Cannibal Corpse

Violence Unimagined

Written by: RUB on 18/05/2021 13:12:34

If you are reading this, there is a pretty huge chance that you have previously encountered Cannibal Corpse one way or another. Even if you are not into death metal, you might have heard a track or two by this iconic troop without knowing that they still exist. I, for one, love everything about Cannibal Corpse, and although their latest releases have been rather forgettable in my book, I had an inkling that this latest offering “Violence Unimagined” could be a turning point. After losing longtime member and lead guitarist Pat O’Brien, things did look slightly dire for the band, but after the renowned Erik Rutan joined their ranks as a permanent replacement, I could not help but feel pretty excited about this record. Fifteen full-lengths down the road, it seems like the Floridians from Tampa can still find new ways to growl about gore, death and torture, and with Rutan wielding the lead axe, I started spinning the record as soon as it was released.

If you stuck around for this long, you might actually enjoy Cannibal Corpse as much as me, and just to address the elephant in the room: no, of course Rutan joining them did not affect their style or sound. Not the least bit. The group still sounds as aggressive and brutal as ever, and both the brilliant drumming of Paul Mazurkiewicz, the audible and thick bass lines of Alex Webster, and the charismatic grunts of the one and only George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher are still very much part of their soundscape. As the album opener “Murderous Rampage” suggests, the music on “Violence Unimagined” is exactly what us fans are used to hearing from them. But in all fairness, who in their right mind would expect Cannibal Corpse to change after so many years of barking up the same tree? Indeed, “Murderous Rampage” sounds just like any other Cannibal Corpse track — nothing more, nothing less. It is a good way to kick things off, and it even has some pretty sweet guitar hooks and, perhaps most noticeably, various changes in tempo, which makes this first effort a pretty decent one. The same thing goes for “Necrogenic Resurrection”, the first definitive Webster track. With a massive breakdown after roughly 1 minute and 30 seconds, there should be no excuse for banging your head deep into oblivion, yet the track still manages to pack some rhythms at breakneck speed as well, so what’s not to like?

The first definitive highlight of the album arrives with the lead single and third song “Inhumane Harvest”. Originally, what got me excited about this release was the fact this track seems to contain pretty much every aspect of what I love about Cannibal Corpse. Written by rhythm guitarist Rob Barrett, it showcases that it is not like the group lost the ability to write killer tracks prior to Rutan joining them. A blazing beginning changes into a very headbang-friendly, rhythmic, and slow-paced piece that takes the listener right back into moshpit madness. The structure is clear and customarily Cannibal Corpse-like, but compared to the two previous tracks, it just works better here. Following this is first track written by newcomer Rutan. “Condemnation Contagion” rolls right off the tongue, and it truly shows what a great songsmith that man is. Especially the riffs – he is a guitarist after all — boast both that special buzzing guitar sound familiar to any Cannibal Corpse fan, but also some witty and clever structures in terms of how the riffs interplay. This generally mid-tempo song works well with Corpsegrinder’s deep and guttural growls, which should make this a fantastic candidate to become a staple of concert setlists to come. Mid-tempo tracks such as this one, with sudden blasts and bursts of extremity, are really where Cannibal Corpse excels.

What should be clear by now is how the entire band (apart from Corpsegrinder actually) writes lyrics and music that is very alike. This collective approach is a nice way to ensure the group does not end up running out of ideas, whilst also giving each track its own style and structure. This makes the album as a whole feel varied, covering various aspects of the death metal genre without coming across as generic or dull. This is what Cannibal Corpse have succeeded with pretty well on “Violence Unimagined” compared to the previous two albums, and it is the same thing that made their older stuff, “Kill” and “Torture”, absolutely slaying albums in my book.

In general, the best tracks on offer here are spread out equally throughout the entire record. As should already be clear, not all of them manage to stand out, and some of them are even quite forgettable (“Surround, Kill, Devour” apart from the chorus, “Ritual Annihilation”, even though it’s written by Rutan, and “Cerements of the Flayed” come to mind), but luckily one never gets the feeling that there are outright terrible tracks on display like on the latest album by the former Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes’ outfit Six Feet Under — yuck. Apart from the tracks already highlighted – even towards the end the likes of “Follow the Blood”, “Bound and Burned” and “Overtorture” are definitely above-average bangers, underlining how creativity and knack at writing modern, fresh and hard-hitting death metal is still very much an integral part of Cannibal Corpse as a band.

What some might call repetitive and generic – again, fifteen albums down the line — I will thus contrarily dub fresh as well as a step in the right direction. With “A Skeletal Domain” and “Red Before Black” from 2014 and 2017 respectively in my recent memory, I had a feeling Cannibal Corpse had run out of ideas, and truth be told, I found both those records dull except for perhaps a song or two. With several amazing releases in their discography though, it is hard to outdo yourself every time — yet with “Violence Unimagined”, I definitely feel like the band has managed to turn things around. Does this mean this is end of the year list material? Sadly, no. But it does contain more than enough great material for it to be way above all the run of the mill stuff this genre likes to spit out, so every death metal connoisseur should feel reassured that the group’s future is still in good hands even though O’Brien is no longer a part of the band.

Download: Inhumane Harvest, Condemnation Contagion, Bound and Burned, Overtorture, Follow the Blood
For the fans of: Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Obituary, Six Feet Under, Suffocation
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.04.2021
Metal Blade Records

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