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A dormant domain - 72%

EzraBlumenfeld, January 10th, 2019

Of all the bands I would ever expect to change styles, Cannibal Corpse is definitely near the bottom of the list. They've easily fulfilled that expectation: A Skeletal Domain is really no different than any of their earlier, stronger albums. In fact, at this point they've become more of a nostalgia band than anything else; their previously-shocking brand of gore-ridden death metal has faded to a shadow of the terrifying force they were with Chris Barnes on vocals, and their most recent albums have failed to restart the controversy machine that used to hone in on everything they put out.

While musically this album could have made the grade back in 1993, it fails to leave much of an impression as a 2015 release. Between the blast beats and typical death metal riffs, it's really nothing special. The lyrics are even a watered-down version of what they used to be.

Cannibal Corpse's lyrics and song titles were once horrible enough that could've made Ruggero Deodato gasp, with narrated accounts of gruesome murders and repulsive sexual violence that would easily earn a real-life perpetrator several life sentences. Nowadays, the band seems to have run out of ideas, focusing mostly still on grisly killing but with far less detail or passion. At this point, it seems that the lyricists have run out of ideas and what they do churn out seems forced.

Productionwise A Skeletal Domain is spotless, but that's not really a good thing; the raw, biting guitars and natural drums from their classic album are replaced with simulated amplifiers and obvious samples that eliminate much of the music's human element.

I think the music here is fine, but the lyrics are stale and the high-tech production is irredeemable. I wish that more fresh ideas were being put into play on this album, or that they would continue to create death metal of simply unrivalled brutality; yet, their time has passed. With Cannibal Corpse, you know what you're gonna get.

Horror vs. Terror - 65%

Songsavers, November 20th, 2015

[Originally posted at songsavers.wordpress.com]

The public's exposure to Cannibal Corpse is predominantly due to their odious album art (Tomb of the Mutilated scarred me as a child) and appearance in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective performing "Hammer-Smashed Face." Although they are no longer banned from selling merchandise in Australia and Germany, Cannibal Corpse's propensity to release sickeningly graphic artwork has declined in recent years, with Evisceration Plague and Kill sporting less outwardly ghastly material - 2012's Torture notwithstanding. A Skeletal Domain is the Buffalo, NY death metal quintet's 2014 release and thirteenth full-length studio album in a quarter-century of activity.

Ann Radcliffe - author of The Romance of the Forest and a crucial influence upon Marquis de Sade and Edgar Allen Poe - described the difference between horror and terror as the the former using "obscurity" and "indeterminancy" in eliciting fear; the latter, "freezes and annihilates" the senses through atrocity and cruelty. In other words, terror is the fear gained from suspense and not knowing what lurks behind that locked door, while horror is the visceral reaction to witnessing depravity. Alien would be terror, whereas it sequel Aliens would be horror. Similarly, the bloodthirst and graphic qualities of Cannibal Corpse's infamous Tomb of the Mutilated and The Wretched Spawn - not to mention death metal in general - constitute horror, while Suicide's claustrophobic "Frankie Teardrop" would be terror.

Leading track "High Velocity Impact Spatter" is classic grisly horror that one would expect from the group who recorded "Hammer-Smashed Face" two decades past. "Icepick Lobotomy" wonderfully describes the process of "cranial penetration." "Kill or Become" tells the story of a viral pandemic that forces humanity to compete violently for scavenged resources; remember the advice "fire up the chainsaw / cut their fucking heads off." On a couple of tracks, A Skeletal Domain utilizes psychological horror: "The Murderer's Pact" describes the cognitive dissonance of a man blackmailed into killing; and "Funeral Cremation" follows a murderer's descent into madness from the tormenting guilt of having killed a family member, where the only way to ease the conscience is to kill the rest of the family so there is no one left who can mourn.

Atonal riffs abound; one knows exactly what to expect if they have heard any Cannibal Corpse album - or for that matter, any modern death metal at all. The album is tightly produced, and Alex Webster's bass playing deserve particular mention with respect to his versatility, not to mention producer Mark Lewis ensuring the sheer audibility of Webster's bass lines.

Cannibal Corpse have played the gory death metal game for some time; A Skeletal Domain is rather interchangeable from previous albums. Despite the two previously mentioned psychological horror tracks, A Skeletal Domain uses hackneyed bodies-burning/zombies-eating material. Tomb of the Mutilated and Butchered at Birth are two of the most graphic, horrifying albums in all of heavy metal; although "Sadistic Embodiment" and "Icepick Lobotomy" will fit well on any death metal playlist, A Skeletal Domain generally pushes boundaries too weakly to elicit much visceral reaction. Gore/Guts/Genitals is so common in modern and old school death metal that sure, A Skeletal Domain will throw some shock value and big riffs at you, but will you remember it later? Probably not.

Successful modern death metal bands who seek to elicit fear would do well to remember terror should not be forgotten in the pursuit of horror. Those who just want to smash faces with hammers should remember that the novelty of shock value and atonality has long since worn off; that does not mean death metal cannot be exciting, but reliance on old tropes sans innovation will assure otherwise. A Skeletal Domain cuts that corner a bit too close.

Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain - 85%

Orbitball, February 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Metal Blade Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

A slight change from the norm -- not in song titles or lyrical concepts, but a more "approachable" onslaught of metal due to the fact that Cannibal Corpse comes up with more listenable guitar orchestrations. A catchier infliction of domineering riff writing and leads, in the brief a memorable diseased warpath embodying thickness in distortion. Songs don't sound as repetitious of say "Torture" or older material -- a more solid approach of animation among the eardrum infestation. I say through and through, the writing style is heavy and virtuous, with less intense tempo infiltration, but still technical in terms of the riffs. I can't say that I fully enjoyed the "whammy" wah in their lead outputs -- I would say that is why I took some points off in a more worthier scoring. If the band would have the leads taken out, then I might've been more generous in my rating.

Not to digress, but "Corpsegrinder" doesn't really sound any different in past discoveries in his vocal outbursts, he sounds the same. In my contention, his throat feeds well along the guitars and I would conclude that they wouldn't sound as brutal if he was taken out of the lineup -- though I do think that Barnes was better for the band, though we won't rehash ourselves from our earlier discoveries in musical form such as on "Butchered At Birth" and "Tomb of the Mutilated." These were MY favorites and they've become a different band since he left then Fisher came in. For YOU guitar maniacs the sound of the band is as if they're once again here tuning to B-flat using a lot of heavy gauge strings with more heavy palm muted slays -- the technicality we shall revisit and say it is apparent once again with a "fresh" use in thickness extremities.

When we speak of the overall recording quality, its mastery is apparent. It exists here that the music is palatable, but in Cannibal Corpse's history I can't with full honesty say that this is their best work to date. I say it is solid no doubt -- their songs here flow rampant and the music is what makes the album admirable minus those leaks in weak lead guitar aspects. In ingenuity, O'brien and Barrett come up with some interesting thickness, chunky, heavy, and explosive manifestations. To say this is a solid release is still the question -- would I be fair to say that this is deserving of a "greatness" or unfathomed ingenuity, I would say that it's a "B", a solid one if that.

We being listeners of metal know that this band have and will never depart from their concepts in lyrical domination, but I would be unfair to say that this one is unworthy of mention. The music does own the realm in it's uncompromising heaviness as well as hefty drum episodes. A still same lineup as in past releases, just not really really older releases therefore mentioned and covered. In proximity, this one musically is remaining to be heavy, dominant and ear deafening malevolence. It hits home with me, the riffs i.e. musical orchestration are summoning heaviness and would be prominent if as the leads technicality were more brightening or wholly omitted then the band would have a greater rating than what was given to it. A high "B" is still without a doubt, but Cannibal Corpse should focus more so on just the rhythms.

Concluding here as we've discovered death metal sheer precision, a definite boon to your collection, will not bore you as did (I found to be the case) older releases, just not the 2nd and 3rd albums -- those I deem as gems. They're definitely well over the styles in the early days with guitars that a much thicker and heavier distorted, whereas the early releases combined death metal vocals with a more thrashy guitar style. Definitely check out YouTube first to see if it's suitable to your palate, but I would say that followers of the band definitely will be more than satisfied with this one. Watch for catchy riff writing in both tremolo paths and technical onslaughts. Get this, it shall not disappoint or fall below your expectations -- it's notable and catchy, believe me in this entirety, the quality and ingenuity are well intact!

It's Cannibal Corpse, you know what to do - 96%

Death_Welder, February 12th, 2015

Looking back now at Cannibal Corpse's discography, they have been extremely consistent, yet made subtle changes along the way. Of course there were the Barnes albums, even though all 4 were pretty different. Enter Corpsegrinder on Vile, where they upped the technicality and aside from the doomier Gallery of Suicide, more or less remained in that zone up until The Wretched Spawn. This is where we get to present day Cannibal Corpse, beginning with Rob Barrett rejoining for the all-time magnum opus Kill. Every album since has been fantastic, exciting, brutal, catchy, and easily my favorite era of the Corpse.

Where Kill was an absolute masterpiece of technicality and brutality, Evisceration Plague was more straightforward and catchy, Torture brought a lot more old school influence and focus on songwriting, and A Skeletal Domain manages to tie up the past 12 albums in a bloody little package, with such a dark atmosphere that hasn't been seen since Tomb of the Mutilated. Every archetypal Cannibal song is represented better than ever, with the groovier Murderer's Pact, the thrashy Icepick Lobotomy, and a whole lot of blasting. One thing that makes this album stand out is Pat's writing, being that he wrote more songs this time around. His songs have always been my favorite, mixing catchy technicality and Immolation-esque darkness. Every song is great, but if we are to pick favorites, I would go with High Velocity Impact Spatter, Kill or Become, A Skeletal Domain, The Murderer's Pact, and Icepick Lobotomy. As far as individual performances, it almost feels redundant to compliment them. It's the same every Cannibal album, guitars are great, bass is legendary, vocals are ferocious and unique, and the drums are no-frills Cannibal blasts.

Of all 13 albums, I really can't recommend the latter half enough. Early albums like Tomb are still great but lacking in variety and to be honest, I much prefer Corpsegrinder on classics like Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped, Raped and Strangled. Although tastes change and develop over the years, the way it's looking now A Skeletal Domain is sitting high and mighty at the foot of the throne of Kill, which will never lose its crown. Quite a task to beat out classics like Bloodthirst, but this album is that good and fresh. It's nothing new, but it does everything WELL and right.

As You Like It - 89%

Larry6990, February 6th, 2015

When an established institution steadily maintains an output of decency, it becomes hard to complain about that institution. In this instance, death metal veterans Cannibal Corpse are said institution. Since 1990's "Eaten Back To Life", they haven't really stepped out of line once. Sure, some may have sour words to utter with regards to 1996's "Vile" or 1998's "Gallery of Suicide" - but Cannibal Corpse have firmly planted themselves on a plinth of death metal goodness which comforts us with a sense of reliability. Their newest collection of grisly shout-alongs is just that: reliable.

Firstly, "A Skeletal Domain" picks up on what so many death metal albums often disregard; the need for concision. No song drags or feels like it's been unnecessarily extended, no song feels like a throwaway, not one solo, blast-beat, or growl out of place. From the ominous swell of "High Velocity Impact Spatter" right through to the closing crash of "Hollowed Bodies", there's not one ounce of fat to be trimmed.

As is to be expected from a CC album - the production values are spot on. Driving percussion and bass rumble satisfyingly underneath a buzzsaw guitar tone and the unmistakable growls of George Fisher. Good ol' Corpsegrinder deserves a special mention for being one of the most decipherable and colourful vocalists in death metal (along with maybe Tommy Dahlström of Aeon). Every word is powered out with superb diction and convincing attitude (unlike certain mic-wielders of the same genre and era *cough*John Tardy*cough*).

The songs themselves are just as you like it. You know what to expect by now, right? Memorable riffs, tongue-in-cheek gore, frenzied dissonant solos, and song structures which keep choruses concise but enduring. Certain tracks do emerge as being highlights, due to their surprising catchiness and replay value. The first three tracks are a trio of punches that display CC's expertise in how to structure an album. "Kill or Become" is especially noteworthy; after all, who doesn't love screaming along to "hack their fucking heads off!"?

Other highlights include the chilling tale of "The Murderer's Pact", the hilarious lyrics of "Funeral Cremation" ("Starting with this bitch/I grab her arm and smash/Her body on her lifeless son"), the out-and-out interchangeable fury of "Icepick Lobotomy", and the almost hypnotic repetition of "Asphyxiate To Resuscitate". In truth, the whole album is brimming with quality, but it's wonderful to have the peak-points spread evenly through the album's duration.

It sounds like Webster and co. are on autopilot, doing their run-of-the-mill day job...and absolutely loving every minute. As an audience, we're totally okay with that! I could happily let these legends grind on and on, year after year, because we know exactly what the result will be. Satisfaction. Pure and simple.

"Fire up the chainsaw!
Hack all their heads off!
Fire up the chainsaw!
Hack their fucking heads off!

Like a (Skeletal) Domain of Death - 75%

doomknocker, November 25th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Metal Blade Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

Cannibal Corpse's continued level of monarch-like relevance is truly to be appreciated; you'd think the fuel tank would have run dry years ago given their thematic elements, and a couple times it almost did ("Gallery of Suicide", anyone...?), but dammit if they haven't been able to keep the motor roarin' for over 20 years, now. It helps that an increase in thrashing crunchiness replacing the disgusting, yet ultimately boring, traits of the Barnes Era made it possible for even the most jaded of death metallers to come back for more bloodletting, and it's really within that context that the ol' CC boys can maintain their murderous hymns as long as necessary (appearance at the Gathering of the Juggalos notwithstanding...).

Things may be a touch slower and more riff-oriented in approach, but there's still no denying the level of destructive energy that emanates from the material at large. Age has only proven to strengthen the Corpse resolve, and as far as death metal goes few can do it better than them. That extra bout of groove and haunting harmonies to the overall musical scheme is able to provide a darker and more foreboding atmosphere all throughout, and if you ask me, that tends to work better in the death metal construct over blurry, wild abandon musical violence. Thus is what made even their earlier, more classic works rather dull in the end (condemn me if you must!) and, to be perfectly honest, has resulted in the strongest batch of Corpseian tracks I've heard yet. That level of murderous insistence on a musical level is really what sells it, properly conveying the horror of a night you just might not survive in the end by way of increased sense of dynamics and evening out the slower segments and the blasting intensity very well; the inky black feel of "Funeral Cremation", for one, is a prime example of being plenty potent and devastating in this regard, where the devastation of the drum work and the preciseness of the riffs and guitar leads combined into a

Enjoyable as it may be on my end, it still really feels best to really be in the know when it comes to Cannibal Corpse's stylistic way of doing things. Maybe that's more the curse of death metal over the band in itself given how hard it's been for me to get into the genre and can see limitations others may be blind to, but it nevertheless exists here, albeit to a smaller degree or amount. It starts out plenty strong and able to maintain the attention for at least a few tracks, but as the album progressed it just got less and less interesting over time, as though we got the general gist of it within those first few songs and, despite not overly repeating themselves, we would know what to expect before going in, and all the diabolical metal nastiness contained therein would not stifle such a notion. And I hate to really point it out, but Corpsegrinder's vocal approach, while still clear and able to be understood, is starting to sound less full of life (or death?) than before. It's rather noticeable in its lack of depth and somewhat flat sound, something that I fear has been a while coming yet is starting to show its ugly roots. It happens as time progresses, sad to say.

At the end of the day it surprised me how much I was able to enjoy this in spite of my imperfect history with the Corpse and death metal in general. Certainly recommended for those who enjoy the group's method of musical flesh-eating, but even those who give fleeting glances at death/extreme metal just may nod their heads to this. Imperfect, yet still impressive...

"Headlong into the Carnage" Indeed - 90%

flightoficarus86, November 7th, 2014

Well, this was a pleasant surprise indeed. I have been an on-and-off listener of Cannibal Corpse since the early 2000’s. I never really became an avid fan, but I always came back to check out what these fore-runners of modern death metal were up to. Each time I was met with pretty similar reactions: mild amusement, some head-banging, appreciation of the technical guitar-work and drumming, etc. But not much overall enjoyment was had. The closest I came was with Kill, which was a very solid album.

With the critics talking about this being more business-as-usual for the troop, I didn’t have high expectations going into my first listen. That was a mistake. This album ripped my face off and wore it for a hat. I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about it. I really can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that makes me enjoy this album so much more than the previous ones, but my feet were rocking the double bass under my desk for almost every track. I liked it so much I went on my lunch break and bought it on the spot. Something I rarely do

This is still very much the same Cannibal Corpse you would expect, but the song writing just feels tighter and the production fiercer. A lot of people really dug Torture, but I still just couldn’t get all that interested. I give that album credit for still managing to come up with chilling imagery that was disturbing to me (for some reason Encased in Concrete just gives me the jeebies). The writing here feels a little different though. Instead of realism and straight-up gore, the imagery is either a little more supernatural or cartoonish, which I kind of enjoy. I could see Metalocalypse making episodes off of some of the ideas at play here. Funeral Cremation and Icepick Labotomy still have the disturbing realism though.

As for the musicianship, everyone shines here. The guitar riffs are more memorable (at least in my mind) and feel less cut-and-paste DM by numbers. Even the solos make an impression rather than being just typical Slayer/Venom technical guitar doodling. The drums are crushing with beats that get me amped to the Nth degree. The bass still has that weird tinny, distortion sound that lets it take center stage at times. And Mr. Corpsegrinder’s delivery is spot on. Whereas on Torture I feel he kind of haphazardly spewed the lyrics, here there is a very deliberate cadence. They don’t sound like Meshuggah, but the way he is careful to compliment the overall rhythm with each guttural bark harkens to their style.

To sum up, if you like death metal, you should buy this album. In a tired genre with not a lot of room for growth beyond developing into one of the various subgenres, this manages to feel fresh without jumping the shark. It’s not the same as the classics, but in a time where deathcore has taken over; this album can remind everyone what brutal truly means, and that the old school can still kick in skulls like they used to.

Reliability begets punishment - 80%

autothrall, September 30th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Metal Blade Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

'All their albums sound the same.' 'This band is so stagnant, I haven't been able to stand them since The Bleeding'. Yeah, sure, buddy, keep telling yourself that (but not applying the same logic to most of your other favorite bands), while I continue to enjoy one of the most consistently energized and entertaining streaks in all of death metaldom. Cannibal Corpse have produced what comes as no surprise to me: another great record in a long line of hits, with precious few misses, maintaining that median between elder death metal statesmanship and the dawn of brutality which would launch a million other bands to clean up their trail of carnage. Now, to be fair, I had read some misleading press in advance of the album's release which hinted that this album be different than those before it, which isn't necessarily true, but that's not to say A Skeletal Domain is a carbon copy of Torture or Bloodthirst or any of their other milestones...

It brings a little more visceral excitement than last time around, a little more violence at a faster clip and a lot more of Cannibal's death/thrash roots seem to have loosened in the earth and sprouted up around the sturdier quarter-century death metal trunk. While Torture seemed to be a slightly dialed back level of complexity to the decade of releases before it, A Skeletal Domain is more breakneck and threatening and definitely cranks up the velocity, to the point that some of the quicker guitar licks in cuts like "Sadistic Embodiment" seem to harbor a blitz of Teutonic speed/thrash, something I can't recall picking out very often from their earlier material. Of course, a lot of this is due to the production, which is perhaps as polished and immaculate as any other point in their career, and allows for the rhythm guitars to carve up a more clinical slab of meat than on some of their past splatter-platters, but there is just a fraction of deviation from where they were at a few years ago, enough variation that it doesn't come across too redundant to my ears...but I admit some bias, since it's rare that I come away from anything this band releases with any semblance of disappointment. They have almost always proven damned good at what they do, and even if this isn't likely to be a favorite in their discography, it certainly didn't slip past the Q.C. division when the master was shipped off to press.

Expect all the hallmarks of the Cannibal Corpse sound: Alex Webster's judicious exhibition of finger strength weaving webs of bass-lines all over the fucking steel-shaving rhythm guitars, which are performed with such surgical precision this time around that half the time I thought I was listening to a more brutal Nevermore during the faster picked, thrash-like progressions, though the slower chugs totally punch the listener in and through the gut region in mid-paced sequences. They still do a lot of those atmosphere octave chord placements circa their later 90s work, and George Corpsegrinder's syllabic patterns are more or less par for the course, but I was happy that they also left some space here for some simpler riffs that border on the atmospheric, evil moments they hinted at with records like Gallery of Suicide and Bloodthirst. I feel like this album might also be a chance to put to rest the complaints about Paul's drumming...not that I understand what these were ever about, since he's usually been pretty good, but the man is hitting like a tornado here, and even if they're not the most technical band in terms of blasting, his kit at least makes you feel like your head is being battered around with a club.

The lyrics are good as usual, psalms of psychotic murder which don't deviate from the norm...the one thing is that they seem to have lost their luster for really funny/disturbing song titles.."High Velocity Impact Spatter" and "Headlong Into Carnage" are alright, but any sense of 'shock value' seems to have been left way behind in the mid 90s. But this isn't exactly news, nor is it necessarily a flaw that upon their 13th album, the subject matter has taken on a more workmanlike character due to the gradual jadedness of the audience (myself included). At the end of the day, while I was probably the least impressed here that I had been since The Wretched Spawn a decade past, I don't feel let down or like I've wasted my money in the slightest. There's not even an outside chance that this is really going to change the minds of those long exhausted with the Cannibal aesthetics, but taken at face value, which all albums really should be, it's a hell of a beatdown that will remain enjoyable for months.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

A Skeletal Domain - 84%

Daemonium_CC, September 24th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Metal Blade Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

It’s that time for another Corpse album. I won’t mess about at all and just have to get this off my chest – this album is mighty. It’s one beast of an album, full of everything and anything you could ever want from Cannibal Corpse.

For starters, I’m glad that the band chose to work with a different producer. Not that there was anything wrong with the Rutan albums, but it’s just good to change things up a bit sometimes. It’s a bit of a gamble, sure, but if it works the pay off can be huge, just like it is here – and just like it was on Kill. I wish more bands would take this approach, such as Nile, rather than just working with the same producer over and over again. You never know who’s going to bring out the best in you.

“High Velocity Impact Spatter” – just the title is enough to get you going, and shit, does the track ever deliver. One of the most crushing opening tracks in Corpse history. You’ll immediately notice that the guitars sound thicker than ever, the bass is nice and audible, the drums are exactly the way they are supposed to be, and Corpsegrinder sounds fucking amazing. His vocals are nice and loud in the mix without washing everything else out.

Perhaps the best thing about this album is that it has something for every Corpse fan. The lighting fast tracks, the mid tempo, groovy tracks, and the downright dirty, evil tracks. It’s easy to hear things from their entire discography here. I've talked with a bunch of Corpse fans about this album, and everyone seems to have their own favorite set of songs – yet they are mostly different. Which just shows to prove that this album caters to a lot of different Corpse styles, which is great.

The band, being the seasoned pros that they are, perform flawlessly on this record. That’s to be expected, and it would really surprise me if the technical ability wasn't up there with the best. What did surprise me though was the energy rushing through this album, something I felt their previous record “Torture” lacked. But here, it’s all over the place, and it’s absolutely relentless, and great to hear the band so determined.

Another great thing on this album is that we have more contributions from Pat. Criminally under rated, Pat is an amazing guitar player. Not just technically, but he’s a fantastic song writer as well, so hearing more of his stuff on this album is a real treat. I wish Rob could get in there a bit more as well, as I have always loved his writing style in Solstice and Malevolent Creation. That said though, this is the best Cannibal Corpse line up there ever was and will be, and here the guys are in top form.

For me, it’s hard to pick my favorites, but I would say that the strongest songs on the album are “High Velocity Impact Spatter”, “Sadistic Embodiment”, A Skeletal Domain”, “Headlong Into Carnage”, “Icepick Lobotomy” and “Hallowed Bodies.” I realize that that’s basically half the album right there, but Corpse really have cut the fat off of this one and just thrown that sucker on the grill. And the end result is just pure death metal badassery. Go get this.

The smiling glare of death. - 84%

hells_unicorn, September 24th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Metal Blade Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

One might accuse the longstanding institution of things violent Cannibal Corpse of beating a dead zombie, given their relatively plain approach to cutting heads. The tired but all too familiar cliche of "you love them or you hate them" tends to follow a band of this sort, as sticking to a fairly standardized style often will bring about a similar response from one album to the next. Then again, there is a degree of wiggle room within the confines of a consistent method, not only in terms of ancillary things such as quirks from one production approach to another, or even the quality of the performance of each player, though that naturally plays a part. What tends to separate a less than spectacular outing such as Vile from an enjoyable slaying of the ear drums in The Bleeding or Kill is the songwriting, and while all the right bases are touched in every respect, it is in this particular area where A Skeletal Domain truly becomes a cut above the rest.

From first gaze, the cover art speaks to an aesthetic expression of an older time in death metal, one where zombies consuming flesh and the anatomies of humans was not splattered all over the album's exterior, but a bit more implicit and subtly expressed (think Scream Bloody Gore). Naturally this might imply that CC has taken a massive u-turn and gone back to the days of Eaten Back To Life where the band's thrash roots were still highly visible, and the truth is that while there is a greater degree of overt Slayer tendencies in several of these songs, it falls just a tad short of morphing into early 90s death/thrash. The truth is, while this album doesn't take a huge jump into the past, there is enough old guard thrashing buried under Corpsegrinder's guttural ravings to put this in a slightly different league than Kill, which is the album that this tends to resemble in terms of its massive guitar sound and thick, bombastic drum production.

The first musical impression comes in the form of a highly chaotic cacophony of notes and grunts otherwise known as "High Velocity Impact Splatter". Things begin with an extended intro of layered guitar noise that somewhat resembles how "Meat Hook Sodomy" kicks off this band's seminal sophomore album, but what follows is far more advanced both technically and in terms of brutality. This is a song that is more recognizable as a purely death metal offering with frequent blast beats and blurring speed guitar work, almost to the point of being tech. at times. Similar fits of more modern tinged extremeness come about in the chunky ode to the fall of a depraved civilization and title song "A Skeletal Domain" and the somewhat atmospherically tinged but still massively brutal "Funeral Cremation". In essence, these are the sorts of unabashed fits of pure brutality that most tend to expect from CC post 1991.

Where things get truly interesting is when this album shifts into a more thrashing and ironically conservative take on things. "Sadistic Embodiment" all but jumps down one's throat with it's overt Reign In Blood tendencies, cruising at a comparable tempo and feel of said album's most intense moments, and outdoing it in the brutality department by upping the ante on the amount of notes crammed into each riff, though there are a few points such as the intro riff where this listens a lot more like a thrash song circa 1985-86. A few other songs touch similar territory, such as "Headlong Into Carnage" which has a riff set that almost sounds Bay Area oriented at times, and also the chaotic thrasher "Icepick Lobotomy". It's songs like these that make the album flow a bit better and provides some contrast to the blast happy numbers, which have tended to obscure this band's self-professed Slayer influences to a heavy degree.

There's no shortage of complementary things that can be said about how this album is executed. Vocally it's a bit one-dimensional compared to the genre-splicing, schizophrenic vocalizations that tend to characterize modern death metal offshoots of late, but musically there's a great deal going on here. One particularly point of interest where things are a good deal stronger than the past couple albums has been the signature guitar solo sections, which have a needed degree of prevalence in the mix and has a biting tone that reminds heavily of a mid 80s thrash feel. It might be belaboring the point a bit, but it truly sounds like CC has turned the clock back a bit, possibly in reaction to the growing interest in older school death metal spurred by revival acts like Skeletal Remains and resurgent never-quite-were types such as Entrails. But whatever the reason behind the shift that took place here, it's a very welcome one, and has resulted in an album that's the best since The Bleeding. Ah screw it, I'll say it. Fire up the Chainsaw!!!

FIRE UP THE yeah you get it by now - 83%

BastardHead, September 20th, 2014

Fucking hell I'm gonna keep this one short because god damn. Really, there's only so much to be said about Cannibal Corpse at this point, this is just all in a days work for these guys. I'm of the persuasion that they've been at their creative peak ever since Jack left and the lineup of Corpsegrinder, Pat, Rob, Alex, and Paul was solidified back around 2005, releasing the monumental Kill the next year. Rolling on eight years with that lineup, they've given us their fourth offering to show what the chemistry between these five guys can produce. And surprise, surprise, it's really god damned good.

Everybody knows what Cannibal sounds like nowadays, they've been pretty consistent since Butchered at Birth twenty three years ago, with only a few dips in songwriting here and there. Their style itself has been steadfast in it's execution since then, primarily being described best as "bludgeoning". The more I think about it, that term really does describe everything they do perfectly. The fast thrashy songs that Rob writes like "Shatter Their Bones", the obscenely technical stuff that Pat lays down like "Frantic Disembowelment", the groovy crushers like "Decency Defied" and "Death Walking Terror", all of them are just brutish, neanderthalic clubbings to the dome. No matter the tempo, no matter the angle, Cannibal just approaches with a sinister malice and a vicious intensity.

A Skeletal Domain changes none of that. The album begins on a high note with the greatest CC song title of all time with "High Velocity Impact Spatter", and the song itself lives up to the standard the title sets for itself. I wish I could sit here and tell you about how this is Cannibal Corpse stepping up to the next level and being more technical or more brutal than ever before, but really that'd be lying. This is all exactly what you expect it to be, which makes it pretty much as great as you were expecting as well. In all honesty, this is actually probably a small step down from Torture, considering the fact that it has far fewer clear highlights. It's just a very solid slab of primitive-yet-technical death metal from start to finish, excepting one track. "Kill or Become" is probably the best fucking song they've written since Bloodthirst. It's one of those magical tracks that just reaches a perfect nexus between the prominent facets of their identity. It's blisteringly fast, it's crazy technical, and it's infectiously groovy. The vocal pattern in the chorus is so ear catching, I can't even think of a stupid analogy to describe it. There's a reason so many reviewers and fans have been quoting it since the release, it really is far and away the best thing they've laid to tape in ages.

FIRE UP THE CHAINSAAAAAW
HACK THEIR FUCKING HEADS OOOOOFF

There are scattered high points like "Icepick Lobotomy" and "Bloodstained Cement" here and there, but I can't really tell you what sets them apart from the rest. The album rests on a very high plateau for the whole runtime and the songs are all basically just indistinguishable but all awesome. Actually, if there's any reason A Skeletal Domain deserves less acclaim than its predecessors, it's that it's actually the first time a Cannibal Corpse album is finally too homogenous. I mean, there aren't any thrashmelting blastfests under two minutes like "Scalding Hail" or "Savage Butchery", nor are there any really obvious mid tempo stompy mosh numbers like "Evisceration Plague" or "Scourge of Iron", nor even the really slow, twisting eerie tracks they'd sometimes do like "From Skin to Liquid" or "Festering in the Crypt" (though admittedly "Funeral Cremation" does sort of flirt with the idea early on before going into the technical riff frenzy the band is known for). This album instead is full of that standard song that noobs and idiots accuse them of writing a thousand times in a row, so in a way it's actually the first album of theirs where people can accurately make that criticism of how they have no variety and just rip themselves off.

But with that said, it doesn't bother this reviewer in the slightest because I've always loved what Cannibal Corpse does. I think they do it brilliantly well and I wouldn't change a thing about them. For once, it's a valid criticism (even though I could also turn around and say that this is also an album where Pat's writing is really obvious, as there are a lot of dissonant banging parts that don't sound too dissimilar from Nevermore's The Politics of Ecstacy, if you imagine the tone and context being different), but it's one that doesn't affect me at all, regardless of the fact that I acknowledge it. This is just another in a steady stream of strong Cannibal Corpse albums and I really wouldn't ask for anything else. It's still not as good as Kill, Torture, or Bloodthirst, but I'd feel confident at least putting it on par with Evisceration Plague.


Originally written for Lair of the Bastard

Headlong into Awesome - 95%

CarrionSculptedEntity, September 19th, 2014

A Skeletal Domain isn’t likely to convert haters or provide a case against accusations of being "too consistent" (whatever the fuck that means), but Cannibal Corpse are back in full stride and already-fans won’t be disappointed. This album has a thrashier sound than past works, and the best production to date (sorry not sorry, Rutan). One of the biggest improvements with respect to production are Corpsegrinder’s vocals; there's no scratchiness and they just sound so fucking powerful. Songs like "Headlong into Carnage", "Bloodstained Cement" and the title track really put Corpsegrinder in the spotlight.

"High Velocity Impact Spatter" boasts not only the best track name, but one of the catchiest, most badass technical riffs ever beginning around 2:30. The song has Gore Obsessed written all over it. "Sadistic Embodiment" is the thrashiest song the band has ever written with its blazing riffs and ultra fast tempo. Pure Slayer worship. I can't help but shout along as Corpsegrinder belches, "...TO OBLITERATE ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WOOORRRLLLDDD..." "Kill or Become" is perhaps the strongest track on the album, sure to be a live hit with its anthemic, blood-boiling chorus, killer riffs and thick, razing basslines. My favorite moment is the quasibreakdown at 2:20. The title track is a contender for strongest song on the album, with evil Evisceration Plague-esque riffs and a vocal performance to rival that of "Demented Aggression" off Torture. The song is a testament to the unmatched endurance of Corpsegrinder. "Headlong into Carnage" is a juggernaut of a track, never letting up its momentum and employing a super catchy vocal pattern with relentless riffage. The feeling this one evokes is best summated by the song's own lyrics: "Merciless and brutal, take your head off of your neck" indeed. This is my personal favorite off the album.

"The Murderer's Pact" is the longest song here, but not a single second is wasted on wankery of any sort. This is a groove abomination showcasing the kind of maturity that one could only expect from veterans of Cannibal Corpse's caliber. The riffs in this song will truly leave you with a hammer smashed face. "Funeral Cremation" lives up to its name in employing perhaps the doomiest riff ever out of these guys that just fucking decimates everything. "Icepick Lobotomy" is "Sarcophagic Frenzy Part II", a blitzer employing a similar main riff and a breakdown that will result in your "CRANIAL PENETRAAATIIIOOOOONNN."

"Vector of Cruelty" is to this album as "Rabid" was to Torture; slower in tempo with a super groovy and catchy chorus, you'll have this one stuck in your head for days. "Bloodstained Cement" is another personal favorite, featuring in my opinion the best riffs of the album and most pulverizing vocals ever from Corpsegrinder. You won’t take shit off anyone ever again after listening to this song. "Asphyxiate to Resuscitate" has one of the most vivid choruses in death metal history, forcing you to witness the asphyxiation and resuscitation of a hapless victim in perpetuity. "Hollowed Bodies" is textbook Corpse and kind of retro, sounding as though it could've been on any album post-Vile/pre-Kill. It also features the most hilarious (and/or lazily written) lyrics of any song on the album; e.g., "13 more corpses are found / 13 miles exactly south / 26 more to the north / 2 stacks of 13 humans / 13 miles apart from one another / in a line..." but this is the kind of shit that makes me love Cannibal Corpse even more.

On the whole, A Skeletal Domain is business as usual for The Corpse; on par with Torture, but employing a chuggier/thrashier riffing style and better production.

A Skeletal Domain - 92%

Twin_guitar_attack, September 17th, 2014

Few, if any, death metal groups have ever entered the public conciousness as much as Cannibal Corpse. Shocking audiences with their violent album covers and lyrics in the early days of death metal, they’ve maintained their status as one of the genre greats through consistently delivering music that’s blisteringly heavy yet technical, and through being one of the most intense live bands in the genre too, regularly touring around the world. A Skeletal Domain is the thirteenth album in the group’s extensive catalogue and it’s absolutely vicious. After the fantastic Kill in 2006, the following albums Evisceration Plague and Torture were good releases, but comparatively unspectacular, but this new one sees them knocking it up a notch and delivering one of the band’s best releases to date. Fantastic song writing, flat out intensity and great technical musicianship make A Skeletal Domain a force to be reckoned with.

All the staples of the Cannibal Corpse sound are present, from the vicious barks of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, to the explosive sound of Alex Webster’s bass twang, furious technical riffage and the unrelenting pounding drum barrage – to say the band break new ground with this release would be lying. But what they do achieve is pushing their particular sound forward to the point where it’s all but perfected. With the production creating an intense wall of barbaric sound, the release is insanely vicious from start to finish, and doesn’t let up.

What’s also impressive is how tight the band are, the musicianship is so technical, while the chemistry between them means the overall effect is heightened – this is methodical murder rather than sloppy splatter. Corpsegrinder’s voice is fantastic as ever, his bark is so evil sounding and furious with those tremendously low, powerful growls and the speed of his delivery at points is incredible, particularly on Sadistic Embodiment. The way his vocals change depending on the music is great too, speedily spitting the lyrics over the faster sections, or bellowing slowly and menacingly when the music slows, its a typically great and varied performance. The way the riffs play between the vocal lines is fantastic, showing great song writing, especially on Kill or Become. And when it comes to the guitars they’re perfect through the album, never a pedestrian riff or dull breakdown, those fast, furious churning riffs are completely oppressive, while the stomp of the pounding slower riffs are no less menacing and evil. For all the brilliance of their chunky riffs the lead guitar is equally brilliant, the freneticism of their slayer influenced wah-fuelled solos adds that extra intensity. Alex Webster not only has one of the best bass tones in metal, with each note sounding like an explosion with it’s deep rumble, but he’s also one of the most talented, with his technical fast playing creating a grinding potency. The sound of the blasting drums is so heavy it feels that each hit of the skins is akin to being punched in the face.

Enough has been said about their intensity, but they’re not one of those bands which are all heaviness and no substance, their song writing is fantastic, with so many hooks and brilliant riffs, lots of them keep playing in your head long after the album finishes, while the vocal lines and choruses are equally memorable and catchy, especially on Kill or Become and Sadistic Embodiment. As a whole across A Skeletal Domain there are no useless filler tracks and they all slay, but there are a few highlights. The all out intense heaviness in that churning low pitched maelstrom of riff heavy sound in Headlong into Carnage is as thrilling as that blistering solo, while the furious barks on Asphyxiate to Resuscitate are so abrasive it feels they’re taking the skin right off your face. Bloodstained Cement is an all out riff-fest of epic proportions, but the best of the bunch is Kill or Become, the fantastic vocals and the way they interplay with the brilliant riffs is phenomenal.

Ultimately A Skeletal Domain is another fantastic album from the death metal veterans that shows despite 13 releases in a 26 career they’re still capable of delivering fresh sounding, incredibly heavy music that’s asintense as head butting a landmine. Cannibal Corpse fans will not be disappointed.

Originally written for swirlsofnoise.com

Firing up the Chainsaws of Torture - 90%

Tengan, September 16th, 2014

My main question before the release of ‘A Skeletal Domain’, Cannibal Corpse’s 13th full-length, was if they could come even close to its monstrous predecessor ‘Torture’? The 2012 effort showed the band reaching its peak in the Corpsegrinder-era after a few flicks in the beginning before reaching a consistent quality, slowly evolving their sound in a slightly more technical direction. Are the Floridians up to the task of matching their late-era highlight? The answer is simple: Cannibal Corpse has fired up their chainsaws to cut your f**king head of and chow their gore, horror and filth directly down your throat!

As a fan of the band you know very well what to expect of a new Cannibal Corpse album and ‘A Skeletal Domain’ comes with no big surprises, brutality and technicality the classical Cannibal Corpse way being the agenda here along with some latter-era catchiness in ‘Kill or Become’. Mazurkiewicz’s drumming flows as easy as always between tempo changes, hooks and twists with the occasional oddly placed hits. Webster rumbles on with bass lines that tend to live a life of its own, coherent with the other instruments, but out of a different world at the same time. The bass has been given an exemplary audible position in the mix, anything else for the top bass player in death metal would have been close to punishable. It does however suffer from a poor production job being way too hollow for my taste and deserves better. Apart from this flaw, which is the only main flaw of the album really, the mix and production is great. Unmistakeably modern in its clarity it puts the brutality forth in a stripped way resembling the bands earliest efforts. Many of their contemporaries fall in the easy wall-of-sound-trap to achieve this brutal feeling, the intrinsic brutality of ‘A Skeletal Domain’ comes to life on its own.

O’Brien’s and Barrett’s guitar work follow their usual intense yet catchy and technical style with deadly riffs intertwined with contagious twists and hooks. A few tremolo lines here topped with an arpeggio pick there and a varied selection of solos, some being screaming Slayer-esque and some being upright Autopsy-eerie, does the trick as many times before to balance the brutal and technical. The technical twists and turns in ‘Asphyxiate to Resuscitate’ are simply mind-blowing. The cherry on the cake of gore, Corpsegrinder’s vocals, follow their usual guttural and well-pronounced style as if he was still recording ‘Vile’. So, business as usual in the Cannibal Corpse-camp? Yes, but also no. The foundation of ‘A Skeletal Domain’ is firmly rooted in the bands past, but some new tricks have slipped out of their collective sleeves. Some tunes, most notably the title track, has an eerie horror-flick feeling to them rather than the classic all gore in your face feeling. Think a less epic version of Vader’s ‘Tibi Et Igni’ meets Autopsy and you get the picture. Some tunes on the other hand bears a distinct thrash garb, for instance ‘Sadistic Embodiment’, that makes the bands 1990 debut ‘Eaten Back to Life’ spring to mind. These grips give an extra dimension of variation to an otherwise dynamic and well-flowing album.

The album cover signed Vincent Locke, who else, reflects those feelings of horror from the first time you snuck away to your mate to see that movie your parents banned you from watching until you turned 45. The lyrics follow the usual gory theme, but the cover art has moved a long way from the upfront gore and filth of the early days. Cannibal Corpse no longer wants to stick blood, zombies and censorship fuel right up your face, they want to get under your skin and deliver horror, pain and bodily fluids from within.

Closing track ‘Hollowed Bodies’ builds up that album cover feeling of being trapped in a field of ravenous undead eager to tear you apart, then simply implodes leaving you desolate, helpless and eager for another round. Cannibal Corpse has fired up their chainsaws, gives no quarter and delivers ‘album of the year’ material.


Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com

Fire up the Chainsaw - 85%

GuntherTheUndying, September 16th, 2014

Just another day at the office for Cannibal Corpse—murder, lunch, go home and sleep. “A Skeletal Domain” is no surprise, sticking strictly to the weapons seen on “Torture” and other Corpsegrinder-era Cannibal Corpse records, but if the hammer hasn’t lost its might, why not smash some bones? Thirteen albums in and the dudes are still peeling off slabs of ravenous, frenzied death metal bursting with the band’s many gory motifs and peculiarities. I will say “A Skeletal Domain” falls a little short of “Torture,” a top-five Cannibal Corpse album in my opinion, yet there is no disputing that the guys are far from running out of the riffs and song structures that fuel their terrific brand of carnage. This is splendid work; another pretty cadaver for the dead human collection.

I think critics of the band tend to overlook the flexibility of Cannibal Corpse’s dynamics. The many individual quirks of the unit have explored a number of explosive avenues that, while universally chained to the Cannibal Corpse identity, enable the group to create these anthems of noteworthy gravity. “A Skeletal Domain” is technical structurally yet far from pompous. There is seemingly no end to the monstrous grooves and grinding sequences flirting with an edge of complication in the guitar work; Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien have a bottomless bag of stellar riffs. The rhythm section, much like “Kill” or “Torture,” is absolutely essential to the success of “A Skeletal Domain,” with Alex Webster’s bass plucking under the carnage and Paul Mazurkiewicz adding value to the madness with his unique mid-paced blast beats and stellar rhythmic play. Same scene, different victim.

Cannibal Corpse’s supreme skill is consistency, however. These twelve songs ebb and flow across the mid-paced and the complex, the ball never dropped. The record hits its high point pretty early on with “Kill or Become,” which is a perfect amalgamation of every facet of the Cannibal Corpse grinder working together—catchy, brutal, chaotic, explosive—while George Fisher shrieks what is possibly the best lyrical sequence of any Cannibal Corpse tune ever: “FIRE UP THE CHAINSAW! HACK THEIR FUCKING HEADS OFF!” It’s the clear winner, but it fits perfectly after having flirted with technical elements on “High Velocity Impact Spatter” and Slayer worship on “Sadistic Embodiment,” both of which are real biters. Have to mention the huge grooves and that sweeping solo throughout “The Murderer’s Pact” and ultra-vehement lashings like “Icepick Lobotomy,” “Hollowed Bodies,” and the pulverizing “Bloodstained Cement” as standouts.

But honestly, “A Skeletal Domain” never runs on empty; it’s a scorcher from A to Z. I don’t notice too much of a difference regarding the sound quality (Mark Lewis produced the album, replacing Erik Rutan, who had done the dirty work on “Kill” through “Torture”). The ball lands in a familiar ballpark, but who cares? Cannibal Corpse is Cannibal Corpse, and “A Skeletal Domain” is a typical Cannibal Corpse record: high on great songs and gore, low on filler and the unmemorable. The thirteenth headstone in this land beyond the cemetery racks up the goods, much similar to “Kill” and “Torture” in its precision and execution. In the end, “A Skeletal Domain” sounds exactly how any death metal journeymen will picture it, and it comes away winning over the carved-out hearts. An abattoir’s delight.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com