Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - 15 Year Killing Spree (2003)

15 Year Killing Spree is a large fan package put together well into Cannibal Corpse's career as a vehicle to release some material that has not previously been available to their mass legions of fans. I would tell you that no expense was spared on this, as it has great packaging, new artwork, guitar pick, a poster, a comic, 3 audio discs, some booklets, and a DVD, but in truth, the first two discs are comprised of previously available material and this severely cripples the value in my opinion. Still, if you have an opportunity to acquire this cheaply, it is worth it for the third disc, which features some songs you may not have heard, or at least some alternate takes on tracks that you have.

First, of course, come the compilation discs, which offer a slew of tracks from their first eight albums (from Eaten Back to Life to Gore Obsessed) and the Worm Infested EP, with a few live cuts thrown in the mix rather than their studio counterparts. The track list is largely predictable, but I was rather relieved at the inclusion of some of their less 'staple' and amazing tunes, like "The Cryptic Stench", "Disfigured" and "Sanded Faceless". The live versions included are "I Cum Blood", "Fucked With a Knife", "Unleashing the Bloodthirsty" and "Meathook Sodomy". The cover of Black Sabbath's "Zero the Hero" from the Hammer Smashed Face EP is also present. Though the discs contain 32 tracks, there is truly a pervasive sense of redundancy, for most Cannibal Corpse fans with the devotion to purchase this product already have all of the albums they have been drawn from...and it does feel like a waste of space. But for the sense of completion, I'm not sure what else they could have included in the package. More live work? Cannibal Corpse is not a band with a boatload of rare material to spare, most of what they write is good enough to make it to the studio albums.

This is where Disc 3 comes in...the most worthwhile of the lot. It begins with the entire 1989 demo, which is pretty rare these days, so any fan without a legitimate copy of the cassette could now claim to have their meathooks on the material. The tracks from hte demo are "Skull Full of Maggots", "The Undead Will Feast", "Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains", "Put Them to Death", and "Bloody Chunks", all of which sound more raw than the debut album, and vocals which border more on thrash/crossover in places than death, though the growls still appear. I prefer the album versions myself, but at least this is interesting to hear. The next seven tracks provide another treat, as they are the original Created to Kill sessions, basically the demo tracks done for the Vile album, with Chris Barnes on the vocals! So if you ever wanted to hear that material with the original singer before his departure, you have "Unburied Horror", "Mummified in Barbed Wire", "Gallery of the Obscene", "To Kill Myself", "Bloodlands", "Puncture Wound Massacre" and "Devoured by Vermin", some of which wound up on the full-length with George Fisher's vocals, some getting a name change (for example, "Gallery of the Obscene" becomes "Orgasm Through Torture"). The demo sessions for Gallery of Suicide are also included: "Chambers of Blood", "Dismembered and Molested", "Gallery of Suicide", "Unite the Dead", "Crushing the Despised", and "Headless", and while this is also nice to have for the completist, the final versions on the album are superior in all cases.

Rounding out this disc of bonus material are a trio of covers, which are honestly the best material in this entire collection. First is the treatment of "Bethany Home (A Place to Die)" from the 1987 More Fun Than an Open Funeral Casket from Seattle splatter pioneers The Accüsed. Fun song, a fun version, and well worth a few scene points. Next is Kreator's classic "Endless Pain", which is given a brutal delivery here that completely kicks ass, with Fisher going ape wild on the vocals and the guitars thrusting away like Mille and crew simply weren't capable of due to the original production value. But the best of the three is the Cannibalized "Behind Bars", covered from Razor's excellent 1988 album Violent Restitution. It is almost always fantastic when a successful band does proper justice to a lesser known influence, and in this case justice is served, no pun intended. It sounds so good that you wonder if Cannibal Corpse really wrote the song in the first place. In general, these three tracks are the real treat of the release, and had they been issued on a full-fledged album of covers, the value would be far greater.

Disc 4 is a DVD with live footage from four sources: their first gig in 1989; studio takes from the Butchered at Birth sessions in 1991; Cannibal Corpse Eats Moscow Alive in 1993; and lastly, from a live performance at The Palace in Hollywood, in 2002. In my opinion the footage from their debut gig is the most interesting, but the footage of the band in the studio during their formative years might also please fans. Their live performances are much like any you may have seen in person, but if you haven't had the chance, you can know check it out on your widescreen TV.

I can't completely recommend this release because so much of it is redundant to what you've already listened to, but if you are a death metal collector who wants the complete spread of Corpse's work, it allows you to gather some of their rarer pieces in one place. This is not so easy to find these days, and I certainly do not advise anyone to spend some ridiculous amount of money on it. Cannibal Corpse hooked up the box with a lot of extras, but unless you're some fanatic fanboy or fangirl who actually salivates over a band's poster or guitar pick, you're not going to derive a lot of value from these contents. As a compilation from this band was inevitable, I'd have to say they did a fair job at putting it together. I simply would have preferred a lot more rare or unreleased material, maybe some exclusive new tracks, etc. But it was not to be...and today I only visit this boxed set for the three cover songs I don't have elsewhere.

Verdict: Indifference [5/10]

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