For almost thirty years Cannibal Corpse are at the peak of the American death metal scene, narrating zombirrific tales of gore, blood and decay. Throughout their rich discography they have never disappointed their wide fan base, remaining loyal to their brutal sound and avoiding musical experimentations, as they prefer to keep themselves to already known and explored territories.
The cannibals recently released their fourteenth record under Metal Blade Records, named “Red Before Black”. The title is not randomly selected, since it depicts clearly what the band wish to deliver to the audience: genuine, brutal death metal at its finest.
The record starts with two dynamites, representative of their thrash roots: “Only One Will Die” and “Red Before Black” are intended to send you directly to the pit, without unnecessary delays. The extremely fast, addictive, raging riffs and blast beats, typical of Cannibal Corpse’s aggressiveness, will surely leave no neck intact; hence, death metal maniacs are kindly advised to improve their headbanging technique, as damage is likely to occur during frenzy.
However, the overall sound landscape of the album is rather groovy, as the other songs combine slower, mid-paced parts with sudden, furious outbursts. Traditional features of Cannibal Corpse like solid, speedy, cataclysmic riffs, drumming that ranges from groovy parts to blast beats and Fisher’s awesome gutter vocals are also present in “Red Before Black”, enhancing our listening experience. Doom elements are evident in “Code of the Slashers” and “Remaimed” (listen to the slow intros), while more technical riffs appear in “Firestorm Vengeance”, reminding me of other, more technically oriented bands of the genre. Luckily, the cannibals use once more lead guitar solos to all songs, a diversity that enables the human ear to rest after sequences of hellish riffs.
The band has the advantage to employ one of the most prominent rhythm sections of the genre; Webster and Mazurkiewicz excel again in bass and drums respectively, creating a devastating road roller, upon which heavy, hulking riffs are laid. Bass is crushing, but only on few occasions it stands alone, like in “Scavenger Consuming Death”. No matter to mention Mazurkiewicz’s drumming, either grooving or blasting, that dominates the album and guides the others safely. As for Fisher’s voice, it remains unchanged at its high quality growling state despite the passing of many years, contributing to the rotting atmosphere of the album.
The above aspects are highlighted by the excellent production of Erik Rutan, whom the band had collaborated with on “Kill”, “Evisceration Plague” and “Torture”. His work contributes significantly on the clarity and quality of all the instruments, making them sounding both heavy (as they should be) and crystal clear.
"Red Before Black" keeps Cannibal Corpse on their prominent position at the American scene, constituting an evidence that they haven’t lost their creativity, even after three decades of discography. Of course, the new record isn’t drastically different compared to what they’ve done so far, but it represents what a real fan of the genre should expect: genuine brutal death metal from Florida, without intention of selling out.