As good as they've ever been...
Somewhere in the loft in my Fathers cottage is a box of cassettes. Amongst that collection is, I’m pretty sure, unless the old bugger’s hawked it on ebay, a copy of the first Cannibal Corpse demo.
I got it off of a metalhead friend of mine at the arse end of 1989 – it was released a bit earlier in the year, and it had taken about six months for it to get on the nerves of my mate – and, amusing though tracks like Bloody Chunks undoubtedly were, it was impossible to see how Cannibal Corpse would make it to the end of the decade before imploding under the sheer weight of gore they were producing.
Twenty eight years late I’m reviewing their fourteenth full-length album, Red Before Black.
This beggars belief, of course, but it’s a fact and a fact that surely must be worth celebrating. Red Before Black is a bleeding excellent album, which, though sticking strictly to the tried n’tested hack n’slash template of all Cannibal Corpse albums, still manages to bring some fresh innards to the table for your aural perusal.
Remaimed brings all that’s good about the ‘Corpse into one four and a quarter minute package; Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz leads from the back, never over egging the percussive pudding but still giving the ears a good kicking, whilst in front of him George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher delivers the belching and grunting in time honoured fashion. You can even occasionally decipher what he’s belching and grunting about these days (especially, strangely, when he says a rude word), which all adds to the mayhemic fun. Alex Webster is, like his rhythm partner, largely unshowy yet always rock solid and where he needs to be. Guitarists Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett add the flourishes, but likewise are generally happy to keep things compact and violent rather than florid and flamboyant.
Naming favourite tracks on a Cannibal Corpse album is largely a redundant exercise, as each song will pick you up and give you an exhilarating lesson in violence if you’ve a mind to let them. However, the excellent Firestorm Vengeance, which starts off like a slowed-down version of Slayer’s Chemical Warfare before erupting into a bellicose wardance that’s 100% Cannibal Corpse does have a certain something that elevates it above the pack here.
Red Before Black won’t convert any disbelievers, but it won’t upset long-term fans either. It’s just what you’d expect from the band, probably – but more so. Long may they continue to confound the naysayers.
Red Before Black will be released by Metal Blade on November 3rd.