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Underrated classic - 90%

goredisorder, December 1st, 2009

Eaten Back to Life is a criminally underrated album. It is Cannibal Corpse at their thrashiest, thrashy but definitely in the death metal field, similar to Morbid Angel’s also underrated Abominations of Desolation. As much as I love death metal and am bored to tears by most thrash, this sort of death metal that’s thrashy but not to the hybrid extent of “death-thrash” is always welcomed with open arms.

Each song has a lot going on, THIS is the way variety in song structure should be done, not the way people today think it needs to be spastic and boastfully technical. That’s overkill. Eaten Back to Life doesn’t skip a beat but it never reaches the point where it gets so complicated it’s actually a feat of endurance to listen to. (read: Origin) Not that it’s simple groovy shit, it’s a smooth but intense album without a dull moment, without sounding forced, more brutal than most of the technical or brutal dm albums coming out almost two decades after its release.

The bass is a major highlight here because you can hear it, wow. Not only that actually, but it sticks out too, especially at the beginning of songs or during pauses between shifts in song direction. The prominence of bass is appreciated, even if the bassist isn’t doing much I can’t tell (can anyone really except a bassist?), I’m just happy to hear the bass. The production or tone basically is pretty much perfect here, obviously not low-fi garage rehearsal quality but it’s got a grittiness to it which a lot of death metal, including the more recent Cannibal Corpse albums in my opinion, seems to lack. It doesn’t sound too “studio.”

The riffs are also cool, like the overall songs they’re not too complicated but brutal without sounding like the band is trying to be. Fast and brutal is what it’s all about and it comes natural On Eaten Back to Life. The vocals are kind of thrashy like the music. This is before Barnes established his “slimy” sound and the lyrics are half decipherable. Although he’s good later too, it’s nice to hear him sound half human. The drumming here is also some of CC’s best, holding up that machine-gun feel nicely without blasting into stagnation, also with a few moments in the spotlight like the bass (although a lot less). The few seconds of Glen Benton’s contribution here is also awesome, just one of those minor niches in an album that make it kinda special. It took me a few years to learn that those Benton-like vocals were bellows of the beast himself, heh. (same with Cancer’s “Hung..”, maybe I’m slow)

Eaten Back to Life is an essential death metal album. It’s not as extreme as CC’s next few albums which a lot of fans seem to focus on while neglecting the genius of this one. Okay maybe not genius.. but it’s damn good. It’s a hearty slab of early death metal but no matter what new levels of “brutality” come out this never gets old or relatively weak, ever. Give me Origin and give me the first Cannibal Corpse album, and I’ll take this over the other any day, thanks.

ps I didn’t mean to pick on Origin. I kinda like them, actually.