Cannibal Corpse have recently announced that famed death metal guitarist and producer Erik Rutan will fill in for recently-arrested Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O'Brien for two upcoming tours: the Decibel Magazine Tour, which Cannibal Corpse will co-headline with Morbid Angel, and the US leg of Slayer's farewell tour.
Rutan is almost uniquely qualified to fill in for O'Brien, who is one of the most talented death metal guitarists on the planet. Rutan is himself an amazing death metal guitarist, having played in Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal (current); he got his start in New Jersey's Ripping Corpse at the dawn of the death metal genre in the late 80's, so he has been playing death metal guitar since the beginning. Rutan is also a close friend of the band, and has produced four of their albums (Kill, Evisceration Plague, Torture, and Red Before Black), so he is more than passingly familiar with their material.
Rutan told Metal Insider that he's been busting his ass getting up to speed since finding out that his buddies in Cannibal Corpse needed him to step in. "I've been playing guitar eight hours a day and working with the guys. Everything's going great actually. I just learned the last song of the set, which I've learned 15 songs in three or four weeks, so I've really been working my ass off to make sure that, one, I know the songs... I wake up. I work on Cannibal Corpse songs. I go to bed thinking about Cannibal Corpse songs. That's all I've been doing for the last four weeks. But I'm feeling good," Rutan said.
"On my friend Pat, I will be thinking positive thoughts for him as well. It's a very unique situation for me. I'm excited, motivated, honored and concerned. There's a lot of emotion involved in this."
Not much more detail has been released about the circumstances leading up to the bizarre incidents that ended with O'Brien's December arrest. Cannibal Corpse have released a supportive public statement, and Deana Mazurkiewicz, wife of Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, has launched a crowdfunding effort on mightycause.com to support O'Brien, noting that he lost everything he owned in the fire.
In reading numerous articles about the events that led to O'Brien's arrest, I have seen a few references to family members and close friends, none of whom were cited by name, stating that O'Brien had made uncharacteristic statements to them about aliens and "the rapture" in the weeks leading up to his arrest, which would seem to indicate that O'Brien was suffering from a mental health crisis rather than drug-induced hallucinations on the night of his arrest.
Regardless of which it was, Cannibal Corpse fans everywhere (myself included) are glad that he is getting help, and that longtime Cannibal ally Erik Rutan is stepping in to ensure that the show goes on.
Erik Rutan photo credit: Alex Morgan Imaging