13 March 2012
by Tom Dare
When people talk about Cannibal Corpse, they usually wank on about the classics: Tomb Of The Mutilated, The Bleeding or Butchered At Birth. But there’s a slowly growing set of voices claiming their recent output is in fact the best the kings of gore have done. And Torture is the final step needed to premanently raise modern ‘Corpse among the “classics”.
The simple facts are these: yes, ‘Hammer Smashed Face‘ and ‘I Cum Blood‘ are amazing songs, and those old albums still sound fucking brutal 20 years on. But Cannibal Corpse are better now. In every way.
Compare, for instance, Chris Barnes’ vocals to George Fisher’s, and see who’s better. In all departments – enunciation, articulation, variation of delivery and sheer neck-thickening brutality – Corpsegrinder wins without proviso. Now look at production – the comparatively muddy sounds of the very early ’90s cannot cut it against the much clearer but still bowel-looseningly visceral and thunderous sounds of the last few albums. The Bleeding sounds horrible, but Torture sounds horrible, huge, deafeningly loud and like the band is in the room with you, rather than at some ill-defined distance from you.
“Minor points”, you cry. “It’s the music wot matters”, etc. And you’re right. Which is why the result of this old vs. new brawl is such an easy one to award to the side of modernity. Cannibal Corpse’s last album Evisceration Plague was a nightmarish, bludgeoning reign of destruction, and the record before it, Kill, showed off far more musical and technical ability than anything they did to get banned in Germany all those years ago. Torture can more than hold its own against Kill.
Opener ‘Demented Aggression‘ hares out of the traps like it’s got a Slayer record up its arse, riffing and blasting its way into your innards and spraying claret everywhere, Corpsegrinder’s roar of the title in the chorus making you clench everything – partly in exhilaration, partly to stop the shart of moderate terror that threatens to sneak out if you don’t. ‘Scourge Of Iron‘ shows the slimier, slower filth that Cannibal Corpse do so well with a few sudden rapid-fire assaults thrown in. And throughout, there are those little touches that remind you just how fantastic this band are at their instruments. While still sounding like they want to eat your face.
Perhaps it’s down to the relentless gore and guts of their lyrics and imagery, but Cannibal Corpse seem to be sometimes thought of as the knucklehead death metal band, which couldn’t be more inaccurate, short of calling them “synth-pop”. The music is as intricate and technical as you could hope for – it’s simply delivered so naturally that it beats your chin into dripping shards rather than stroking it. Check out the rhythms in the eerie riff that open ‘Intestinal Crank‘ and ‘Followed Home Then Killed‘, or the solo in the latter song. Then check out Alex Webster’s insane, brilliant lightspeed bass solo in ‘The Strangulation Chair‘. Now try and call it knucklehead. While you’re at it, try and argue that they could write something that ear-bleedingly brilliant 20 years ago. Because they couldn’t.
Torture is Cannibal Corpse doing what they’ve always done – make really fucking heavy, blood-drenched death metal. Only they’re doing it with more impact, more viciousness and more depth (“depth” not being some pretentious critical thing, simply meaning “there’s fuckloads of things you notice more on repeated listens that keep you coming back for more”) than they did in the era that made them legendary.
Sounds Like: Cannibal Corpse. Do you need any further reference points?
Standout Tracks: Demented Aggression, As Deep As The Knife Will Go, The Strangulation Chair