REVIEW: CANNIBAL CORPSE – “Violence Unimagined”
When you talk about established extreme Death Metal acts, there are fewer more renowned than Cannibal Corpse. The American quartet have been a mainstay in the genre, and have created a legacy that is unparalleled. While controversy has never been too far away from the band’s image, their unrelenting dedication to their craft and their commitment to their art has seen them successfully navigate through a career founded on unwavering brutality for over three decades. This dedication and commitment have led the band towards the release of their upcoming 15th studio album, Violence Unimagined.
It’s crazy to think that after 15 albums that this band still asserts their dominance from their opening track. Much like Only One Will Die from their previous album, Murderous Rampage really brings the album on with a bang. This unrelenting ferocity carries throughout the entire runtime and as expected, never lets up. There are some nuances between songs, alternating between grindcore elements and stereotypical death metal, but there are no genre-bending tracks that would surprise long-time listeners. Most people know what they are getting with a Cannibal Corpse album, and Violence Unimagined brings that in droves. I guess you could say that formula hasn’t really changed, but the execution certainly has. These songs have a very familiar feel, but also an added proficiency and polish to them that is sure to entertain. While more fringe Cannibal Corpse fans might not be able to distinguish Violence Unimagined from saying Bloodthirst, the more hardcore fans certainly will.
Violence Unimagined is a big step forward for the band. As the first album for over two decades to not feature guitarist Pat O’Brien on lead guitar, there is obviously a ton of anticipation to see how the dynamic has changed with the newest member Erik Rutan — and let’s just say that the inclusion of Rutan cannot be overstated. While he may have been in the band’s orbit for some time, having been producer on four of their previous albums, his contributions on guitar breathe new life into what has arguably become a very consistent sound for the band over the years. There is a distinct groove brought to tracks like Condemnation Contagion and Inhumane Harvest, and some excellent melody injected into the likes of Necrogenic Resurrection and Bound and Burned, that really cement Rutan’s inclusion in the band. On top of this, the interplay between Rutan and rhythm guitarist Rob Barrett is effortless and leaves you with one of the best death metal guitar performances in recent memory.
Allowing the guitars to shine is a pounding bass section, with Alex Webster’s chugging bass guitar and Paul Mazurkiewicz’s persistent drum blasts propelling all other elements of the music to greater heights. Obviously, this duo’s performances have been a crushing mainstay over the years, but if you were to take their performances from this album and compare it to say, Red Before Black before it, you can recognize that there has been growth over the past four years with these sections just hitting you that little bit harder. With Mazurkiewicz claiming that he pushed further than before on this record, it’s very easy to see why the bass section still hits as hard as it does.
Finally, capping out the performances is none other than George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, whose vocals on the album are absolutely colossal. While there has been a steady growth in his delivery over the years, the enunciation and ferocity of his guttural bellows bring these songs to life and help really drive home the instrumental side of the album. Lyrically, the album fits all the macabre tropes which the band continually hits, but Fisher’s delivery just gives them a darker and more sinister edge. It’s crazy to think that a band that has such a long career as Cannibal Corpse have been able to sing these short horror stories for over three decades now, but while they keep serving it up in a manner that keeps us all coming back for more, why shouldn’t they?
Production-wise the album is superb. The levels afforded to each of the instruments allow them to shine at their own times, and nothing ever feels muddied or murky in the overall mix. Death Metal is quite hard to get right, but Violence Unimagined manages to hit all the right facets on its production side.
If Red Before Black was self-described by the band as their best work to date, then Violence Unimagined should definitely be described as the point which welcomes the band’s second coming of their career. This album shows a band at the top of their game performing at a level which many could only hope to achieve. Technically proficient, hard-hitting, and ferociously heavy, Violence Unimagined leaves an indelible impression on the senses that is sure to impart itself on fans the world over.