The World’s Best Cover Band loves Cannibal Corpse and Marijuana
For the purposes of this argument, I want to admit that I didn’t become a big Cannibal Corpse fan until I watched Centuries of Torment, a commemorative documentary of the band’s twenty-year history that consumed an entire weekend and spurred me to run out and buy up their back-catalog (and yes, I was still buying CDs in 2008). Truthfully, it was hard to watch that thing and not think they were the greatest death metal band on the planet. After all, it really was just three hours of praise by friends and fans of the band. Just an elaborate press release made to make them look like, surprise, the greatest death metal band on the planet.
Anyway, I ended up regretting that brief infatuation when I discovered that they were playing more or less the same album every time, just successively faster. This wasn’t necessarily a problem in itself, most metalheads prefer consistency over experimentation, it’s just that their one album didn’t click with me all that much.
It’s funny then that I should be so shamelessly won over by something that, at it’s essence, is a high-concept cover band. Cannabis Corpse (note the difference there) do play original songs, but they are as much in the key of the source material as is legally allowable. Their song titles are also marijuana-inflected twists on the originals like “Disposal of the Baggy,” “Blunted at Birth,” or “Force Fed Shitty Grass.” There is a debate to be had on how much merit should be awarded here, and I say there is much. Yes, it is obviously derivative, but it’s also honestly derivative.
We have an inflated sense of what constitutes originality, calling something genius when it is really just a more clever use of influence. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all steal greedily from everything around us. It’s what makes up the lens through which you will filter your own creation, innate as your mother tongue. Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch famously said that simply embracing this true nature and process of creation would lead to more authentic, and presumably more engaging, art. After my zillionth spin of Cannabis Corpse’s Tube of the Resinated (like Tomb of the Mutilated), I’m inclined to agree with him.
The band is forthcoming about their admittedly simplistic lineage, but yield surprisingly potent results. Like their name and song titles, so too is the music infected with sticky green. Guitarist Nick Poulous and bassist Philip Hall take parts of Cannibal Corpse I liked the most, the pockets of groove dotting the hyper-speed, diminished riffing, and expand on them, widening those pockets into fully realized passages of otherworldly groove, like the riff that hammers down at the 1:43 mark in “Mummified in Bong Water.” Some songs, like “Fucked with Northern Lights,” also bliss out in long segments of eerie distortion. It’s where I always wanted Cannibal Corpse to go but never did.
So is Cannabis Corpse better than Cannibal Corpse? Impossible to say. All I can tell you is that I ‘ll pick Cannabis any day of the week. These boys clearly love Cannibal Corpse and have taken the sound further, if only by a small fraction. They’re not hiding trying to hide their influences, rather they embrace them, and that’s more than I can say for most.
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