Cannibal Corpse: Torture

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Cannibal Corpse: Torture
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Cannibal Corpse: Torture
Death Metal
Metal Blade Records
March 13th, 2012
Release length: 43:59
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There is absolutely no need to introduce Cannibal Corpse to anyone reading this review. If you are interested in Torture (the new album from this band, not the method), then chances are you already know of their existence. Easily one of the most, if not the most successful Death Metal group, Cannibal Corpse went back into the studio to record their twelfth full-length album, simply titled Torture. After twenty plus years together, has the band lost their edge, or is this another superb effort?

Anyone who has heard a Cannibal Corpse album since digital production and recording studios became the norm knows exactly what to expect. The guitars have a louder dirty mid-range edge to them backed by a very dominant bass guitar that shines through with a much deeper backing, but can sometimes show itself as an additional layer through some low twanging chords that stand out in rare circumstances, and guttural vocals that pack a great deal of energy with plenty of range behind them. The drums sound as strong as always with proper levels to each part. The cymbals are a little back in the mix, but still have a solid impact to them when hit hard enough, and when not still fill the music up nicely in a manner that the louder snares and obvious deeper bass kicks that feed into the already heavy and low-toned audio quality of the music clearly lack. All of these elements come through crisp, but after some time with the album its hard to say whether it some of the bite is lost due to this, or something else entirely.

Torture leaves very little room for the music between the two speeds it happens to move at, which are simply head bang and kill. This is how the album starts off, and makes up much of the material found on the release. “Demented Aggression” sets up the tone well with a decent amount of fast paced material that just hammers away at the listener, once in a while breaking into a mid-tempo head banging groove-filled passages. The track itself isn’t the most impressive, and like the others it just seems to favor utilizing a faster pace that never really leads anywhere too big to keep the listener attentive the whole time, but you simply cannot dispute the brutality that is brought into it. “Encased in Concrete” makes for another furious high speed assault, but this one doesn’t just seem to rely solely on material that is quite short of being blast beats. There also is an underlying groove to it, but really sticks to some more complex sounding material that just hammers away at the listener with some far better transitions, a few slower moments, and a nice heaviness that really milked the commanding aggression the band brought with them for this one.

Of course, what really stands out for the band are the groove-laced offerings, such as “Sarcophagic Frenzy” and “Crucifier Avenged,” among others. These tracks usually do go at a slower pace, but also happen to include that general brutality the faster cuts offer, and mix it nicely with an unnerving atmosphere that gives off an additional creepy sensation at times. The first of those two shows this well thanks to the chugging, commanding chords that carry a very serious tone, causing you to head bang along willingly. There also are some complex elements at times when the speed does pick up, leading to some sections where the twang of the bass clearly comes through, as well as ushers in passages slower than the main verses that just feel dismal and haunting. The latter of those two, however, really stands out with a charging, relentless, yet restrained in speed approach to it that takes concepts laid out by songs like “Encased in Concrete,” but adds a much needed groove to it that grabs the listener by the throat and shows why Cannibal Corpse is still one of the strongest acts in the Death Metal scene. The brutality is captured well thanks to the band never really letting up, and some of the shifts in sound, whether to a faster pace or back to the medium speed approach that makes up the track are all handled well and feel natural to the song.

There are plenty of other tracks here that stand out, though most of them happen to fall in the head bang category, and not so much the kill speed one, which speaks volumes considering the latter pace is what makes up much of this album. The high speed songs often just feel too repetitive to one another, don’t offer up as much variety in shifts to the music, and even lack solid transitions. Of the better stand-out tracks, “As Deep As the Knife Will Go” is a far slower one, but it doesn’t ease up at all with the brutality. The main verses sound a little open, but there are plenty of passages where the bass kicks of the drum kit really become pivotal to its success, especially in the faster sections that lose much of the groove except an underlying bit from the aforementioned part of the drums and snares. “The Strangulation Chair” follows this formula well, but it does actually feature a very brief bass solo that sounds really good, despite how it doesn’t quite fit in with the flow of the song. Finally, “Torn Through” ends the album on the same note that “Demented Aggression” started it on, but with this one there are better shifts in the music, and much of the songs actually feels like it is going somewhere. The track finds a heavy focus on the lead chords, and some of the twanging bass chords, to establish that unnerving atmosphere once more in a far more aggressive manner than “Sacrophagic Frenzy” had earlier on.

But, in the end, Torture kind of feels lacking thanks to some songs just not having the impact to energize you, or even make you want to head bang let alone start a circle pit with the nearest victims. Cannibal Corpse just sound exhausted, but still push on to write material they just didn’t have the strength to handle. Then again, it could also just be the recording and the crisp quality taking away from the experience, but it really doesn’t sound like it sterilized much of the bite. Whatever the reason, Torture doesn’t quite sound like the same Cannibal Corpse of today, and should be approached with expectations set a little lower than normal. Either way, those who hate the new material will hate this one regardless of what is said, and those who love it won’t care and buy it anyway.

01. Demented Aggression – 3:15
02. Sacrophagic Frenzy – 3:43
03. Scourge of Iron – 4:45
04. Encased in Conc rete – 3:14
05. As Deep As the Knife Will Go – 3:26
06. Intestinal Crank – 3:55
07. Followed Home Then Killed – 3:37
08. The Strangulation Chair – 4:10
09. Caged…Contorted – 3:54
10. Crucifier Avenged – 3:46
11. Rabid – 3:05
12. Torn Through – 3:12
Overall Score: 7/10
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Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records via Earsplit PR.