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An excellent start for death metal's biggest band - 83%

12disneyhater, August 23rd, 2015

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.