every aspect compared to this album, its almost hard to believe they came from the same band, and only one year later at that! I’m not sure what exactly happened to this band that stripped them of their talents and turned them into one of death metal‘s biggest lame ducks; perhaps it was the pressure of competing in a genre exploding with great new bands, or maybe they just got so fixated on being gorier and more shocking than everyone else that they simply lost sight of the music itself. But it doesn’t really matter, because Eaten Back to Life is a brilliant death metal album. Its well played, well produced, innovative and catchy as fuck. And in old-school death metal, what else do you really need? A classic.
Any fan of Cannibal Corpse's recently releases will be absolutely destroyed apon listening to "Eaten back to life". Lots of tempo changes, fast drums, killer riffs. Eaten back to life, is not as sloppy as much of what Cannibal Corpse has done in the last 10 years. Solid riffs and a hell of alot of headbanging moments. Songs such as "Edible Autopsy", "Put them to death" and "Shredded Humans" absolutely kills everything C.C. Has ever put out.
While I don't know if most would agree with me, I'm gonna have to say this album is also the catchiest album in the Corpse library. Upon listening to Born in a casket I doubt any metal fan will be able to not shout "I love to fuck the dead, Demons in my head, tearing at my brain!". They lyrics by Chris Barnes are not his most graphic and gory but they are probably the least cheesy. (Excluding of course, Born in a casket, totally lame lyrics but catchy none the less)
"Eaten back to life" has the best production of any CD C.C. has ever put out, Scott Burns does a hell of a job turning the knobs for this album. No instrument stands to high in the mix. The guitars sound clearer and crisper than any other album. Nice trading guitar solos and leads, just check out the end of "Shredded Humans". The bass is hardly heard, but hey, most death metal albums are all like that, so no real problem on that front. Chris actually sounds mean on this album un like his vocal style used on "The Bleeding" and now with Six Feet Under.
All in all, this is the best Cannibal Corpse album, of any point in their careers. If you listen to Corpse Grinder era Corpse, but never heard this album, you're missing out. Best Cannibal Corpse CD period...best tracks are "Shredded Humans" "Born in a casket" "Put them to death" and "Mangled" With Glen Benton of deicide and Francis Howard of Incubus on backing vocals
This is the debut from CC and its very good. It has little in common with the cds that would come later by the band. This is still death metal, but I see very much thrash influence on here. It strongly reminds me of Sepultura, with Schizophrenia mixed with Beneath the Remains. Chris Barnes vocals are somewhat similar to Max in some songs, but more growling. You can understand sometimes what he is saying though and its not as brutal as Chris will prove with the next few CC albums.
The cd opens with Shredded Humans which takes about 20 seconds to actually start, but this is the sound that band would go on for many cds to come and this is classic CC right here. First though, some will notice the production is slightly thinner/weaker than the other cds from the band, but i mean really, this is their debut & it did come out in 1990. Traces of the Sepultura influence show here, at least to me. I see it a lot in the riff work & the drumming. At 3:00 I can just picture hearing Max growling, slaves...of pain!!
Edible Autopsy (hmmmmm autopsy...) is next and as a change, the band has written a ballad! Ok seriously, this is pure CC, meaning its similar to the song before it and the song after it. Theres nothing wrong with that though. This song has a repeated riff though during the first part and it gets kind of annoying, but Chris helps with this as his vocals come in and the song changes. It has a few good headbanging moments.
I won't go through every song on here. This is a good cd though, like I said, there is some thrash to be found in here. The song titles as over the top as any of the other cds, though it just sticks to death/gore related lyrics and we haven't touched upon the porno songs yet, like what will show up on Tomb of the Mutilated. Also, after this cd, the vocals get more brutal and the music becomes much more death metal. This is maybe my fave CC cd, though I still love all the ones with Chris Barnes. If you need a stepping stone to get into CC, start with this cd. If you like it, then move on to the heavier stuff from the band. Some more of the Sepultura influence shows up again, like in Skull Full of Maggots, but only musically. The solo in Rotting Head is Slayer all the way.
best songs imo: Shredded Humans, Mangled, Rotting Head & Buried in the Backyard.