Cannibal Corpse - Butchered at Birth
Metal Blade
Death Metal
9 songs (36:35)
Release year: 1991
Cannibal Corpse, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

I feel crazy for doing this, since I’m sure most of the readers of my reviews have probably noticed that I stick to one genre for the purpose of a weeklong consistency. This week might be the first where I jump genres. Even though I am sticking to Extreme Metal, I am reviewing two very separate bands. So here it is, the second Death Metal album I ever heard at the ripe age of 9. Admittedly, at that age this material scared the Hell out of me, and it took about a year or so of only returning to said music out of dark temptation, only to be repelled away by the sheer horrors of what my childish, virgin ears had never been exposed to. Along the lines with my first classic review, this is the second album, starting with the second Death Metal song I have ever heard. This is the bloodbath entitled Butchered at Birth by Death Metal legends, Cannibal Corpse.

Say what you will about them, but half of you probably heard first about Death Metal because Cannibal Corpse popularized it. Hell, they’re Jim Carrey’s favorite band. And if Jim Carrey likes them enough to feature them in one of his most infamous films, than you know you’ve got yourself a band with at least some sort of wider acceptance. In fact, if not for the efforts of politicians like Bob Dole, Al Gore, and his monstrous abomination for an ex-wife, Tipper, Cannibal Corpse might not be as incredibly notorious.

I was always unsure of why politicians would tend to go right after Death Metal (even with intensely graphic lyrics) when rappers are releasing albums each day with lyrics consisting of a promotion of gang warfare, drug trade, and superficiality. But I digress, who cares if they’re banned in Korea, or Australia, or Germany? Cannibal Corpse found their fame here in Florida, and they always treat us right. While I do prefer the Corpsegrinder era, there tends to be times when I reach back almost exclusively to the Barnes era for weeks at a time. It just seems that the strength of the band is the multi range of the vocals and the strength of the stringed instruments. Save for bassist Alex Webster, the riffs and solos are significantly better post Vile. This does not mean in any way that the riffs and guitar work lacks any sort of slaying capability at all. The guitars are just more technical and constructive. If I want sheer brutality and maximum violence however, I’ll look no further than Butchered at Birth. It is rather understandable why advocacy groups would go headstrong after this album. The cover features a cringe worthy image of a couple of zombies performing an abortion with a blunt knife, while above the surgical table several aborted fetuses, each in varying states of decay, hang above them like Christmas lights. I am sure that during this time, Christian group were not so happy with this.

The music is equally as heavy as Eaten Back to Life on the basis of the energy level. But what makes Butchered at Birth the heaviest of the Barnes era is the production, the riff structure, and the simplicity of the rhythm section. A few months back I posted in the forum a question regarding the drumming of Paul, (I’m not going to attempt to type the last name) inquiring whether you all thought that they were better off with a straight, fundamentally sound drummer with little technical prowess, or a George Kollias/Gene Hoglan type. I am still firmly rooted in the belief that what’s best for Cannibal Corpse is what they have right now on the drums. This is one of the few remaining Death Metal bands where the strings lay the foundation for their sound. Bands like Death have ceased to exist, and the magical strings of Cynic no longer play much Death Metal. We might not equate the guitarists on this album, Jack Owen and Bob Rusay, universally as the best in Death Metal. In fact, Rusay is actually a golf instructor in Arizona, but that’s beside the point. They work so well cohesively as a unit. There is no “I” in team. Much like there is no “me” in Extreme Metal guitar work. The guitars on Butchered at Birth stepped up ten notches. This is one of the great guitar performances in all of early Death Metal.

Cannibal Corpse start off the album with a masterful track titled Meat Hook Sodomy. The first riff after the minute plus intro roars through your speakers in a whirl of bloody explosiveness. It is an extremely fast riff, played at the high register of the lower strings. What follows are some of the most sickening lyrics to ever be recorded. I cannot remember if they played it while I was at their show, but Cannibal Corpse seem to still reach back to Butchered at Birth for those fans that have been there since the beginning. That is what makes Cannibal Corpse a leader in Death Metal. They appreciate their past, embrace the present, and surge forward to the future.

Of course after the madness that is Meat Hook Sodomy the next track rolls in, Gutted. Nothing ever gets old, even though the album is pretty much all written from a similar premise. If not for Meat Hook Sodomy my favorite track would probably be Vomit the Soul. This song has a groove element to it that Cannibal Corpse should work to capture more often. Butchered at Birth is hotly debated as to whether it is a true ironbound ode to brutality or simply haggard drivel. But I strongly feel this is one of the strongest efforts of the golden age of Death Metal. The only unfortunate part about this album is that it ends far too quickly. It only has 9 tracks, but it is some of the most violent Death Metal ever recorded. Every instrument is played in perfect harmony. Equally as important is the production and the excellent songwriting. Everyone steps up their game here. Sure, Tomb of the Mutilated will get the classic rating, and all the credit, but Butchered at Birth had Cannibal Corpse hitting the ground at full pace. It is so difficult for anyone who loves this band as much as I do to name their favorite album or even top 3, but it is hard to deny the importance Butchered at Birth had on both Cannibal Corpse and the genre as a whole.

Killing Songs :
All but Meat Hook Sodomy and Vomit the Soul are the best.
Tony quoted 96 / 100
Other albums by Cannibal Corpse that we have reviewed:
Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Cannibal Corpse - Torture reviewed by Tony and quoted 100 / 100
Cannibal Corpse - Bloodthirst reviewed by Tony and quoted 83 / 100
Cannibal Corpse - Tomb of the Mutilated reviewed by Tony and quoted CLASSIC
Cannibal Corpse - Vile reviewed by Phil and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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