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Cannibal Corpse’s debut features their easily recognizable brand of relentless, aggressive and rabid horror death metal: rhythm over melody; and the abrupt instead of harmony. Being this their first album, not even the DM genre was totally developed yet. Speed is present but it doesn’t surpass a thrash assault by Sadus or Dark Angel for example, there aren’t blast beats on any song either. Remnants of thrash are still visible.
These are the first sketches of death metal though, and they are a whole step above in terms of brutality and aggressiveness than its thrashy roots. They also got Chris fucking Barnes, the best band vocalist. His deep and gut vomiting growls are priceless. I wouldn’t say this album is his better performance but you can hear what he is up to. Production is another aspect that helps to give the blunt force trauma effect. The dismal, echoing and crude sound of the 80’s recordings add roughness to the already fierce and frantic CC’s riffing and rhythmic section. Bass guitar shares almost the same limelight as guitars. Webster’s finger picking gives a rounded and deep tone that can be well heard on this record. There aren’t many bass fills or solos in this offer but it was respected on the mixing process, another characteristic of the band’s general sound. Guitar’s distortion is uncooked, very amp like. Several guitar tracks were laid together when they mastered the album I guess, because they sound solid and consistent despite their raw and electric distortion. The band’s performance is utterly accurate and precise, except from fast passages where Mazurkewicz can’t keep up with the speed on the ride and hi hat cymbals, which sound sloppy. The double bass drums and the snare go with a perfect timing, it’s just a minor flaw that requires a lot of attention to be noticed and doesn’t soil the rest of the music really.
The band’s composer’s writing skills have grown over time, but they were sharp since day one. Riffs aren’t as technical as they would be in the future, but they are fast and well-thought. Heaviness is an integral component of CC’s music; because it’s not just a violent wall of noise, riffs are intended to be heavy and terror inducing. They are jumpy but never happy or comfortable; giving a frightening psychotic fashion to their sound. Another remarkable aspect of the band’s composition skills is that they managed to write all this songs with some sort of identity, not an easy task. They have certainly failed in other albums giving such a memorable and vivid flavor to music, but this is not the case. “Eaten Back to Life” is a strong album, a classic important for what it means as the birth of a legend but also for what it is musically and the barriers pushed towards a more defying, irreverent and extreme form of metal.