With this band I’ll waste no lines on an introduction; those who aren’t familiar with CANNIBAL CORPSE can’t be listening to Death Metal. My first encounter with this band was when I heard their EP named “Hammer Smashed Face”, the one containing the classical BLACK SABBATH cover “Zero The Hero”. From the very first moment I was sold, I just had to get my hands on some of their other work. What impressed me most were the totally sick vocals, at that time fast music and guttural vocals was more than enough to ensure my praise. If I had reviewed “Tomb Of The Mutilated” when I first bought it I’m quite sure the score would have been the highest available. It still gets a high score, as you most likely already have seen, but not the highest.
CANNIBAL CORPSE has always been about Death Metal coupled with extremely sick lyrics, just read the song titles. What sets them apart from many of the other gore obsessed bands, however, is the fact that the lyrics doesn’t seem to be thrown together with words from an extensive dictionary. For me it seems like the farther bands come from English speaking countries, the more they use words that you have to use your dictionary to understand. It doesn’t impress me the least.
Once upon a time I thought that Chris Barnes was the best growler Death Metal could offer, I don’t think that today. I’m impressed by the fact that he came up with the kind of vocals found on “Tomb Of The Mutilated” without using a vocal processor. What I don’t find that impressive is his problems coping with the speed of the rest the band. On several occasion he’s totally out of sync, something that never happens when George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher growls. I think that CANNIBAL CORPSE did a wise choice when they decided to replace Chris Barnes with Fisher.
The CD starts with one of my all time favourite CANNIBAL CORPSE tunes; aptly named “Hammer Smashed Face”. No dictionary needed to understand the meaning behind that one. This is the fastest song of the album, though containing some very nice breakdowns for your head banging pleasure. All in all “Tomb Of The Mutilated” is a varied record in that respect that it contains lots of tempo changes. The blast beats aren’t used in a way that makes them become stale; they stand out when they are used. Not only are the blast beats used wisely, they sound great as well; Scott Burns surely knew how to turn those knobs. Another positive aspect is that the bass guitar is audible in the mix, its good when a band has a strong personality playing the bass, one that won’t let his instrument get buried in the mix, hails to Alex Webster. I would also like to give some hails to the Mr. Rusay and Mr. Owen for churning out lots of good riffs.
“Tomb Of The Mutilated” has definitively stood the test of time, though the vocal performance of Chris Barnes hasn’t. His contribution makes many of the songs sound awfully alike even though they aren’t. He use the same vocal approach when the music goes blazingly fast as when it slows down. Only on rare occasion does he use screams to kill the monotony, other than that the vocals are in the same tone all the way. That is a shame since the riffs here invites to some great growling and not just a layer of grunts. I’m not saying that his performance is flat out bad, on some occasions the vocals fits the music perfectly, it’s just that it would have been so much better if he had been able to do this all the time.
I don’t think that there is a single bad song on “Tomb Of The Mutilated”, so besides my problems with the vocals this is an easy recommendation. It outdoes most of the stuff made by gory Death Metal bands, past and present. Hails to the Corpse. (Online February 14, 2006)