After delivering over three decades of audible torment to the masses and constructing an entire empire of brutality from the ground up, I think it’s safe to say that Cannibal Corpse has earned their title as the almighty kings of death metal. Not only does the band date back to the earlier days of the genre’s development, but due to the instrumental capabilities of every member who has contributed to what began back in 1988, the sonic characteristics of Cannibal Corpse have continued to evolve into something faster, heavier, and more gut-churning with every release since.
Through the violently graphic illustrations provided by longtime artist Vince Locke and the repulsive, yet imaginative storytelling, the band’s elements of blood and gore continue to intensify every appalling narrative across their collection of butchery. Whether it be the raw and untamed nature of the Barnes-era or the pulverizing death blow of the current Corpsegrinder reign, consistency has been at the core of the bands ever-expanding empire of horror.
Continuously reinventing each album around creative new ways to kill or be killed, Cannibal Corpse continue their mission to spread global devastation through the dominant beast that is Violence Unimagined. Marking the band’s fifteenth release through Metal Blade Records, the upcoming terror embodies every horrendous characteristic we’ve come to love about this band and then some. Instrumentally unstoppable and visually indescribable, Violence Unimagined sees Cannibal Corpse entering the post-pandemic world as the colossal conquerors of death metal.
It also sees the addition of extreme metal legend Erik Rutan stepping up to fill the large shoes of former guitarist Pat O’Brien, as the full-time lead guitarist. The longtime friend of the band, producer of five of the last six CC albums (including Violence Unimagined), and founder/guitarist/vocalist of Hate Eternal, undoubtedly came equipped with a stockpile of wrathful riffs to contribute.
By now, a listener can always expect these veterans to make a statement with every opening number, whether it be “Savage Butchery” off of my personal favorite Gore Obsessed or the celebrated “Hammer Smashed Face” off of Tomb of the Mutilated. Every Cannibal Corpse album introduction is meant to be turbulently obliterating, and revved-up thrasher “Murderous Rampage” is no exception. Although there is nothing necessarily out of the ordinary here, this relentless opener paves the way for some serious corpse-ripping carnage.
The mayhem continues with the frantic and well-rounded Cannibal track, “Necrogenic Resurrection.” Erupting into utter heaviness midway through, this track highlights a specific element of this band that I’ll always appreciate as a Slayer fan. No matter how much these guys represent death metal, they always create opportunities to break out into these erratic King/Hanneman style solos.
Raw thrash components that have contributed to this band’s sound since the beginning, drive you right into the irresistibly heavy and crushing lead single, “Inhumane Harvest.” Corpsegrinder belts out the vocal line “EVERYTHING MUST GO” over a hammering groove that absolutely demands every bit of your attention.
Though the album starts off on a fast note, it’s around the middle where the songwriting power really pounds you into dust. The mid-paced and in-your-face heaviness of “Condemnation Contagion,” pairs scourging riffs with wild and untamed drum fills from founding member Paul Mazurkiewicz.
While the grooving riff fest that is “Surround, Kill, Devour,” hits with a “Compelled to Lacerate” (Gore Obsessed) sort of feel, the Bloodthirst-y “Ritual Annihilation” fully haunts and punishes all who listen. These two bludgeoning tracks serve as highlights not only for Violence Unimagined, but for Cannibal Corpse, period.
A new usage of heavy tools and transitions make “Follow The Blood” another dynamic and stand out track. A prowler that employs a stalking pace and beefy guitar chords. Things that prompted me to raise an eyebrow here were both the refreshing lead solo layering, and founding member/bassist Alex Webster’s supernatural ability to go off course with dexterous fills of his own. These elements combined, plus Mazurkiewicz’s continued drum fill proficiency, reinvigorate old tactics and add new twists to the members’ collective playing style.
From the lacerating string work in “Slowly Sawn” to the relentless chugging and spine-splitting conclusion of “Cerements of the Flayed,” Cannibal Corpse hack, maim, and hammer their way towards the dawn of a new era.
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher is as consistent and guttural sounding as ever, with a growl that fails to ever falter, not even in the slightest. From a writing and instrumental standpoint, founding members Paul Mazurkiewicz and Alex Webster are at the top of their game, both equally firing off over the course of this album. Lastly, Rob Barrett and Erik Rutan work together to not only provide a barrage of riffage and refreshing leads, but completely elevate the overall nature of this band’s songwriting.
Fifteen albums later and Cannibal Corpse continue to showcase an unrivaled dedication to sickness, offering 11 new horrifying tracks that bring their level of violence to heights unimagined.
Pre-order Violence Unimagined here.