“I had to punish my vocals constantly”. How George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher perfected the death growl

Cannibal Corpse, circa 2000
(Image credit: Naki/Redferns/Getty Images)

As the man responsible for the guttural vocals at the centre of Cannibal Corpse’s musical extremism, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher knows a thing or two about the art of delivering a death growl. The Baltimore native is one of the death metal world’s most recognisable singers but, in an interview with Metal Hammer last year, he said that perfecting that brutal vocal delivery takes time. “Nobody can pick up a mic and expect to be immediately amazing – it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “Especially in death metal, I had to punish my vocals constantly.”

Fisher hadn’t even turned 18 when his first band Corpsegrinder started in 1988, but even in those early days people would come up to him to compliment his remarkable singing technique. “We were a shitty little band from Baltimore, Maryland doing Cro-Mags and Sacrifice covers,” he recalled. “But I knew I always wanted more – more songs, faster songs; all of it.” Their first gig was opening for Exmortis and Deceased, he remembers. “I was so nervous before I got up i couldn't even speak. But afterwards the Exmortis drummer Aantar [Lee Coates], who has since played with Diabolic, came up and was like ‘dude, your voice is amazing!’”

Despite being a master in his field, though, Fisher isn’t averse to trying out other styles in future, revealing that some of the fantasy-tinged songs on last year’s solo effort Corpsegrinder had him wondering about making music inspired by metal titans Iron Maiden. “Maybe one day I’ll do a record based on World Of Warcraft,” he said. “I’ve always thought if you’re singing about epic historical things it should have a classic heavy metal voice like Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford or even King Diamond.” His larynx will be so relieved…

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer for The Guardian, Variety and Classic Rock, and co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former editors of Q magazine Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. Niall has written for NME, X-Ray Magazine and XFM Online and interviewed some of music’s biggest stars, including Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, St Vincent, The 1975, Depeche Mode, Radiohead and many more.