When I was 18 years old, I wasn’t fully into heavy music. Still weaning in on such metal titans such as Metallica or Slipknot, one was not fully aware that such hard hitting sounds could be transcended much further than the realms of the normal, until I watched the documentary “Metal Evolution” with the one and only Sam Dunn.
About half way through said film, a small excerpt is bought up, the evolution of the Florida Death Metal scene. An unlikely place for such a dark and disgusting sounding form of music to birth, the subject came up on the scenes most notorious and successful act Cannibal Corpse. A band so vilified at that point in time that the one and only presidential candidate Bob Dole called them out as being a complete danger to the kids of America, much has changed since then. Naturally this had the opposite effect, and now Cannibal Corpse are now considered the seminal Extreme Death Metal act, they are back with album number Fourteen, titled “Red Before Black” almost thirty years since the bands inception.
The albums opener “Only One Will Die” takes no time in messing around, blasting the listeners ears with the sound that the band is legendary for, brutality. Taking the “if it aint broke don’t fix it formula” as always, the band leads head on into the title track, keeping in line the same pulsating guitar shreds, blast beats and of course George “Corpsegrinder” Fishers gut wrenched vocals that batter the listener and don’t let up, making sure you’re well aware of their presence.
Transcending into more doom laden territory, “Code” takes its time, providing a slower, more evil tempo throughout the song that resonates with its lyrical subject matter on the addiction of mass slaughter. With such lines as “using your hands as a useless shield” it’s almost its own story, bearing a familiar resemblance to the main artwork of the album, a crazed man taking back control perhaps…
With such aptly named titles like “Heads Shovelled Off” and “Corpus Delecti” Cannibal Corpse bring forward the Death Metal in a typical fashion, although some may argue this formula has grown stale, the raw production style (courtesy of the Erik Ruten) keeps the song entertaining to such a degree that they’re almost an upgrade to the older editions to Cannibal’s catalogue.
If there is one redeeming feature to the music of Cannibal, its Alex Webster’s driving baselines, a hidden gem in a mess of dirt, with the secret highlight being the track “Scavenger Consuming Death”. Beginning with the brooding bass line and building slowly with blast beats and revelling in pure darkness, it is the quintessential song for anyone who wishes to truly understand what it is that makes this band so revered in the metal industry. I was pleasantly surprised by this albums variation, as anyone diving into a death metal record would be, but the truth is Cannibal Corpse remain on top of their game, and this album is a prime example as too why.