Cannibal Corpse’s Erik Rutan chugs, shreds and sweeps with violent aggression in this grinding Condemnation Contagion playthrough

If you’re in the market for brutal death-metal riffing, Cannibal Corpse have been your one-stop shop for more than a quarter-century. 

The death-metal pioneers have stood at the forefront of the scene since its early ‘90s explosion, and more than three decades into their career show no signs of letting up on either the gore or the guitars, as exemplified by their newest – and 15th – studio album, Violence Unimagined.

The new record also sees the Corpse injecting fresh blood into their sound with the addition of guitarist Erik Rutan, a death-metal legend in his own right as the leader of Hate Eternal, a fill-in shredder for the likes of Morbid Angel and an in-demand producer (he’s helmed five CC records, including the new Violence Unimagined).

For a taste of the gory results, witness Rutan’s playthrough of the Violence Unimagined track Condemnation Contagion. Armed with his BC Rich USA Ironbird – with a Gibson Dirty Fingers humbucker at the bridge and Bill Lawrence L-500 at the neck – Rutan runs into a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier hooked up to a Marshall cabinet loaded with Celestion Greenback speakers and juiced with a Maxon ST9 Pro+. 

Rutan's varied rhythm approach on the song combines grinding, power chord-heavy chugs punctuated by pinging pinch harmonics and full-on blastbeat-fueled tremolo-picked lines. His leads, meanwhile, alternate between melodic octave phrases and blazing harmonic-minor-tinged, sweep-picking-fueled shreds. The outcome is a gruesome addition to Cannibal Corpse’s impressive legacy of brutality.

“This was the last song I completed writing for our new album Violence Unimagined," Rutan tells Guitar World. ”I was writing it as COVID-19 was becoming a full-on pandemic. Heavy and dark in its origins, it came out to be a song like nothing I have ever written before.

”Since the song has a lot of two guitar-part harmonies and counterpoint, for this video I chose to feature the parts that stick out to me the most during the song at specific moments. A majority of the song is ferociously down-picked interweaving with other subtle elements. The solo is one of my personal favorites on the album. It has a nice feel and flow to it.”

Violence Unimagined is out on April 16, and available to preorder now via Metal Blade Records.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.