Cannibal Corpse. Cannibal f**kin’ Corpse! About as close as you’re going to get to a household name in the Death Metal scene and the one band countless others have attempted to imitate, yet so very few have ever managed to get even remotely close to in terms of power and popularity. These guys tour relentlessly, and yet they still manage to draw in huge crowds night, after night.
There is good reason for this of course. People know what to expect and they know exactly what they are going to get. So imagine the shock when this promo lands on the proverbial doormat, and it turns out they’ve thrown one hell of a curve ball and gone all “prog” on us!!
I’m joking of course! This, ladies and gentlemen, is Cannibal Corpse’s 13th lesson (not including Live releases or EPs) in pure and graphic brutality, and it simply doesn’t disappoint.
Some would argue that the band had been treading some water with their last few releases – there was nothing wrong with them of per se but they didnt mange to capture the imagination like 2006’s “Kill” did for many listeners and so there was a touch of genuine excitement with how the band could reel us back in once again.
One change for “A Skeletal Domain” sees sometime producer Erik Rutan replaced in favour of Mark Lewis who has worked on recent releases for DevilDriver, Whitechapel, Carnifex and Deicide and is clearly no stranger to the more heavier side of the musical spectrum, and dare i say, its worked wonders in helping refresh Cannibal Corpse’s signature sound. Everything on the album is balanced and allows each composite part to shine through just at the right moment and yet Its a huge sounding album packed full of dense layers and punchy tone – It’ll certainly give your speakers a hell of a work out!
And so to the music on offer… We start with the wonderfully named “High Velocity Impact Spatter” and it’s eerie Texas-Chainsaw-esque-feedback-noise-intro and then BOOM! Drums. Riffs. Growls. Bass. All at once! Once you’ve re-attuned your senses, there is plenty to get to grips with in the 4 minutes, as it offers a few tech-metal elements overlaid to blast-beats and Cannibal Corpse’s perfect sense of breakdown timing.
“Sadistic Embodiment” and “Kill or Become” will feel a little more familiar and have a strong “Gallery of Suicide” era vibe about them – certainly no bad thing – and the latter track even has something that could be considered as a singable chorus! I can just hear the gathered masses hollering it now: “FIRE UP THE CHAINSAW!!!” If this doesn’t end up on the back of a suitably graphic t-shirt, i’ll be very disappointed!
The title track is pure rampaging savagery and only lets up 3 quarters of the way through with a brief doom-tinged atmosphere, before a classic lightning fast Cannibal Corpse leads shreds everything within its audible grasp. “Headlong into Carnage” brings some wonderfully down-tuned tremolo picked riffing and Paul Mazurkiewicz’s drumming is about as bludgeoning a performance as you’re going to hear this year. Absolutely crystal clear and f**kin relentless.
Of course, guitarists Pat O’Brien, Rob Barrett and bass-master-extrodinare Alex Webster aren’t to be outdone on the album either and each of them must have wrung the very life out of their fret boards during recording, as riff after riff scream by at a frightening pace – twisting, writhing, squirming, pounding and tearing their way through out the album.
And of course, there is no denying the effort and passion that George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher puts in to all his performances, but here on “A Skeletal Domain”, its nothing short of pure brutality – when this guy roars, you’re going to know about it!
“Funeral Cremation” sees the band slow things down a touch and bring in flourishes of staccato timings. It has an almost black metal feel about the main riff and adds to the overall variety this new release has to offer, and what is further explored by “Icepick Lobotomy” which successfully merges doomy sections with furious thrash-attacks – a marriage that on paper, probably shouldn’t work, but it most certainly does.
This far into what can only be described as an extensive career, and with such a massive back-catalog to refer too, it must be a small nightmare for the band to keep things fresh and relative, and yet on this outing, they’ve outdone themselves. For me, this is up there with the gloomy majesty of “Gallery of Suicide” and the massively underrated “Wretched Spawn” and is bound to become a firm fan favourite.
Essential Death Metal listening.