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Ah, Cannibal Corpse. I've never had a fixed opinion on this band, to be honest. There was a time when I hated Chris Barnes and felt that Corpsegrinder was superior, and after that I felt that CC were THE most over-rated band in the world and never recorded a decent song, let alone an entire album. Recently (since a couple of months ago) I really started to enjoy Barnes-era Corpse, namely “Tomb of the Mutilated” and “The Bleeding.” And maybe that's why I like this legendary band's latest album more than it's predecessor, “Kill.” Kill was an album that almost exclusively focused on sheer speed and brutality, and lacked the addictive mid-paced grooves of the two early Corpse albums I just mentioned. For that reason alone, I like this album more than “Kill.”
Before I can delve into the music and why I think that the groovy sections are the sole reason why this album rips apart it's predecessor, I guess I have to explore the production a bit. The production is very similar to Kill, but the guitar tone has more of a crunchy feel to it, which really elevates the quality of the slower mid tempo parts. The drum sound also has a nice punch to it, which also aids the classic Cannibal Corpse grooves. However, the drums feel too mechanical and less fluid during the faster parts and the loud drum sound is to blame. Fortunately, the faster parts here don't usually last too long (unlike Kill) and just when the drum starts to get annoying, a guitar solo comes to save the day. And if it doesn't, the band just shifts into a slower yet more sick speed.
Anyway, like I said before, the riffs here have more in common with Barnes' last two CC albums than they have to do with “Kill.” Sure, the faster songs may bring “Kill” (and sometimes “Eaten Back to Life”) to mind, but as I said before, the fast sections are scattered throughout the album. The riffs are extremely catchy and just force you to bang your head in tune with the song's tempo, even if your neck is sore after the ass kicking that Napalm Death's latest album gave you. The only problem here which I can see is that when the songs finally move into faster sections, it just doesn't feel full and at times it feels forced, as if the band just said to themselves “Hey, we're a death metal band, so we should be ULTRA fast, right?” Also, the faster sections feel restrained, as does Corpsegrinder's vocals. His voice doesn't travel as far as it should at times and feels hollow and powerless. Maybe the guitars should have been a bit higher in the mix so they could have overshadowed the vocals and the drums (which sound pretty mechanical) during the fast parts.
The songs feel a lot more full than the ones in "Kill," in spite of the half baked faster parts. The band seems to have put more thought into the song structures, with the sharp tremolo riffs seemlessly morphing into chunky thrash inspired riffs. "Priests of Sodom" and "Carrion Sculpted Entity" show this off well. Speaking of the tremolo riffs, the tremolo riffs here are actually very interesting, which is more than what I can say about the other George Fisher albums. Corpse were always good at their headsplitting grooves, but when it came to tremolo riffs they would usually fall on their faces. The tremolo guitar work acts as a "path clearer," for the most part, just building up for the chunky riffs that would follow it. BUT it does its job extremely well, (once again) unlike the other Fisher albums. The highlight of the quality guitar work here is definitely the mid paced riffs (which I have mentioned about a million times in this review, hahah) simply because they were ALWAYS the main highlight of Cannibal Corpse's sound and and because they are so damn catchy. Corpsegrinder's weak vocal performance here is only good in these slower parts, just like the drums!
What else is there to say? This is a Cannibal fucking Corpse album, which means that despite the negatives, it's still fucking enjoyable. This isn't something I'll be listening to all the time and this is by no means as good as the band's first four albums, but it still manages to kick a sufficient amount of ass.