I had the first four Cannibal Corpse albums, but sold them in a moment of financial desperation. I was convinced I wasn't missing anything. It seemed fairly derivative at the time, treading the same sort of musical ground as Suffocation, except with worse vocals and more offensive lyrics. What a waste, it seemed, to have these (sometimes) great horror/gore lyrics, and then render them incomprehensible.
Fast–forward a number of years. I'm bored and scanning the CD racks in a Korean music store, when I stumbled across this album I'd never seen before. Bootlegs and piracy are common in Korea (anyone else ever heard of a Pantera album called "A Vulgar Display of Cowboys?"), but this is no bootleg. This is a special official Korea–only release.
Basically, it's a greatest hits package from Chris Barnes–era 'Corpse, possibly issued to introduce George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher to Korean fans, but it is also possible Cannibal Corpse was banned in Korea for some time due to harsh censorship laws. While the majority of tracks feature Barnes, Corpsegrinder is not left off the album. There's the spoken (growled) intro to "Shredded Humans", the "Special Message From Hell To Korea". Yeah, nice message George. Fucked if I can understand it! He's also on the live version of "Hammer Smashed Face", where the band prove they can deliver the full gore splattered mess out of the studio.
Anyway, what had I been missing? The quintessential gore loving death metal band, that's what! Oh, the rekindled memories! "Skull Full Of Maggots" distinctive opening riff, the shouty parts of "Mangled", the moshpit favourite "Hammer Smashed Face", the delightful psychotic intro sample to "Addicted to Vaginal Skin", the churning blood–soaked collection of riffs, the blatant snare drum abuse, the gut rumbling bass, the vocals pitched lower than a bison's belch, the cheesy lyrical tales of homicidal mayhem and undead misadventure. Why had I denied myself such delights?
While this album is an excellent starting point for new 'Corpse fans (or former fans to rediscover forgotten memories), are non — Korean fans who own the first four albums missing out on much? To be brutally honest, no. There's the aforementioned "Message From Hell" and the live track, and a reasonable cover of Black Sabbath's post–Ozzy track "Zero The Hero". There's also a nice live shot poster, and a cardboard slipcase wrapping up the entire package. A poster, a live track, and a cover hardly warrant a trip to Korea to find a copy though. Find the tracks on the net if you must, but it's hardly worth the outrageous auction prices demanded in some quarters.
That said, I'm not parting with my copy for any amount of money!