Artist: Cannibal Corpse

Album Title: Red Before Black

Label: Metal Blade Records

Date Of Release: 3 November 2017

As much as I like heavy metal with melody, sophistication and originality, there are times when only a blast of brutal savagery will do. And when I’m in this kind of unforgiving mood, there are few better bands to turn to than Cannibal Corpse.

It feels like Cannibal Corpse have been around forever, but in fact, it has only been 29 years. Rather depressingly, I am older than the New York death metal veterans. During their near three-decade life, the quintet has released no fewer than thirteen records, with ‘Red Before Black’ their fourteenth. And, like some kind of machine of the underworld, each album has delivered the same kind of vile, debauched and utterly uncompromising death metal. A couple of releases might have fallen a little shy of the mark, but overall, the quality control has been high, meaning that they remain one of the most enduring and best-selling death metal bands on the planet. Hell, they even bagged a guest slot on the awesome ‘Ace Ventura, Pet Detective’.

My childish side absolutely loves the penchant that Cannibal Corpse has for graphic song titles. And happily, with cuts like ‘Shedding My Human Skin’, ‘Remaimed’ and my personal favourite, ‘Heads Shoveled Off’, I’m pleased to report that this album is no different. It seems that age is not dimming the bands’ collective savagery. Mind you, one look at the album cover and any thoughts of the Americans softening will have been immediately expunged.

Musically, ‘Red Before Black’ merely underlines my previous point, because it contains twelve of the most intensely brutal and sick death metal compositions you’ll have heard this year. Mind you, with a line-up that has seen very few changes over the years and none for well over a decade, are you really surprised? Bassist Alex Webster, drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, guitarists Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien, and vocalist George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher are a group of musicians that remain hungry and mean business.


Within the first few seconds of ‘Only One Will Die’, this becomes patently clear. The riffs scythe, the drums pummel, the bass rumbles menacingly and Fisher sounds as angry and possessed as ever. Did I mention the riffs? The groove from Messrs Barrett and O’Brien is intoxicating and the blistering leads are as insane as you’d want and expect them to be.

I have been known to get bored from time to time when listening to this kind of relentless bludgeoning but Cannibal Corpse are consummate professionals at this stage of their career and they deftly manage to stave off any notion of monotony or apathy on my part by continually delivering material that keeps me engaged. Much of this has to do with the frequent changes of pace both between and within the compositions. From lightning fast to slow and deliberate, ‘Red Before Black’ delivers it all.

I can’t help but smile cruelly at ‘Code Of The Slashers’; the slower, more deliberately crushing opening section allows the guitars to unleash their devastating and crushing tones, whilst the rhythm section of Mazurkiewicz and Webster add their own ponderous flavour. And on top of it all, Corpsegrinder offers a malicious and caustic diatribe as is his strength. The groove continues within ‘Shedding My Human Skin’, albeit at a more increased tempo, whilst the air of discordance hangs over the guitar lead notes thereby injecting an even more sinister edge to the track.

The title track is an unrelenting blitzkrieg of ferocious speed and untamed barbarity whilst there is the merest of hints at something approaching accessibility within ‘Firestorm Vengeance’. It remains heavy as hell, but the foot is taken off the accelerator at times and there’s the whiff of a twisted melody or two within the composition.

The opening to ‘Remaimed’ is another high point in my opinion, as the guitars plummet to new depths , powerful and low enough in frequency to set the Earth’s tectonic plates to moving. It’s like listening to the sounds from the dark, piteous pits of hell itself – it’s deliciously evil and I love it!

The grind of ‘Corpus Delicti’ is very satisfying, as are the lead breaks that feature within it; they might be slower and more deliberate in delivery, but they still pack a punch. As does the closer, ‘Hideous Ichor’ which manages to inject a sense of the epic and sprawling into proceedings, thus closing ‘Red Before Black’ in suitably arresting fashion.

In terms of pure, unadulterated death metal, 2017 has been quite a strong year. But Cannibal Corspe prove once again that they deserve to reside at the top table thanks to ‘Red Before Black’, an album which will take an awful lot to be shifted from the top of the pile at the fast-approaching years end. If your penchant is for brutal and extreme death metal, you’ll be delighted with the thunderous return of Cannibal Corpse.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9


If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:

2015 reviews
2016 reviews

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Impureza – La Caida De Tonatiuh
Auđn – Farvegir Fyrndar
Beast In Black – Berserker
Serenity – Lionheart
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King
Daydream XI – The Circus of the Tattered and Torn
CyHra – Letters To Myself
Devoid – Cup of Tears
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
Enslaved – E
Samael – Hegemony
Vuur – In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Power Quest – Sixth Dimension
Iris Divine – The Static And The Noise
Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome
White Moth Black Butterfly – Atone
Jag Panzer – The Deviant Chord
Vulture Industries – Stranger Times
Anubis Gate – Covered In Black
Protean Collective – Collapse
Cradle Of Filth – Cryproriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. – The Antithetic Affiliation
Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
Nocturnal Rites – Phoenix
Arch Enemy – Will To Power
Threshold – Legends Of The Shires
H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
Dyscarnate – With All Their Might
Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond
Adagio – Life
Paradise Lost – Medusa
The Haunted – Strength In Numbers
Serious Black – Magic
Leprous – Malina
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave
Prospekt – The Illuminated Sky
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Orden Ogan – Gunmen
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Anathema – The Optimist
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Dream Evil – Six
Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
Ayreon – The Source
Until Rain – Inure
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Ancient Ascendant
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
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Kreator – Gods Of Violence
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