George Corpsegrinder Fisher is one of the most iconic death metal vocalists and frontmen of all time. As the longtime frontman for Cannibal Corpse (who, you may have noticed have just been announced as a headliner for Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Philly in June), he has garnered a reputation as one of the most dependable and consistent vocalists in the genre. In less than two weeks, Corpsegrinder drops his first solo album, so Decibel caught up with the legendary vocalist about the five heavy albums that changed his life.
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
That basically is what changed my view of music in general. My father was always a Rolling Stones rock guy and my mother listened to Frankie Valli, Herman’s Hermits, had a lot of old country like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings and stuff.
I heard Black Sabbath. That pretty much changed my whole mentality about music and started me on the path of ever thinking about wanting to be in a band.
The song “Black Sabbath,” it was just scary. I mean, it was like, “Woah!” When you hear it, Ozzy’s voice is just… I wouldn’t be here without Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. In a death metal capacity, I would say there are other bands that put me where I’m at as a death metal singer but wanting to be a musician of any sort, it was Black Sabbath without a doubt.
Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath
My favorite album of all time is Don’t Break the Oath. It’s dark, it’s evil. Some people even try to equate it to being a black metal and I don’t know if I’d go with that, but it’s like Black Sabbath even further. When I first heard the song “Black Sabbath,” I was scared out of my wits but there’s an eeriness about [Mercyful Fate] and King Diamond’s voice is the most unique voice in heavy metal. No one sounds like him and no one will ever try to do it. If you listen to a record and singing in that style, you’re like, “It’s King Diamond.”
I would put in the top five heavy metal vocalists of all time, my personal opinion. I think everyone should agree with my personal opinion. [laughs]
Death – Scream Bloody Gore
Scream Bloody Gore is another record that changed everything for me. I had that record and I loved it. Possessed is the first death metal band, 100%, but I think the beginning of what we know as modern death metal with bands like Obituary and Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Death is one of the beginnings of all that. Scream Bloody Gore and their demos are really amazing.
I use this record as an example because it’s the first album they did but when it changed for me, I saw them play in Baltimore, MD at this place called Godfrey’s Ballroom. If there were 50 people there, you were lucky. They were supposed to play with this band Dead Brain Cells from Canada and Dead Brain Cells didn’t make the show, but I was in the front row like right in front of Chuck Schuldiner. I’m pretty sure Leprosy was not out yet. They had this huge setlist, played all these great songs and when they started and he started singing, it changed my whole mind.
To me, he’s the greatest death metal singer and I don’t sing in the style that he does. He had a lot of Jeff Becerra in his voice, but when I saw it live, all that high stuff he does changed everything for me. It cemented it. I’m not going to try to sing anymore, I’m gonna do that. I’m going to do long screams, I want to do them really high.
Slayer – Reign in Blood
All the fast singing on Reign in Blood, that changed the game. There’s a lot of speed singing on there and very precise enunciation and that changed the game for me, for sure. I would be in my room in the early ’90s, just death metal, death metal, death metal. When I wanted to be a singer, I would just sit in my room and sing along to the records I was listening to.
I remember Reign in Blood had been out for a while, but when I wanted to sing death metal I would try to sing it in a death metal voice and sing those lyrics really fast. It was hard, it took a lot of practice to go over how fast some of the lyrics are, like “Jesus Saves.” Some of the speed singing in those songs is just insane. Even the song “Hell Awaits” on Hell Awaits. When I first heard Slayer, I wasn’t trying to sing super-low brutal, but once I started, I always wanted to be able to do anything. I would put on Reign in Blood over and over to try to copy Tom Araya, how well he could sing, and fast. I think we’ve done that in Cannibal since then, but that album changed a lot for me. And it’s one of the greatest metal records ever.
Altars of Madness / Slowly We Rot / Deicide
I think those three records, especially, just were all individual. Even the first Cannibal Corpse record, Eaten Back to Life, which is on that ’89, ’90, ’92 era. Those few albums all came out and those are all individual bands; Cannibal Corpse does not sound anything like Deicide who don’t sound anything like Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel or Deicide or Obituary.
Altars of Madness, Deicide and Slowly We Rot, for me, vocally, that just changed the game for me, too. I know it’s three records but I would lump that early ’90s death metal, especially those three bands, I spent hours and hours trying to sound like Dave Vincent and Glen Benton and John Tardy. Hours just trying to emulate what they were doing and each one did something totally different than the other. I think if you listen to my voice, you would think I listen to Glen Benton and John Tardy and even Dave Vincent. My voice is closer to their style than it is to Chuck’s, except for the high stuff.