Cannibal Corpse is a death metal band. They are probably considered to be the band by which all death metal should be graded. They play brutal shit. They are heavy as fuck. They continually put out brutal death metal album after brutal death metal album and each time they improve on their style just a little bit. I say “just a little bit” because they are not stepping outside of their boundaries or reinventing their sound. Cannibal Corpse does brutal fucking death metal, that’s all they do, and they do it like masters.
For years Cannibal Corpse has been one of the top death metal bands in the genre. They have been at it since 1988 and their sound has evolved over time. Their first album, ‘Eaten Back to Life,’ featured a young Chris Barnes and was raw with almost a hardcore punk sound to it. Since then, Cannibal Corpse has metamorphized into a sound that is bludgeoning and violent to the point of sheer emotionless brutality and psychopathy. This is their charm – violent, brutal shit.
Over the course of the band’s existence, Cannibal Corpse has managed to stay relevant and respected within the metal community even after swapping out a prominent lead singer (Chris Barnes) and guitarist (Jack Owen). George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher takes over as lead throat in 1995 and Robb Barrett replaces Jack Owen in 2005 on rhythm guitar. With significant members such as these replaced, weaker bands would fold or at least become shadows of their once former selves. Cannibal Corpse, on the other hand, keeps getting better.
To date, Cannibal Corpse has put out 14 studio albums. Not every album is a masterpiece, but with each release the band learns something and evolves. Subsequently each following release is heavier, more brutal, and more precise. The production quality is ramped up a notch each time entering the studio and the music overall matures a few degrees.
‘Red Before Black‘ is no exception to this rule. First off, the production quality is flawless for this musical style. The guitars are punchy, the drums are crisp, and the bass is clearly audible in the mix.
Vocally, Fisher does what he does. I’ve honestly never been a huge fan of his vocals since Barnes exited the band. However, I’ve since come to accept that this is what Cannibal Corpse is now and can appreciate what George brings to the mix. That being said, I think this is some of Fisher’s best work with the band. He sounds like a singer in his groove – He’s definitely in his element here. And who wouldn’t be after these many albums in?
Song after song will sound slightly varying from the song before. There’s not much diversity here. But at the end of the day, who the fuck listens to Cannibal Corpse looking for diversity? If you want brutal, sick shit, well then here it is.
Highlights include “Corpus Delicti” which, when the vocals come in, sounds like a sledgehammer smashing someone’s worthless fucking skull into pieces. The song then transitions a few times after the first verse and then circles its way back around again.
Another highlight is “Scavenger Consuming Death.” Even the bassline to this song is fucking metal. Alex Webster is a death metal master, responsible for writing the majority of Cannibal Corpse material, but with this song allowing significant moments for the bass to sing out clearly, he actually has a chance to really showcase his skillful bass-playing abilities – and he delivers. The breakdown during the three-quarter mark, with its bended-note, tremolo picked rhythm riff is sheer brutality and one of the best moments of the album.
Overall, this is a solid release for Cannibal Corpse and another benchmark in the genre of brutal death metal. The songs are thrashy, brutal, and extremely heavy. Melody is scarce and virtually non-existent as songs rely primarily on monotone guttural vocals, bludgeoning riffing, and chaotic leads. For death metal fans, it’s extremely mosh-worthy.
As a formula, it’s nothing new but this time around it’s slightly better than before. If brutal music is your thing, then this is your shit.