This 2017 offering, their 14th studio record, is everything one would expect (and then some) from these titans of Death Metal. While there is a certain consistency to Cannibal Corpse, namely, brutality – both musically and lyrically – a shift occurred when vocalist Chris Barnes left and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher joined (1995). Another shift was the return of guitarist Rob Barrett after an eight year absence (2005); together with Pat O’Brien (1997 – present), the guitar-work became markedly distinct on 2006’s, “Kill,” and every album thereafter. The combination of these two shifts and the steadfast consistency of basest Alex Webster (1988 – present) and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz (1988 – present) make the perfect cocktail of the modern Cannibal Corpse sound.
“Red Before Black” is an excellent offering in the evolution (yes, evolution) of the band’s sound and style since that fateful “Kill” album. In 2009 Corpse released, what I think is their pinnacle record, “Evisceration Plague.” Since then, “Torture” (2012), and “A Skeletal Domain” (2014) has, in more ways than one, lead us to this year’s album. Corpsegrinder, as usual, grinds many corpses; viciously on blast, though interestingly without any trademark screams. It is in the music, itself, that we find some subtle surprises. While Corpse has never been shy when it comes to guitar solos, they come hard, fast, and at a feverish pace on this record. The tempo changes, though not strange imbedded in a Cannibal Corpse track, come almost as equally frenzied, here. Alex keeps us on pace, as usual, while Paul is all over the place with blindingly fast double base and blast beats, which transition suddenly into breakneck grooves, and back.
The opening track (“Only One Will Die”), the title track (“Red Before Black”), “Shedding My Human Skin,” “Heads Shoveled Off,” and “Destroyed Without A Trace” are your classic brutally Cannibal Corpse tracks. “Code of the Slashers” is reminiscent of the tracks “Evisceration Plague” and “Scourge of Iron,” though with a pulverizing tempo change before returning to the groove of the opening scene. “Remaimed,” “Firestorm Vengeance,” “Corpus Delicti,” “Scavenger Consuming Death,” and “In The Midst of Ruin” are the meat of this album. Here you will find all of the subtle surprises evident in the evolution of Cannibal Corpse. While being very much Corpse-esque, there is some new material, here, that is quite impressive. And finally, the last track is like a bonus (only it’s not a bonus track). “Hideous Ichor” reminds me of the track “A Skeletal Domain.” It is a brilliant song, brilliantly placed to make the listener want to start the cycle over again. This song makes me say, “THIS is why I love Death Metal!”
Favorite Songs: Code of the Slashers; Remaimed; Hideous Ichor
Review Contributed by Tattoo