There aren’t many fans of zombies working in the Russian legal system if the Nov. 28 decision of the Oktyabrsky District Court of Ufa is any indication. Judges agreed with the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bashkortostan last Friday, ruling that that translation of Cannibal Corpse’s lyrics and artwork be banned from distribution in Russia due to violent content. The dutiful D.A. had filed the suit in response to complaints from residents of the eastern European city, stating that the heavy metal band’s lyrics could “damage the mental health of children because they contain descriptions of violence, the physical and mental abuse of people and animals, murder and suicide – all accompanied by illustrations.”
It’s true that some Russians are less than enamored with all things American. But with “uplifting” Corpse offerings like “Butchered at Birth,” “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Evisceration Plague,” it’s hard to argue with the objections. And it’s not the first time that Cannibal Corpse has raised a stink in Russia. Earlier this year, police shut down the band’s Nizhny gig in the middle of their set, followed by cancelled shows in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ufa.
What is surprising is that the music itself wasn’t included in the ban. Of course, it’s doubtful that there’s a person on the earth – Russian or otherwise – that really understands the death metal rockers anyway when they’re banging heads with masterful gems like this one from “A Skull Full of Maggots.” “Decay sets in, bones begin to crack / Thrown six feet down left to rot / Brains oozing black down the side of your broken neck.”
Cannibal Corpse’s bassist Alex Webster offered some gruesome insights into the band’s songwriting in a July 2014 interview with Metal Insider. “If the song is about something dark or about something really violent, that subject is fair game in a way for us. We don’t really have a lot of limits…I have a song about a guy who beats the hell out of some guy who tried attacking him and smashes his head open on the pavement. It’s a little different for us, but brains still end up all over the sidewalk.”
The band’s dark themes have gotten them into to hot water with other countries prior to the Russian ruling. Australia banned the sale of Cannibal Corpse audio recordings from 1996 to 2006, when they allowed them to be sold to those over 18 years of age. Germany banned the band’s first three albums from being sold or displayed until June 2006. And though he later admitted that he’d never actually listened to any of their music, former U.S. Senator Bob Dole declared in 1995 that Cannibal Corpse’s work “undermined the character of the [American] nation.”
Just try to wrap your smashed head around that…