October is the month of Halloween, so naturally, October is the month of horror movies, so naturally naturally, October is the month of Cannibal Corpse. They are forever the horror movie metal band to end all horror movie metal bands, and their single-minded focus on murder and gore is nothing short of admirable. Should we not all be so dedicated?
In their history they’ve presented a whooooooooole lotta ways to dismember, maim, crush, murder, and liquefy humans (among other less savory activities), but no body part has seemed to earn the ire of The Corpse quite like the ol’ human noggin. Over the years Chris Barnes and George Fisher examined a whole variety of ways to not just destroy the head, but to appreciate its removal or destruction. It’s a dedicated approach, to be sure, and one that deserves the full recognition of both the medical and anthropological communities.
To assist in this important work, Last Rites presents a Definitive Ranking of Cannibal Corpse Hating Heads. It’ll get splattery, slippery, and if we’re lucky, even a little slurpy.
15. ROTTING HEAD[Eaten Back to Life, 1990]
Okay cool, the head is rotting. But was it smashed or bludgeoned on its way to rotting? Was it even removed from the corpse? Unclear, and really, all heads eventually rot, making this one rotting head pretty unspecial in the grand scheme of all rotting heads. We can and will do much better.
14. HEADLESS[Gallery of Suicide, 1998]
Here, the head is at least removed from the neck and torso. It’s a start, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Who removed this head? Was it done out of spite, or are we merely in the realm of autopsies or medical research? Simply too many unknowns to rank this one higher.
13. A SKULL FULL OF MAGGOTS[Eaten Back to Life, 1990]
I know what you’re thinking: “A Skull Full of Maggots” is not much different from a regular old “Rotting Head.” This is true in pure concept, but by focusing on how the skull is full of maggots, we’re truly getting into the nitty gritty of humans as mere organic matter. The human, the skull, the head is being retaken by nature, and the maggots are doing their part to help this process along. All heads are merely future dirt, after all.
12. BEHEADED AND BURNING[Evisceration Plague, 2009]
Now we’re cooking! Smell that finely sauteed human cheek, folks! There’s a real “Nuke the site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure” vibe going on here. They’re beheading… and burning. Are they only burning the headless body, or the head too? I think we can assume that everything is getting burnt, and likely properly seasoned before being thrown on the fire. Hell, a guy can hope that the head ends up being part of the table centerpiece of this human flesh feast. Tuck in!
11. SCATTERED REMAINS, SPLATTERED BRAINS[Eaten Back to Life, 1990]
Really getting into the real (nyuk) meat of the matter now. Body parts and gourd gore all over the place, likely in some sick freak’s attempt to make some Jackson Pollock art out of viscera and bone. Plus, you don’t just arrive at “Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains” through normal everyday death and head trauma. Something crazy, possibly explosive happened here, and the results are nothing if not colorful. Also messy. Very messy.
10. BRAIN REMOVAL DEVICE[Kill, 2006]
What exactly is a brain removal device? Is it merely a standard bonesaw and pair of hands wearing latex gloves? Is it a drill that makes a small hole so that the brain can be sucked out of the cranium one tiny dollop of gray matter at a time? Is it some combination of the two or something outside of our realm of imagination? Might it just be a Louisville Slugger? These questions, friends, are important ones. One thing is for sure, you’ve got to go through the skull to get to the brain, so no matter the device, something is getting cracked.
9. SANDED FACELESS[Gore Obsessed, 2002]
Just a spectacular concept. Firstly, this is one of several songs in which Corpse shows how helpful your hardware store can be when acquiring items for cranial carnage. But here they’re working on a budget. Sure you could go all out and get that shiny new Black and Decker belt sander, but sometimes all it takes is a coarse grain and some elbow grease. “Sanded Faceless” would be ranked higher if not for one possibility: maybe the victim needed to go into witness protection. It begs contemplation.
8. ICEPICK LOBOTOMY[A Skeletal Domain, 2014]
A lobotomy is a precise operation with a very specific goal in mind, so even one done crudely with an icepick is not likely to result in a mountain of brain parts in the living room. With that in (chuckle) mind, the placement of “Icepick Lobotomy” in the middle of the list comes down to two big points. First, it focuses on the brain, which is why heads are important to begin with, and second, a lobotomized person left unsupervised is pretty likely to find themselves in some dangerous situations, leading to more possible skull savagery. Sure, it’s conjecture, but conjecture is an important part of any analysis. And do we really think someone handing out icepick lobotomies is really going to leave a caretaker with their victims?
7. HACKSAW DECAPITATION[Bloodthirst, 1999]
“Hacksaw Decapitation” and “Heads Shoveled Off” are more tunes falling under the category of damaging or removing heads using items available at your handy local Home Depot. The reason this tune ranks slightly lower is that a hacksaw is a bit more of a precise tool designed for cutting through something, even if that something is a nice layer of neck muscle and spine. It’s bound to get messy, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a fairly clean cut and not a fully mauled head. Adequate decapitation, sure, but we’d like a little more room for error, and thus, splatter.
6. HEADS SHOVELED OFF[Red Before Black, 2017]
In contrast to the hacksaw, the shovel is not an instrument of precision meant for cutting through something of cylindrical shape. The wielder is likely to either miss the neck, coming into other body parts such as the shoulder or (!!!) head, or require repeated swings to really shovel that head off. The possibility for melon mangling here is super high. Plus, make it a group activity and afterwards play a game of human head jai alai!
5. FORCE FED BROKEN GLASS[The Bleeding, 1994]
Another convenient hardware store pickup, but not for the weapon itself. To cram a bunch of glass down some unwitting victim’s pie hole, you’re really going to want some heavy duty gloves. Head to Lowe’s, but don’t spend a ton of thick panes of glass only to break them down for this activity. Merely call up Mainway Enterprises for a Bag of Glass, then get to shredding, choking, stabbing, and slicing to your heart’s content? More like Bag of Gag Reflex amirite? Oof.
4. SKEWERED FROM EAR TO EYE[Evisceration Plague, 2009]
It’s a little known secret that Corpsegrinder and the boys are really into the culinary arts. Alex Webster himself hosts an annual Bassbecue at his place, and what better way to honor both grilling and the gorified arts than through a good head roast? Skewering from ear to eye isn’t just thorough in its head hate (it targets vision and hearing), but it really works to ensure that the heads won’t slip off of the skewers during cooking. It’s a slow roast, wouldn’t want to lose any noggin nosh to the coals, now would we?
3. SEVERED HEAD STONING[The Wretched Spawn, 2004]
Okay, there’s an obvious caveat here: we don’t know if Corpse themselves removed the heads. But using them as stoning devices? That implies an intense level of hatred, not to mention the fact that stonings were public events, with each member of the public bringing their own perfect rock to hurl at the victim. Imagine if this is a decent sized town… there might be 50, even 100 people showing up with meticulously chosen heads to launch. And where are they getting all these heads? That’s a mystery for another day.
2. HAMMER SMASHED FACE[Tomb of the Mutilated, 1992]
Ah, yes, the classic. The Ace Ventura song. Probably the most recognizable gore metal song ever. But not Cannibal Corpse’s peak of crushing coconuts… not quite. “Hammer Smashed Face” has a ton going for it. The weapon of choice is, well, choice. A hammer is a blunt, weighty tool that can obviously do a lot of damage, and the beauty is that there are many types of hammers, from the classic claw, sledge, and ball-peen to the rock hammer and mallet. Hell, maybe the Dishonorable Brett Michael Kavanaugh got tired of listening to some hooker’s rants in his court and took the gavel to her face? Entirely within the realm of possibility. The only thing truly keeping this pillar of death metal history from being the peak is right there in the title: face. Face? Just the face?! Of course the head will take a ton of damage if a hammer is used to smash a face, but we’d prefer if the band kept their eye on the ball, is all.
1. HATCHET TO THE HEAD[Gore Obsessed, 2002]
And here we have it. This is just the purest ideal of dome destruction, folks. First of all, you have the perfect weapon. A hatchet is both sharp and blunt, with multiple faces/facets for any occasion, and it’s small enough to wield with rapid force. Second, “head” is right there in the title, and there is no confusion as to the intent. The hatchet is going to the head. It isn’t being used to remove it, it didn’t come into accidental contact with it, or even to cut it open during an autopsy. There is obvious intent. This is pure glorious head hate of the like not even Cannibal Corpse has been able to top in their career. A-one belfry bashing, really, only what gets all over the place will look a lot more like ketchup than steak sauce. Who’s hungry?
Happy Halloween, goremongers.