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In the world of traditional death metal, where brutality is king, few bands are as important and well-known as Cannibal Corpse. Whether it be their over the top, gore-splattered album covers, or song titles such as “I Cum Blood” and “Fucked With a Knife” and lyrics that have had them banned in some countries, Cannibal Corpse have always attracted controversy and interest. What is often overlooked however is the actual music. Cannibal Corpse are one of the most consistent bands in metal, especially in death metal. Never a band to go off and do an experimental album like Morbid Angel or even a band to make an average album, Cannibal Corpse simply sledgehammer their way into your brain release after release after release, like death metal’s own Motorhead.
Is their latest album “Torture” any different? From the first second of opener “Demented Aggression” the answer is a resounding no. A major factor in Cannibal Corpse’s continued success is their ability to not just be consistently brutal and relentless, but also to make actual memorable songs rather than just a mess of blast beats and incoherent vocals. This album, like every other Corpse album, is packed full of hooks and riffs that grab your attention before throttling you. Various changes in tempo fill this album too. From frenzied speed on songs such as “Demented Aggression” and “Rabid” to slower, more groove orientated songs such as “Scourge of Iron”, to songs where the two combine to absolutely devastating effect like “Encased In Concrete”, this is an album that not only makes your head bang solidly for an hour, but mixes things up a bit too.
The groove on this album is a huge part, songs crawling along at a slower, far more sinister pace for the majority of the time. “Sinister” is a word that sums up a lot of this album. Whether it be the eerie intro to ”Followed Home Then Killed” before it begins its slow march towards you, or the slower section of “Demented Aggression” that surfaces about halfway through, one thing becomes clear. This is not ultra-technical death metal full of blast beats, sweeping guitar solos and high-tech production. This is death metal as it was originally meant to be: dirty, organic, and ridiculously heavy. Alongside bands such as Autopsy and Grave, Cannibal Corpse helped to pioneer this sound and are doing a tremendous job of keeping it alive today in 2012. “Torture” sounds like an actual band playing, pulsating like an organic mound of pulsing flesh rather than a computerized robot like some modern death metal bands.
Not to say Cannibal Corpse aren’t technical however. The musicianship on this album is superb, as it always has been, especially from bassist Alex Webster. While Cannibal Corpse have been subject to a revolving line-up, their rhythm section has stayed constant, and Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz are as solid as ever. Webster once again makes it his mission to make his bass parts as complex as possible while still flowing and sounding like an actual person, for example the bass solo on “The Strangulation Chair”. The fact that the bass is not only audible in the mix, but is often the central focus of a song, is just one of many little factors that lift this album up above so many others. Others are Mazurkiewicz’s relentless and creative drumming, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s frantic vocal delivery, and of course crushing riffs that once again make Cannibal Corpse a band with songs that are simply enjoyable. This is not pushing any boundaries or doing something creatively unique, it is simply creating 45 minutes of classic, superbly enjoyable death metal. Long may it continue.