Cannibal Corpse - Red Before Black - (8/10)
Published on November 20, 2017
Another year, another Cannibal Corpse record. Technically speaking, that’s all this review needs to be to inform any death metal fan of what to expect from Red Before Black. I mean, for God’s sake, since 1990 the East Coasters have been bringing the pain more consistently than a steamroller – and with twice the impact. I’m not entirely convinced there is such thing as a ‘bad’ Cannibal Corpse record; they’re all chunky slabs of brutal death metal with full-on gory imagery and a little technical wizardry sprinkled for taste. 2014’s A Skeletal Domain left us thoroughly satisfied, and 2017’s Red Before Black is going to prove troublesome in describing how exactly it holds its own among CC’s enormous discography. It’s definitely great – but how?
One thing I always give Cannibal Corpse credit for is being inexplicably catchy. Death metal is not a sub-genre renowned for its finger-clicking, hum-along tunes – yet somehow CC have provided us with such memorable numbers as “Kill Or Become” (‘FIRE UP THE CHAINSAAAWWW!’) and, on this new effort, “Code Of The Slashers”. It was an ingenious move releasing this third track as a single; the impactful lines like ‘next thing you know, cold steel on your face!’ and the incredibly satisfying ‘we’ll end your fucking life!’ are sure to go down a storm live, and live on in the CC hall of fame forever. This track also flows brilliantly in terms of music; its crushingly sludge-like opening and closing sections bookending the chaotic maelstrom within. Its precursor, and second single, the title-track, is nowhere near as effective with its songwriting, but possesses its own simplistic charm through the almost primitive vocal patterns.
Webster and co. thrive under the banner of both quality and quantity. Twelve tracks, all between three and five minutes, might seem a bit like overkill for this sub-genre – but as usual, Corpsegrinder’s crew make it a thoroughly pleasant 46 minute journey through a surprisingly varied collection of gory anecdotes. Having now covered almost every method of murder and death imaginable, we are treated to the delightful ‘Open neck holes fester, ravaged by the vultures’ in “Heads Shoveled Off”; and my personal favourite: ‘decaying torn off penises which the men were made to chew and swallow’ in the hilariously-titled “Remaimed”. All in the spirit of fun! The legendary George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher delivers these gross analogies with his undying vocals which only seem to get stronger as the years fail to condemn. Check out the “UUAAGH!” at the start of “Shedding My Human Skin” – I’ll replay that moment ’til death.
Paul Mazurkiewicz’s 30-year performance behind the kit deserves serious kudos. Blasting and grooving his way through Red Before Black, contributing enormously to the chaotic atmosphere this album has over the others. Sometimes fills feel rushed, or blasts feel slightly off-kilter – it’s a rollercoaster at points. Sure, the rapid-fire gallops of “Only One Will Die” and “In The Midst Of Ruin” showcase the brutal tendencies to a tee. But the more groove-oriented “Corpus Delicti” and “Firestorm Vengeance” are where you’ll find that your head wants to involuntarily detach itself from your body due to the sheer weight of that slamming guitar tone and the hulking riffs. Vicious, headbangable, accessible (as far as death metal goes) and embodying that tongue-in-cheek horror that we all love so much, Red Before Black is another notch in the Cannibal Corpse coffin. You know what it’s going to sound like. Just listen, enjoy, and wait for the next one!