Released: 2006, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
In a market where you’re only as good as your last album, Cannibal Corpse should have nothing to worry about since, ten albums into their career, they remain one of the most consistent acts in metal. Period. The band has yet to release a bad album and seems incapable of doing so. On their latest slab of blood-soaked butchery, KILL, the band enlisted the production duties of Hate Eternal’s Erik Rutan, generating a much thicker sound that is apt for their brand of death metal. The last two Neil Kernon-helmed discs, 2002’s GORE OBSESSED and 2004’s THE WRETCHED SPAWN, were a little too slick but Rutan has brought the band’s sound back to a level befitting of the subject and style. Paul Mazurkiewicz’ drums are throttling, something lacking on recent albums, which is a welcome return and along with Alex Webster, the two sound tighter than ever. Founding member and guitarist Jack Owen quit the band after the release of THE WRETCHED SPAWN, so KILL sees the return of Rob Barrett who played on 1994’s THE BLEEDING—Chris Barnes’ last album before George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher took over vocals—and 1996’s VILE. Barrett left the band due to Jack Owen’s inability to extend himself as a player but with the highly-technical Pat O’Brien on board, Barrett is now free to explore a broader landscape which both guitarists do here. The riffs sound fresh and O’Brien’s solos have never been more fluid. Of course, Fisher is in top form, as well, dropping his voice to sub-human lows and pulling out no stops with his screams. KILL may well be the heaviest the band has sounded in years but one thing is for certain and that is there is no sign of slowing down the mighty Cannibal Corpse.
“The Time To Kill Is Now” (with a brief guest appearance by Rutan on backing vocals) punctuates the air with one of Fisher’s trademark screams. The riffing and pinch harmonics are immediately awe-inspiring as is O’Brien’s frantically-paced diving solo. At barely two minutes in length, this song goes straight for the throat and never lets go making it a sure-fire bet for inclusion to the band’s live set. “Make Them Suffer” sees Fisher’s rapid-fire delivery in the chorus and his guttural growls are off-set by a paint-peeling scream firmly entrenching him as one of death metal’s premier throats. The time changes in “Necrosadistic Warning” show the band still has a few tricks up their collective sleeve. Webster’s serpentine bass lines are among his best and Mazurkiewicz’ blasts and kick drum are well-timed, following the same cadence as Fisher’s vocals. “Five Nails Through The Neck” could be the defining Cannibal Corpse song. Fisher’s growl/scream, horrifically violent lyrics, a devastating breakdown section and a blindingly-fast complex solo. Perfection. “Barbaric Bludgeonings” sees Barrett’s one-and-only songwriting credit on the album and while he was never a major songwriting force in the band—Webster and Mazurkiewicz still handle the lion’s share—this track reveals that he possesses some real groove and it sounds great on the band. Webster lets his fingers fly on the intro to “The Discipline of Revenge” which should silence anyone who thinks death metal is played by a bunch of talentless, mouth-breathing skids. “Brain Removal Device” is another groove-filled track peppered with memorable riffs and, dare I say it, a catchy chorus! The rhythm section of the band absolutely crushes on “Submerged In Boiling Flesh.” From start to finish, this is one of the heaviest tracks the band has ever done and features some of their most tormented and disturbing lyrics. After sixteen years, that is saying a lot. The Pat O’Brien-penned instrumental “Infinite Misery” is paced similar to the slower passages of “Gallery of Suicide” or “From Skin To Liquid” and flows with some incredible guitar shredding. The plodding riff that opens the track gives way for a soaring, whammy-squawk of a solo that silences any naysayers who still question O’Brien’s defection from Nevermore.
Musically, there isn’t much to pick apart on KILL although, like THE BLEEDING, I am disappointed with the cover art. One of the most instantly definable components of a Cannibal Corpse release is the shocking (and often banned) artwork of Vincent Locke but the plain red-and-black cover looks like a quick Photoshop job that anyone could have thrown together. Maybe the simplicity of the title beckoned a similarly simplified cover but it certainly is a disappointing entry in the Locke/Cannibal partnership.
Like every other Cannibal Corpse album, you know exactly what you’re going to get going in and KILL is no exception. Granted, Erik Rutan’s production ear does wonders for KILL’s sound and Rob Barrett’s return seems to have breathed new life into the band musically but for the most part, not much has changed. The body count is high, zombies defile corpses and various human atrocities are spelled out. Fisher screams, Mazurkiewicz blasts, Webster noodles and the guitar tandem sizzles. So with such a tried-and-true formula in place, what is it that keeps Cannibal Corpse from becoming insignificant and leaves its fans thirsty for another sanguine-filled helping of violence and bloodshed sixteen years and ten albums into its career? Like Linus’ security blanket, Cannibal Corpse is warm and comforting, a place where you can nuzzle into death metal’s ample bosom and feel like all is right with the world as people are burned alive, nailed to planks and disemboweled. Ahhh…home sweet home.
KILLER KUTS: “The Time To Kill Is Now,” “Make Them Suffer,” “Necrosadistic Warning,” “Five Nails Through The Neck,” “Barbaric Bludgeonings,” “Brain Removal Device,” “Submerged In Boiling Flesh”