|Mmmmm intestines X)|
The above image is the album artwork for Cannibal Corpse’s first cd, Eaten Back to Life released in 1990. The band itself is a five piece American death metal band from Buffalo, New York. They are widely known for causing controversy due to their lyrical content and album artwork which all depict extreme acts of graphic violence. However in response to this the band has explained that it is all art and artwork that depicts acts of violence that did occur in real life can be found in various places all over the world and that each song tells a story without the intention of promoting violence. From there first album to their 2006 release Kill each album cover has contained graphic images.
The violent artwork for each album does play an important role for the band. It gives imagery. Because Cannibal Corpse is a death metal band, violent artwork would be very fitting. However this album in particular contains only two songs about cannibalism. Even though the lyrical content does not always have to follow the album name, the art work has a dark color scheme to it making uses of many dark warm colors and a few dark cool colors which also adds a dark atmosphere that the music has a slight hint of to their sound.
Although the artwork itself is controversial (as with later album covers) it has the ability to grab attention because of this. As humans we are instantly drawn to displays of extreme brutality. Sexual and violent themes are able to grab the attention of most humans be it controversial or not. A parent, schoolteacher, or many other adults that work with children or have children would be more than likely to have their attention caught by this if seen somewhere. Because of its gruesome display of violence, the person in particular would look more closely at the artwork as well and even look at the whole cd case itself, only to deem it inappropriate. Anyone who enjoys a wide variety of music and is looking for something new would see this and would most likely listen to the CD for a bit. Had it not been for the violent artwork, it would have a hard time grabbing the attention of others and have a hard time selling copies.
As far as interpellation goes, this artwork calls out to consumers by displaying something that we cannot (and most likely will never) see occur in real life. In reality, there is no chance of seeing a zombie consuming its own organs and flesh in a graveyard. Because this is something that we are unable to see occur in real life it calls out to us with a display that says “Here is an escape from reality.” In many cases music for some is a way to forget about what they are going through in their lives and can tell a story for listeners to escape to. In addition, it is a way to release aggression from stress that occurs in the real world as we grow older. By using a fictional display of violence (or to some, horror) we are drawn to it. If drawn to the display enough, we look further into it, and it leads to purchase of the product it is displayed on. Others might develop an ideological stance and deem it inappropriate. In the past many senators have tried banning artwork like this only to be rejected. By using a display of something that we cannot see in real life, it draws more attention.
Although Cannibal Corpse is an icon in the Death Metal scene itself, the artwork for Eaten Back to Life is an icon as well along with the album. The CD itself contains tracks that are to this day still played life and most well-known amongst Cannibal Corpse fans. In many metal documentaries when going into Death Metal and go into the history of Cannibal Corpse, this album artwork is one of the main covers that shows up during an interview or a very short sideshow. The artwork for this particular album caused it to become banned in many countries as well. The artwork is also one of the first early violent album covers in the death metal genre to gain much attention by the media. Most of this attention however was negative due to it becoming banned in some countries and many causing uproar over its violent display. However despite this the album would go on to sell well as would other albums in their career.
The artwork for the album would be considered a part of low culture. First off, the music itself would be considered low culture and due to the fact that the artwork is extremely gory. The fact that the zombie on the cover is ripping out its own organs and consuming them puts it on a whole other lever of violence taking it to the extreme. There are also elements of horror present in the background due to its setting being in a cemetery and what appears to be a head hung from an intestine and two human torsos which appear to have sections of themselves consumed, one of them missing a whole head. The violence level of this art can be categorized with a modern day gore movies such as the Saw series or one of the movies in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. Artwork with such violence would most likely be placed under the category of low culture along with the style of music it is put in place with.
The value of this art is subjective to the viewer. For some it is placed on a high level as for some reason it is important to them. For others it may be deemed disgusting for reasons that are understandable. Many people who are fans of the music or band in particular would be most likely to see this as something great, it would be held in high regard. There may be some who are not fans that might enjoy this as well due to their personal taste in artwork and their values. However, there are also many that would look down upon it due to their values. Many parents restrict their children from seeing an amount of violence such as this. The value of this work is mainly up to the viewer as far as its value goes.