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Cannibal Corpse 

With Dark Funeral, Pissing Razors, and Incantation. Sunday, March 31, at the Agora Theatre.

Cannibal Corpse began as the musical equivalent of chair-throwing on The Morton Downey Jr. Show. Putting sensationalism and violence above content, the band compensated for a clear lack of ability at the early '90s onset of its career with pointedly scandalous cuts such as "Entrails Ripped From a Virgin's Cunt," "Addicted to Vaginal Skin," and "I Cum Blood."

But despite being marred by Chris Barnes's ridiculous cupped-microphone growls, shoddy songwriting, and staggering misogyny, Cannibal Corpse's unparalleled lyrical depravity made it one of the biggest bands in death metal -- even if critics normally left the band as battered and blood-soaked as the victims in its songs.

By its classic fourth disc, The Bleeding, Cannibal Corpse began to come into its own. Guitarists Jack Owen and new addition Rob Barrett formed one of the most technically proficient combos in death metal, and Barnes began to sing in a somewhat decipherable manner -- a big improvement, for sure. But just as it was hitting its stride, the group split acrimoniously with Barnes -- who now fronts the popular Six Feet Under -- and brought in ex-Monstrosity vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher.

And though Fisher is a superb growler, with better range than his predecessor, he lacks the personality of the always-irritable, weed-huffing, conspiracy-theory-professing Barnes. Consequently, Cannibal Corpse has become what no one could have predicted: a good band whose offensiveness has taken a back seat to its musicianship. Now that's shocking.

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