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Some people like to complain about Cannibal Corpse being stale and releasing the same album repeatedly. Yet every genre has these bands, and needs them I might add. They're the bands you can count on. The same people who complain about Cannibal Corpse's reliable style would probably complain just as much if the band did change its sound. Having said that, I don't believe that the band is infallible. While the band's style remains the same, the quality of its albums does not. Cannibal Corpse definitely slipped during the early 2000's. After phoning it in for a while, Kill came along and started to set things straight in 2006. Then in 2009, Evisceration Plague restored more of the band's former glory. Cannibal Corpse's latest exercise in brutality, Torture, continues this path of improvement and even throws us a few curve balls here and there.
On Torture the band seems as if it is trying to expand its style while staying within the confines of the classic Cannibal Corpse sound. This is not an easy task, but Cannibal pulls it off on Torture. One of the most immediately noticeable improvements is in the quality of the songs. Each track is well-written and feels more thought-out than other recent Cannibal albums. There's not a throwaway track in the bunch. While Torture has plenty of fast tunes ("Demented Aggression" and "Encased in Concrete" for example), the band takes the tempo to a new level of slowness in some instances. "Scourge of Iron" is the prime example of this. The song's slow grooves are a refreshing change that is sure to get fans' heads nodding along while their faces contort into grimaces of the "fuck yeah, this rules" persuasion. Like the songs themselves, the guitar solos on Torture sound more composed and thought-out this time around. As a result, the leads are more memorable than usual. Several are downright catchy. The rhythm guitar work has plenty of noteworthy moments too. While the guitar riffs are mostly what we've come to expect from Cannibal, there are some more technical than expected moments in songs like "Intestinal Crank." There are also some other uncharacteristic occurrences like the clean, watery guitar chords in "Followed Home Then Killed." Some of these differences are minute, but they are there for those who look closely. Of course, Corpsegrinder sticks to his usual vocal style, and Alex Webster's bass playing is impressive as always. Although, there is probably a larger quantity of awesome bass noodling on this album than we are accustomed to. The drumming is also what one would expect to hear on a Corpse album, but Mazurkiewicz has certainly tightened up his playing. There are some nice drum fills throughout the album that show he has been honing his skills.
With its solid, memorable songs and a little welcome variety, Torture just might be the best Corpsegrinder era album since 1996's Vile. If not, it's certainly the band's best album in a decade. Every Cannibal Corpse album features at least one or two songs that are destined to be concert favorites, but Torture is a winner from start to finish. I have to say I never would have guessed that I would be rating a new Cannibal Corpse album so highly. Fans who have stuck by the band all of these years will love Torture. This album may even win over a few doubters. As the killing spree enters its twenty-third year, it's great to see that the guys in Cannibal Corpse still have an album like Torture in them.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com