You probably know Pete Steele as the lead singer of everyone's favorite goth metal band Type O Negative. You may also know him from his popular centerfold spread in the August 1995 issue of Playgirl. But his greatest contribution to society is the criminally underappreciated post-apocalyptic proto-thrash outfit Carnivore. Formed back in 1983 by then New York Parks Department employee "Lord Petrus Steele" along with drummer Louie Beateaux and guitarist Keith Alexander. Musically, Carnivore was like if Venom was from Brooklyn and obsessed with Mad Max instead of Satan. Sloppy, loud, fast, and heavy. Carnivore's music is a muscular speed metal all their own. From the picture above it's clear their biggest fashion influences were Manowar and the Legion of Doom. Known for drenching their audiences with buckets of animal blood, entrails, and assorted body parts, Carnivore was years ahead of shitty black metal bands like Mayhem and Gorgoroth who later stole their idea.
Simple, yet effective cover art
Carnivore's self-titled debut album is probably the manliest, most macho metal record ever made (sorry, Manowar). If you don't have a penis, you probably won't "get" this record, but that's okay. It's pure testosterone, with a healthy dose of sarcasm and cynicism. The album's lyrical concept revolves around life after a thermonuclear war. Roving gangs of neo-barbarians rule the streets where rape, murder, and cannibalism are accepted forms of self-expression. It's the soundtrack to the greatest 80s action movie that was never made. The album kicks off with "Predator," a song about the people living in the subways beneath the ruined city coming out and being eaten by Carnivore. "I sense that living human beings dwell below my feet/An important source of protein/You are what you eat!" Next up is the band's theme song and it contains all of Carnivore's favorite themes--sex, violence, and cannibalism. "Drool dripping out/My tongue hanging south/Saliva flowing free/My eyes full of lust/My balls gonna bust/Give yourself to me/Thirst I can't quench/C'mere you wench/There's something that I need." "Male Supremacy" is an epic worthy of its title that's sure to get any feminist's blood boiling with its hilarious shouted chorus of "MALE SUPREMACY!" Memorable lines include "Between my legs I've got what it takes to be called a man/Fighting/Feasting/Fucking all I can." As if the song weren't already over-the-top enough it features an extended acoustic breakdown where Steele romantically croons the sort of lines he'd later make a living from with Type O Negative. Alternating between a slow stomp and fast chugging, "Armageddon" is one of the catchiest songs on the album. Never before has the end of the world sounded this good.
Coincidentally enough, side two of Carnivore starts off with the song "Legion of Doom" about a biker gang who's motto is "Live your life by your will/Learn to be an animal/By the light of the moon beware the legion of doom!" "God is Dead," featuring a killer cowbell-heavy chorus, is about God committing suicide because he's so depressed by what mankind has become. "You gang raped mother nature/I love a virgins cry/Blood poured from the earth/She suffered and she died/Rusty scissors still in hand you castrated father time/Feed his balls to the hounds that drink his cum like wine." "Thermonuclear Warrior" is one of the most raging, balls out tracks on the album advocating eugenics via homicide. The album closes with the ten minute epic to end all epics "World Wars III and IV." Riffs, dive-bombs, solos, explosions, and drum solos for days. You couldn't ask for a more fitting end to one of the greatest metal albums ever made.
Carnivore's second and final album, Retaliation, is also worth seeking out. The musicianship is tighter, the production is cleaner, and there's more of a hardcore/crossover vibe, but it's still very much a metal record. By this point they'd stopped wearing costumes and the lyrics are slightly more "serious," but still just as hilarious. The album starts off with the sound of someone puking their brains out and then launches into the scathing social commentary of "Angry Neurotic Catholics" followed by the anthemic "Suck My Dick." The controversial nature of this album mostly stems from the ridiculously over-the-top lyrics to "Race War." Lines like "Don't call me your brother 'cause I ain't your fuckin' brother/We fell from different cunts and your skin's an ugly color" tend to get people all worked up. Personally, I think it's tongue-in-cheek. How can anyone actually take what these guys sing about seriously after looking at these photos? Some people have no sense of humor.
"Inner Conflict" is an epic suicide lament with extremely descriptive lyrics like "Large two inches maggots decorate my vomit/Infected eyes oozing puss/Acknowledge the stench of human excrement/Swamps of mucus prevalent/Every hole in my body drips blood." "Jesus Hitler" is the story of a mysterious figure born of a nun raped by a Nazi at the end of World War II. Jesus Hitler or Aldolf Christ? Torn between good and evil, has he come to save the Jews or destroy them? Brilliant Stuff. "Technophobia" is filled with more pro-technology, anti-religion rhetoric like "You worship a dead man hung with nails/Only a fool would die for the sins of humanity/On your knees before electronics." This is followed by a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" that rivals the original. "USA for USA" is like when Agnostic Front makes the crowd say the Pledge of Allegiance before playing "Liberty and Justice" on Live at CBGB, but better. "All the bullshit countries who think they'll beat the giant/World peace is upheaval/We'll nuke'em to the stoneage/Send the message clear/'Ya don't fuck with the eagle." If I were an Army general in Iraq, this is what I'd want my troops listening to! Retaliation closes with the Clockwork Orange inspired "Sex and Violence." I leave you with its timeless lyrics...
Monkey wrench in my hand
In my groin a swollen gland
Tonight perform brain surgery
Or some gynecology
Clockwork orange fast be comming
Rampant sreets gangs overrunning
After darkness waging war
What do they keep living for?
Sex and violence
I love to hear you scream in vain
Splattered blood and semen stains
Rape and murder lesson learned
Meeting of my pain and sperm
Prey upon the old and helpless
Reconditioning is useless
Ultraviolent offsprings of gore
What do they keep living for?
Sex and violence
If you can't eat it or fuck it
Then kill it
Bleed for me