Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Need a mega review for a Monday? Well check out this monster detailed tale about the new Cannibal Corpse Album by Asa… we think he may like it!

Cannibal Corpse are a band that need little, if any, introduction by this point. However, in case you’re not too familiar with them, their history goes a little something like this: Formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York by Chris Barnes, Alex Webster, Paul Mazurkiewicz, Jack Owen and Bob Rusay. Rusay was dismissed from the band in 1993 after 3 albums, being replaced by Rob Barrett. In 1995, Chris Barnes was dismissed due to creative differences and was quickly replaced by George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher (much to the dismay of many fans, who still try to argue that Barnes is better). 1997, Barrett leaves the band, gets replaced by Pat O’Brien. 2004, Owen leaves the band and is replaced by Rob Barrett once again in 2005. Years go by with no trouble until 2018 when O’Brien is arrested for assault and battery charges, with Erik Rutan (most known for his work in Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel) taking up live duties, before becoming a full-time member in 2021. Did you get all that? No? Well don’t worry, all you need to know is that the band is currently made up of George Fisher (Vocals), Alex Webster (Bass), Paul Mazurkiewicz (Drums), Rob Barrett (Guitar) and Erik Rutan (also Guitar). As you can tell, they’ve had a storied career with line-up changes aplenty and more than their fair share of controversy. However, the only thing that matters is whether or not the recent troubles have hindered, or potentially even helped, the band. So, is 15th time the charm for these old school titans of brutality? Or have they finally lost their steam after all these years?

The band go straight for the jugular, launching into a ‘Murderous Rampage’. The riffs are fast and crushing, with hints of their Thrashy beginnings thrown in for good measure. Don’t worry if you think any of that technical groove the band have become known for is gone though, as halfway through we’re treated to fretwork that will have everyone doing their best windmill impression. There are also the classic Death Metal solos thrown in, shreddy, atonal and sounding like a madman trying to hack and slash at your tympanic membrane (the professional way to say eardrum, if you ever want to look like a weirdo). Corpsegrinder’s vocals sound more vicious than ever before, with his guttural bellows ferocious and his iconic high screams terrifying. ‘Necrogenic Resurrection’ continues the insane pace set by the opener and adds a slightly more progressive vibe to the proceedings, amplifying the insanity. A crushing, slow chugging riff will wreck necks, with another top tier shredfest following soon after. The band use plenty of dissonant harmonies to create a feeling of unease throughout, adding to the unhinged, chaotic nature of it all. ‘Inhumane Harvest’ was the first single released for the album, using slower paced fretwork to crush your cranium and adding moments of frantic, faster riffage to devastating effect. The whole song screams the best of both old and new Cannibal Corpse, using all the tools they’ve learned over the years to create an intense assault on the senses.

‘Condemnation Harvest’ is straight in with maddening, slow riff work that utilizes harmonics to tense results. The riffs remain on the slower side for the first half of the song, with some of the catchiest work the band have produced so far. The tempo abruptly shifts in the second half, switching between explosive bursts of manic speed and monolithic mid-paced grooves. The song ties itself together neatly at the end, reintroducing the first riff and using it to close things out. The fifth track, ‘Surround, Kill, Devour’, keeps the mid-paced grooves coming and has an energetic, catchy chorus that will become an instant earworm. As always, there’s the shifts in tempo that keeps you on your toes, with some impressive technical prowess thrown in, showcasing the impressive chops the band possess. ‘Ritual Annihilation’ blasts its way into existence, hitting hard and fast. Some dissonant leads keep things on edge, creating a sense of impending doom. It’s as if a freight train is close to veering off track but is doing just enough to keep itself under control. Until the halfway point anyway, when all hell breaks loose with sudden changes in tempo upping the ante a little further, finally sending things careening off course. ‘Follow The Blood’ brings us some Death/Thrash vibes during its intro section, before doing a complete U-turn on us and bringing filthy, sludge filled grooves to the forefront. Alex gets to show some of his impressive Bass chops, leading us into an increase in tempo and some delightfully mind-bending riffs. The lead work displayed on this song is my favourite from the whole album, showcasing some excellent use of darker melodies that compliment the riffs underneath perfectly. 

‘Bound And Burned’ brings us what we expect from Cannibal Corpse by this point, sounding like something that would fit well on Kill, Evisceration Plague or Torture, albeit with more shredding madness. It’s classic CC and will get multiple pits erupting throughout venues the world over. ‘Slowly Sawn’ gets you amped up for a mid-paced slugfest and delivers with crushing guitar work that adds just a touch of technical flair. The riffs twist and turn, never staying in the same place for too long. The song slowly meanders, pulverizing you with the sheer force of the riffs on display. The slower tempo works well here, after the intensity from the previous tracks reaching ridiculous heights. It’s still brutal and aggressive but done in a different way, something of a testament to their songwriting skills. The penultimate track, ‘Overtorture’, opts for the exact opposite approach, kicking things into high gear and staying there from the off. It’s a short, punishing experience that proves the band can do fast bruisers just as well as they can do slow burners. Alex’s Bass work gets another chance to shine here, feeling like a little throwback to some of the classic moments throughout their career. If unrelenting speed is your thing, then this song is one that will satisfy your cravings and then some. We’ve now reached the final track on the album, with ‘Cerements Of The Flayed’ bringing us the skull-crushing slow riffs that CC do so well. It’s dark, foreboding and sounds as though we know the world is about to end yet there is nothing none of us can do to prevent it. The bursts of speed add to the urgency of the song, creating an intense listening experience, with the solo section being the part where things start to crumble around us, and mass panic ensues. The slow ending with the Slayer-esque guitar wails is the moment we accept our fate and watch as everything we love perishes before the world finally turns to dust. It’s the right mix between feeling destructive and hopeless, encompassing everything that makes CC so great. A suitably morbid and savage ending to the album.

Cannibal Corpse have stood atop the Death Metal throne for over 30 years now, and for good reason. They’ve been one of Metal’s most consistent bands, where even their worst albums are still good, and their peak albums being downright excellent. They occasionally get a bad rep from some of the Death Metal crowd for being a gateway band, but the truth is that Cannibal can go toe-to-toe with pretty much any band out there. This album is proof of that. By this point, the band could phone things in and release some average material the way fellow peers have done in recent years (looking at you Deicide and Morbid Angel) but instead they’ve proven that they very much still have the same fire from 30 years ago. This album is peak CC, doing everything they do at the absolute highest level. The tempo changes could feel completely off with most other bands, but CC have made it all just feel so… natural. There’s something for every Death Metal fan. You have Thrashy Death Metal riffs, some Technical Death Metal riffs, monstrous grooves and sludgy neck snappers. The lead work is intense and often unsettling, providing plenty of shred for guitar nerds, but also plenty of disturbing harmonies that put you on edge. Fisher has proven why he’s such a beloved vocalist with a performance that can stand tall with his absolute best work. Paul’s drumming is top notch, still being able to pick the right beats to compliment the music, and his use of tempo changes throughout is high tier stuff that elevates the music significantly. The guitar playing by Barrett and Rutan is tight and clean, with Alex’s bass playing as excellent as it’s ever been. 

Production wise, the album is excellent, with the only issue being my want for the drums to be slightly louder (especially on the kick drums). But that’s a minor thing as you can still hear them fine, I just think the music would be a little more destructive if they were slightly more prominent in the mix. The bass tone is pure filth and the guitars sound ridiculously heavy, even by Death Metal standards. The mix is great, bar my one minor issue. You can still hear everything with ease, including all the different layers and it helps flesh out the album. Despite the pure insanity the album offers, the fact that you can still hear everything is impressive. The album was produced by Rutan, and you can tell. Having produced the band four times before, it’s safe to say that he knows what he’s doing. His songwriting presence can also be felt throughout, adding another layer of depth to the band previously unheard in prior releases. After three decades, Cannibal Corpse have proven that they’re the reigning kings of Death Metal. They may not be the most original at times and their music does follow a certain formula, but it’s straight up brutal, uncompromising Death Metal that takes no prisoners and pulls no punches. Violence Unimagined is one of the bands highlights, setting the bar high for all Death Metal releases this year. Well done Cannibal Corpse, 15 albums in and still making career highlights. If you’re a fan, then you’ll love every second of this. And if you’re not, I’d still recommend giving it a go. There’s a lot to chew on here so you’ll find something to love.

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined is out on Friday via Metal Blade

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