Let’s cut to the chase.
‘Red Before Black’ is album number 14 for the Floridian death metal veterans and doesn’t exhibit anything resembling a deviation from their established formula.
It’s a telling thing that many listeners will stick on the new Cannibal Corpse record solely to see if they’re in any way changing things up.
It’s practically the main motivator for the curious listener, with the band’s established reputation for dishing out a couple of good tracks to kick off an album and then auto piloting the rest of it.
That’s very much the case with this latest effort. The problem is that even the first couple of songs, decent as they are, are low-scoring on the Corpse satisfaction scale.
‘Only One Will Die’ is a decent opener, delivering a high-pitched tremolo work-out and buckets of Corpsegrinder roars and double kick. This is rapidly followed by fairly distinctive title track, which offers up a nicely crafted chorus.
From this point onwards, you could practically guess how the rest of the album goes, with only ‘Shedding My Human Skin’ offering up anything resembling distinctiveness.
Even the relative breathing space in the mix that 2014’s ‘A Skeletal Domain’ possessed is gone here, with the band has reuniting with Erik Rutan and opting for a thick, loud guitar tone that bulldozes any subtly out of proceedings.
Presumably, they were going for the same straight-forward impact that ‘Kill’ offered up. That record was probably the band’s latter day career highlight, offering short, catchy songs with an emphasis on quality. There’s little here that reflects that.
Even more depressingly, there seems to be an abundance of fast palm-muted chugging across the record. At times, like on the desperately uninspired ‘Firestorm Vengeance’, it sounds like there’s not even a willingness there to provide much in the way of riffs, but just to keep the tempo going.
It’s an odd moment too on ‘Skeleton Consuming Death’ (gonna consume something) when Alex Webster’s bass warbles out an indistinct solo section. When the other guitars chime in it just seems to underline the insipidness of it all.
Phoning It In
Cannibal Corpse still get attention because they’re a big name. Frustratingly, we know they can still write good songs – thanks to the scattered solid numbers across recent albums.
They are 100% phoning it in on this one though.
The performances are as proficient as ever, but if you’re hoping some a formula shake up, look elsewhere, because some actual creativity (like on the oft-cited and 19 years old ‘From Skin to Liquid’) just isn’t in the offing here.
This site recently gave the latest Cannabis Corpse a pretty good review. That record showed how hunger and a willingness to mix it up can result in some really enjoyable metal. It’s sad that the parody act is now producing better material than the original.
On the strength of this, even the couple of good songs you can usually count on from Cannibal are dipping in quality. Really, there’s a lot out there that should be put before ‘Red Before Black’.
2.3 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 01/11/17