Cannibal Corpse are among the originators of hyper brutal, gory album covers, which has been both to the band’s benefit (word of mouth shock value) and chagrin (certain countries once banning the sale of certain albums). It is a towering visual legacy and, with the 15th Cannibal Corpse album, Violence Unimagined, on the way, drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz named the single most disgusting album cover in a ranked feature for We Are the Pit.
Looking back on 15 album covers, it wasn’t difficult for Mazurkiewicz to identify the “least” brutal piece of art that has adorned a Cannibal Corpse studio album.
“I’d have to go Kill as the most tame since basically there is no artwork on that cover,” said the drummer, unsurprisingly. “We have the piece that Vince drew, the zombie guy with the knife that’s inside [the CD],” he continued, “But if we’re talking about the cover, that wasn’t on the cover, it was just the word ‘KILL.’ It’s a great album, of course, and a cool title, but obviously it would have to be our least offensive, since there’s no artwork.”
Mazurkiewicz was more than fair in his assessments and even acknowledged the censored cover art for 1994’s The Bleeding, which showcased an enlarged piece of a torso rather than the full, grisly original that Cannibal Corpse perhaps intended to use. The closeup was the official cover that hit the shelves and the full image wasn’t made available until a 2006 reissue.
Reflecting on the various color schemes, the use of nightmarish fantasy and more realistic touches for varying levels of impact, Mazurkiewicz worked his way up to his No. 1 choice — 1991’s Butchered at Birth.
“How can Butchered not be No. 1? The all-time most disturbing cover, arguably, in music,” Cannibal Corpse’s drummer affirmed.
Taking fans back to his initial impression of the barbaric piece by Vincent Locke, Mazurkiewicz explained, ”Man, I’ll never forget seeing Butchered for the first time. We were blown away by it, just like, how CRAZY it was. Especially going from Eaten [Back to Life, the band’s first album] — which was a great cover — to seeing something like that was just…WHOA. This is taking it to a whole different level. Even looking at it to this day, it’s never not disgusting. It’s never not that piece that you look at and say, ‘This is crazy. I can’t believe these guys did that.'”
The runner-up was Violence Unimagined, which shows a crazed woman eating a severed fetus which she had apparently ripped from her own womb. Surrounding her are mangled bodies, guts and brains littered all over the floor.
“I think Vince did an amazing job capturing old-school Cannibal covers that we’ve done in the past. It’s pretty disturbing, very bloody — just an intense cover,” attested Mazurkiewicz, who added, “This was one of those where we had the title, but no idea. I thought, ‘Man, I’m not gonna even think of the concept with this one,’ like I did with, say, Red Before Black. We came up with the title and said, ‘You know what? Let Vince go on his own.’ He came back with a couple ideas, some for us to choose from, and then yeah, we went from there. It’s cool to work with him on his own. He’ll take leads from us, but I’m sure he’s happy to do it on his own.”
Violence Unimagined drops April 16 on Metal Blade. Watch the NSFW new video for the first single, “Inhumane Harvest,” here.
Cannibal Corpse, Butchered at Birth Album Cover