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Fuck You, Chris Barnes - 90%

CannibalCorpse, August 8th, 2007

When former singer Chris Barnes left Cannibal Corpse in 1995, their fans started worrying about their future as a band. Would they find a matching replacement? A worthy new member?

Well, I don’t want to hold this back – to me, Chris Barnes has always been the worst factor of Cannibal Corpse’s older days. His sub-standard growl (burp?), laughable shrieks and overall lack of talent have always hurt the creativity of the band.

To cut a long story short – he was holding them back.

The first CC material I heard was pre-Vile era stuff and due to the aforementioned problems I had with Barnes, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the material. But not only Barnes caused the lack of enjoyment; the skills of Owen, Barrett and Mazurkiewicz were all severely underused.

Then one night, I decided to listen to the people who recommended latter day Cannibal Corpse to me; I checked out “Vile”.

When the first track started, I got my face bashed in by pummelling drums, razor-sharp, catchy semi-technical riffage and gut-wrenching, intense screams by their new vocalist, ex-Monstrosity beast George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher.

I was delighted by the sudden change in Cannibal Corpse’s sound and found myself enjoying the new material far more than their older stuff. Tracks like “Devoured by Vermin”, “Perverse Suffering” and “Monolith” are the best examples for their change of sound; remember the plodding, simple pseudo-groove riffs of “The Bleeding” and “Butchered at Birth”, the simple structures and semi-thrashy tendencies of (the admittedly passable) “Eaten Back to Life”? About none of that can be found here.

This album is madness; “Vile” takes a large dose of technical guitar work (reminiscent of Monstrosity’s “Millennium” album, even though less overt), but does not sacrifice any catchiness.

George Fisher’s vocal range was not as impressive as on later works yet, but he simply nullified these shortcomings with conviction and youthful power. He varies between excellent guttural growls and sharp high-pitched shrieks that offer enough variation for the whole album.

Alex Webster’s bass playing was one of the few things that have always been excellent. Still, there was room for improvement and he that’s what he did – improve. The bass is greatly audible, technically challenging and simply a threat to hear. Webster is an excellent bass player and did his reputation justice on “Vile”.

Mazurkiewicz’s drumming didn’t have much room for development in pre-Vile days; the songs were often too simple or too much of a mess songwriting-wise. But due to CC’s new sound, Paul managed to let his creative juices flow as well. Blastbeats, excellent doublebass work and some damn great fills are scattered throughout the album providing a strong base for the overwhelming sound on the album.

On its own, “Vile” is an amazing death metal album but if you look at it as a new Cannibal Corpse album, it can be seen as the first milestone for a new era in the history of this band.

So if you think you can handle the departure of the brain dead monkey that is Chris Barnes, give this album a shot. It’s an excellent display of musical talent, songwriting skills and stands firmly beside the masterpieces of mid-90s American death metal.