Cannibal Corpse. You know the name, you know the sound. You either love them or hate them. It’s been that way since they released their debut in 1990, 24 years ago. The band has come a long way since then, with various lineup changes, progression, and sometimes even stagnation. The band’s last 2 records were lacking when compared to previous works, especially Kill, which many of us here consider one of their best records, and on this reviewer considers their best since 1996’s Vile. For a band that has done essentially the same thing for the past two decades, how can they possibly get better? How could they possibly do the same thing in a different way and make an album that truly stands out in nearly every way?
The first ingredient is to mix things up. The band worked with Erik Rutan on their past 3 albums, including Kill. However, this time around they decided to work with renowned metal producer Mark Lewis, who has worked with the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder, Job For A Cowboy, and August Burns Red. His approach this time was to add a little bit of depth that the last two albums didn’t have, a certain fullness in both guitars and bass. Both instruments sound a lot thicker, most notably the bass, which Lewis dialed in perfectly. Not only did he help Webster get his best bass tone in years, but it cuts right through perfectly, just enough so that you can hear every little idiosyncrasy behind the finger picking.
The second ingredient is to allow more members to write. The past two albums, Webster has been responsible for nearly every song on it, save for a small handful. However, on A Skeletal Domain, he allows the other band members to contribute more, something that Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett took to heart. They’re responsible for some killer songs on this record, and as always Webster is still there helping churn out the killer death metal he is known for. George’s vocals have also seemed to dramatically improve in the past two years since Torture. This is the best that his voice has sounded in years, probably since 2004’s The Wretched Spawn. He adds a little bit of spice to the mix, his improved screams reverberating throughout the record’s entirety, relentless and unforgiving.
The third ingredient is to write riffs. Not just songs, riffs. This album is a collection of some of the best death metal riffs ever to grace this reviewer’s earholes, and it seems to encapsulate something that the band may have forgotten in years past. They seemed to get so focused on being heavy and writing heavy songs, forgoing the riff at times. Evisceration Plague and Torture were great records, but there weren’t any riffs that stood out. This record has some of the best the band has ever written. From the killer opening in ‘The Murderer’s Pact’ to the main riff in ‘High Velocity Impact Spatter’, the band never ceased with their dual guitar riff assault. All the instruments finally came together to form a cohesive instrument. The entire album is just one, big instrumental album, with each member contributing in their own unique way. George’s vocals capture anger. Webster’s bass captures the churning feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. O’Brien and Barrett give us the flesh ripped from their bones, and Mazurkiewicz gives us the final nails in the coffin in the form of insanely tight blastbeats.
However, the final ingredient here is the ability of the band to still be able to pull everything off. Ignoring everything, the band members are all in their 40s, with some even edging on 50. The band, after forming 26 years ago, are still able to create and perform some of the best death metal the world has to offer, without any signs of aging on their records or at their live performances. Corpsegrinder still windmills faster than most people would ever be able to. They all bang their heads until they get whiplash. And they all are able to fully express, after decades in the scene, what death metal is really about: killer riffs, brutal vocals, and a musicianship that is unparalleled.
Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain gets…