CANNIBAL CORPSE’s ALEX WEBSTER Explains How Lineup Changes Have Affected Band’s Sound

Alex Webster 2021

In a new interview with Australia’s Heavy, CANNIBAL CORPSE bassist Alex Webster discussed how lineup changes over the years have affected the band’s sound.

On April 16th, CANNIBAL CORPSE will release their fifteenth studio album, Violence Unimagined, via Metal Blade Records.

While they continue to do what they do with aplomb, the one substantial change to CANNIBAL CORPSE in 2020 is the addition of guitarist Erik Rutan to their ranks, joining Webster, founding drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, guitarist Rob Barrett and vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. Known for his roles in MORBID ANGELRIPPING CORPSE and most notably fronting the mighty HATE ETERNALRutan has long established himself as one of the most dynamic forces in contemporary death metal. Simultaneously, he has built up a reputation as one of the most in demand producers in metal, having previously produced four CANNIBAL CORPSE albums, alongside the likes of GOATWHORE, SOILENT GREEN and BELPHEGOR. Filling in live on guitar since 2019, in 2020 he became a full member, contributing to the writing process.

Webster said about lineup changes: “First of all, we have an idea, and we had an idea from the very beginning, really, what we wanted the band to be. And the general idea of the band was we wanna be fast, aggressive, fairly kind of dark sounding — which is kind of a redundant thing to say about death metal, because that’s a requirement for all death metal, really, is that it has kind of a bit of a gloomy feeling in addition to the aggression.

“We want that to be in there, and we had that idea from the beginning, really. And also that the lyrics were gonna be horror. And, of course, they leaned more gore in the early days, although there’s still tons of gore, but we’ve kind of expanded and kept the horror thing going. So we had an idea of what we wanted the band to be, and we’ve stuck with that throughout the lineup changes. And anyone who joins kind of has to know that that’s what we do. And we try to pick people for the band that we think are going to be on the same page.

“There’s a bunch of great musicians that we know, and when there’s been a lineup change looming and we have to find somebody, we’ll think about some people, and we’ll think, ‘Well, this guy’s a cool guy and he’s an awesome musician, but he wouldn’t really love what we’re doing. So that has to be a requirement too — it’s not just how good the person can play; they have to understand what our music is about.

“For example, Erik fits that description completely,” Webster continued. “The guy has 30-years-plus of experience in death metal, just like we do, and on top of it, he’s produced four of our albums in the past. And then, before joining as a full member, he had already toured with us for a year. So he had this very deep understanding of what CANNIBAL CORPSE‘s music was supposed to be. And that’s actually particularly important for Erik, because his own style of death metal that he’s done for years is fairly distinct. I think you can hear his lead playing in the things he’s done with MORBID ANGELHATE ETERNAL and RIPPING CORPSE, of course; you can hear when it’s him playing, and you can kind of tell his writing style too.

“So it was important that someone with such a distinct style also knew a lot about our style and how to integrate, and he did — he did so well. And that’s how it’s been throughout. Like when Pat [O’Brien] joined back in the late ’90s, he fit right in. We’d heard his previous band, CEREMONY, and we knew that, ‘This is not the same, but he’ll fit.’ And he did — he fit great.

And then Rob [Barrett, guitar] coming back in in 2005, that was the last lineup change before this one,” he continued. “That was a real energizing moment. Of course, Rob already had written a bunch of great stuff with us in the ’90s, on The Bleeding and Vile, and then he left for a while, but he came back. And that really ushered in a very great period of time for our band. The past five albums, we were really happy with that lineup. So having this change now, we’re hoping that this will be another — we’ll see about five albums, but we’ll do a whole bunch of albums with this lineup. We’re very excited about it. Erik is a highly skilled guy, very energetic and a great friend of ours, and he brings a lot of new energy to the table. And it feels like another sort of new chapter starting, the same way it was when Rob, for example, rejoined in 2005.”