When someone says the words “death metal”, you’ll be hard pressed to find a band that is not so commonly associated with the term as Cannibal Corpse is. The reigning champions of death metal have been doing this for nearly 3 decades and, if this album is anything to go by, they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Kicking off the album, “Only One Will Die” starts things off in classic Corpse style with an all-out breakneck speed flurry of notes. This time however, unlike “The Time To Kill Is Now”, they’ve decided to chuck more mid-paced groove riffs in to sweeten the deal. Don’t be fooled however, this track will still eviscerate you and then make a soup from your remains. The title track of the album keeps things similar though decides to drop the tempo slightly and adopts more of a style reminiscent of the mid section of “A Skeletal Domain”. With Corpsegrinder bellowing out “Red Before Black” and the superb riffing of Pat and Rob, this is a track that will get heads banging and pits going.
Now onto the first single of the album, “Code of the Slashers”. If ever there was a song that mixed slow pummelling riffs and technical flurries, then this is the one. The guitar solos in this song in particular border on the insanity scale; Pat’s in particular reminiscent of a human screaming whilst having their flesh ripped off. Which leads nicely into the next track, “Shedding My Human Skin”. Taking influence from tracks such as “Disfigured” from Vile with the equally impressive guitar solos that dominate later albums such as The Wretched Spawn, like the previous track it mixes both the bands more technical side and also their ability to write riffs that will linger in your skull for days.
“Remaimed” is one of those songs that shows it means business within the first few seconds. With an octave dropping opening riff before the chaos begins, the track can be considered one of the more ‘haunting’ tracks on the album. It’s kind of similar to how “Followed Home Then Killed” was on Torture. Dark, haunting and the sort of song you wouldn’t play to your parents. “Firestorm Vengeance” adopts a slightly more mid-paced style reminiscent to “Sarcophagic Frenzy” with it’s groove before the speed once again returns. Whilst the chorus could be considered a little simple with corpsegrinder merely screaming the name of the track, the dissonant guitar riffs underneath more than make up for it.
Possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album, “Heads Shovelled Off” instantly makes it’s point known with it’s breakneck speed right from the word go. From the blast beats to the cries of ‘Heads Shovelled Off’, the track is the perfect mix of bulldozing death metal and infectious grooves that get stuck in your head. “Corpus Delicti” keeps the intensity of the previous track going but instead opts for a slightly more technical vibe rather than grabbing you by the throat and instilling a memorable line into you.
Second Opinion (Mosh) It’s Cannibal Corpse, so you should know what to expect. While Red Before Black is no huge step in style for the band – it’s a very obvious successor to the superb A Skeletal Domain – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Corpse know what they do and they do it well. Stray too far from formula and you end up with a Morbid Angel-esque Illud Divinum Insanus shitstorm. Don’t stray and people say you’re formulaic.
Well, Coke is formulaic. They tried changing that once and it didn’t work. Cannibal Corpse have their own secret recipe of herbs, spices, foetid juices and giblets… and this is a great sample. As good as they ever were.
The opening of “Scavenger Consuming Death” is where we get to hear the monstrosity that is Alex’s bass guitar. The way he can have such a clean tone at such a low tuning is incredible and a true testament to both him and Rutan’s excellent mixing. “In The Midst of Ruin”, “Destroyed Without a Trace” and “Hideous Ichor” follow on from “Scavenger…” by keeping the same pattern of memorable song followed by technical song. It’s a formula that might seem a little boring, yet each song can more than stand on it’s own and they all have their own little things that implant themselves in your mind.
It’s taken me a lot longer than normal to write this review and that’s partly because I’ve found it very hard to describe the songs. Part of the reason is mainly because there’s not a lot to actually describe. At its heart, it is pure meat-and-potatoes death metal with not a lot of straying outside of the confines of the genre. I’m not saying for one bit that I expected the band to change things up entirely but everything seems a little too ‘samey’ and there’s a lot of “Oh I’ve heard that style before”.
Yet, whilst their music might not be everyone’s cup of tea or feature additional instruments such as synths and orchestra’s, there is no denying that the kings of death metal have crafted an excellent album. So, in true Corpsegrinder fashion, get the record on and “bang your f’ng head”.
Standout Tracks: “Code of the Slashers”, “Remaimed”, “Heads Shovelled Off”, “Scavenger Consuming Death”
Red Before Black is out on November 3rd.