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Allow me to spin back the wheel of time a few years back. To be more precise, somewhere around 6 years back. I had just been properly initiated into metal, checked out all the most well known bands out there, bought my Iron Maiden shirts, and so on. You know, everything that a youngster does. At that time, extreme metal was a realm completely unknown to me, and while I acknowledged the existence of bands like Cannibal Corpse, even at the slightest glimpse of their music, I was instantly disgusted, repulsed, and simply put away. I couldn't stand incomprehensible growling instead of singing, stupid guitar rape instead of riffs, and bucket pounding instead of drumming. Now, it's been a long time since that, I have grown to appreciate extreme metal, and as a matter of fact, I think that I listen to it nowadays maybe even more than classic stuff. But, there is one thing I simply don't understand. Cannibal Corpse is death metal's most popular band. How? I mean, how on earth? Don't get me wrong, these guys can play like maniacs, but that's the weird thing. Cannibal Corpse is such a technical band, they don't appeal to mainstream tastes at all. Now, this particular album isn't such an exercise in wankery and brutality as their later outputs, but it's still far more complex than most of the death metal stuff released around 1990. I think it's this band's fault that I haven't gotten into death metal way earlier than I actually did, I always associated loud pounding, growls so deep and guttural even guts themselves are less gutural than them, and no real hooks as being textbook death metal.
Now, despite the fact that my ears got used to extreme music, there is still some stupid pounding on here ruining very, very decent music. Immediate example: Shredded Humans. Such a great song. It certainly doesn't need TUM! TUM! TUM! parts between verses. They just sound annoying. Chris's vocals are far better than they would be later, the guy apparently went out to prove he can sound as inhumanly deep as is possible, yet here he sounds not only listenable but perfectly fitting too. His yelling has a lot in common with thrash metal, yet he delivers them deeper and more aggressive, sounding like a real death metal vocalist. The riffs are also very cool and memorable most of the time, highlights including the last part of the aforementioned opener during the 'I see my fresh kill!' part, before and between the solos, the intro to Edible Autopsy, and the entirety of Born In A Casket. Well, I don't feel like dissecting the entire album for good riffs, just listen and you will find plenty yourself. Also, the idea of including gang-shouted vocals is indeed good, as Mangled wouldn't sound near as brutal without Glen Benton. A Skull Full Of Maggots is probably the only regular song in their setlist nowadays, a solid choice that listens like it's made for live environment.
All that being said, this is still a good album. It's aggressive, it's heavy, it's primitive, and it's textbook death metal. A moderate amount of flaws, some of which include stupid drumming, vocals stale at times, and the lack of real hooks prevent it from being a total classic, but it still kinda is a classic in its own way. This is ironically probably the most unknown Cannibal Corpse album, but at the same time it's the catchiest. It's such an oxymoron. The most well known In Flames album is probably Reroute To Remain, because of it's poppish approach and cheesy choruses, and it makes perfect sense in the mainstream music sense. Cannibal Corpse phenomena however, makes no sense, and it just amazes me. These guys are gods of their respective instruments, and a glimpse of it can definitely be seen here, but if you want a really technical Corpse, check out The Bleeding or Tomb Of The Mutilated.
Favorite moments: the ending and solo section of Shredded Humans, FUCK YOU!, intro of Born In A Casket, chorus of A Skull Full Of Maggots.