Every Record I Own - Day 209: Cannibal Corpse Red Before Black
When my dad got stationed in Oahu back in ‘82, the only person he knew on the island was his childhood friend from Des Moines, Iowa. For the next ten years, every holiday and nearly every weekend involved a trip out to Aikahi to visit the Masons. Their son Matt and I were close friends throughout grade school years, but we began to drift apart in our teenage years. Part of that divide might have been because of our music. Matt was really into the big death metal bands of the time—Deicide, Morbid Angel, and, above all, Cannibal Corpse—while I really liked punk, and there was a significant cultural gap between those two scenes back at the beginning of the ‘90s. But part of our drifting apart also stemmed from his increasingly sullen and angry behavior. We found a little common ground—we both started playing bass, he liked Fugazi, and I went with him to see Pantera on the Vulgar Display of Power tour. But by the time I moved to Washington in August of ‘92, it felt like we weren’t really friends anymore.
I slowly began to garner an appreciation for Matt’s music during my high school years in Tacoma, though Cannibal Corpse remained a little too over-the-top and borderline goofy for my tastes. I didn’t keep in touch with Matt, but I heard through my parents that he had become increasingly adversarial, dabbled in drugs, and gotten in a few tangles with the police. The last time I saw him was on a visit to Hawaii during my last summer break of high school when I met up with him in the parking lot of the Aikahi Safeway. He had parked a car there a few weeks ago but couldn’t get it to start back up. It was covered in impound stickers. He had bought it for $50 without telling his parents and was pretty sure it had been stolen, but his name was on the title and he didn’t know how to get rid of it. He was worried he was going to jail for grand theft auto. I didn’t have any advice, and it quickly became apparent that we didn’t have much else to talk about, so I left.
When I think about death metal, I think about Matt. He was listening to all the classics as they came out, and even though I wasn’t a fan at the time, I feel fortunate that he exposed me to all of those bands while they were in their ascendency. After the summer of the stolen car, I went off to college and Matt joined the Navy. Last I’d heard, he had made amends with his parents, gotten married, had a kid, and bought a nice house. At the age of 40, I stumbled across Cannibal Corpse’s “Scourge of Iron” randomly online and became totally intrigued by their recent catalog. Red Before Black, along with Morbid Angel’s Kingdoms Disdained, has become my current go-to album at the gym. And even though it sounds like Matt has become a wholesome and responsible adult, I hope he sneaks in the occasional pass of the new Cannibal Corpse on his daily commute.