Thirty years on from their iconic and controversial ‘Butchered At Birth’, death metal mainstays Cannibal Corpse are still consistently churning out records and causing controversy.
‘Violence Unimagined’, the Florida based band’s fifteenth studio album is also their first since 1996‘s ‘Vile’ not to feature lead guitarist and songwriter, Pat O’Brien. He’s since been replaced by Hate Eternal guitarist/vocalist Erik Rutan, who also fills the role of producer for ‘Violence Unimagined’. His work here is impressive, and this is easily Cannibal Corpse‘s best sounding album, bringing out the weighty best in the drop A# tunings and the unhinged physicality of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher‘s vocals.
Fisher, who has become something of the band’s mascot; a thick-necked, World Of Warcraft-playing death metal icon, has never sounded better. His concise vocal style, whereby words are often clustered together into short bursts, similar to Napalm Death‘s Barney Greenway, gives the trademark gory lyrics (more on which shortly) an especially potent delivery this time round. The verses of ‘Murderous Rampage’ are spat with a foaming-mouth venom, while ‘Inhumane Harvest’‘s choruses possess an anthemic sense of gleeful aggression.
The lyrical images on this album are, of course, still vivid and grotesque, from ‘Inhumane Harvest’‘s tale of a human trafficking business to ‘Overtorture’‘s narrative told from the POV of a dying torture victim. However, a few tracks actually contain lyrics that are quite nuanced and thoughtful. ‘Condemnation Contagion’ is Cannibal Corpse‘s COVID-19 track, telling the tale of a pandemic from the perspective of a germaphobe, while ‘Bound And Burned’ plots the psychology of a young serial killer via some impressive and subtle imagery.
Cannibal Corpse are ageing with surprising grace. They’re still surrounded by controversy and carnage, but their thematic violence has become considerably more refined and consciously designed. Their music is also still developing and increasing in its proficiency. ‘Follow The Blood’ contains a solo of Meshuggah-esque eeriness, while ‘Cerements Of The Flayed’‘s 7-string guitars provide stretches of majestic doominess.
The tried and tested Cannibal Corpse formula is rarely diverted from, however, some careful little touches combine with the career-best performances to make ‘Violence Unimagined’ a top-drawer death metal record from a band who understand their art form with the utmost clarity.