Written by Alex Stojanovic
Only One Will Die
Red Before Black
Code Of The Slashers
Shedding My Human Skin
Heads Shoveled Off
Scavenger Consuming Death
In The Midst Of Ruin
Destroyed Without A Trace
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Label: Metal Blade Records
George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher - Vocals Pat O'Brien - Guitars Rob Barrett - Guitars
Alex Webster - Bass Paul Mazurkiewicz- Drums
As usual, no time is wasted at the start and the opening riff in "Only One Will Die" comes smashing you in the face without warning and it turns into a feast of destructive riffs, making it a great starting point for the record. The more thrashier direction taken on the title track puts nothing but a huge grin on my face, especially with the way the riffs still manage to groove at break-neck speed. Corpsegrinder's signature razor-sharp gutterals slice through Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett's riffs like razor blades, and are clearly showing no signs of wear and tear. After over 20 years of being in the band and 10 albums recorded with the band, Corpsegrinder still holds the title of the king of death metal vocalists. Some of the songs change in speed where you would think it would be a slow pounder, but they turn into complete thrash-fests right after. A couple of examples would be "Code Of The Slashers" and "Firestorm Vengeance". That's the thing with this album. There isn't a song here that doesn't contain a fast section.
For this album, Erik Rutan stepped back in for production duties. When comparing the production on Red Before Black to the band's previous Rutan-produced records, namely Torture and Evisceration Plague, the biggest improvement on this record is that Paul Mazurkiewicz's drums sound more up front and a little more powerful, whereas on the other two records I mentioned, the drum tones didn't seem to match with the intensity of the guitar tones. They managed to fix that issue on A Skeletal Domain and continued in that direction on this record. Cannibal Corpse are obviously no strangers to odd time signatures as they've used them a bunch over the years rather than just sticking to 4/4 all the time, and you will have no problem finding them in certain songs on this record. This always stands out for me because I'm a big fan of odd time signatures. Fear not, they're not going into progressive territory, and they never will.
Alex Webster gets a chance to shine on "Scavenger Consuming Death", but he doesn't go into his crazy bass fill world. Instead, he unleashes a nice and dirty, simple and smooth bass line that follows all the way through and supports a sledgehammer groove. Instead of getting one or two solos in a song, which is usually the norm with Cannibal Corpse, "In The Midst Of Ruin" and "Destroyed Without A Trace" contain a few more than expected. They're shorter of course, but towards the end of both tracks, there's the pattern of "vocal line, lead, vocal line, lead". Aside from the already crushing riffs, the seamless tempo changes make the songs even heavier. You can hear these types of transitions in songs like "Corpus Delicti" and "In The Midst Of Ruin".
The flaw with this album is that it sounds like the band are starting to recycle riffs from the past, which makes certain songs less interesting than others. Even though they're not bad songs, it does make some of us wonder how long will they be able to keep making the same type of record. For a long time, they've been able to make the same type of record and keep it fresh and exciting, but there's going to come a point where it starts to get boring. Even though it isn't that severe, this record seems to be a bit of a starting point of that, where select songs aren't as exciting as we hoped due to recycled riffs. We'll see what the future holds.
A Skeletal Domain is a perfect example of the band taking what they've done in the past and expanding on it a bit, and that's why it's one of the band's best records of the last decade. While it doesn't quite measure up to the songwriting quality of A Skeletal Domain, Torture and Kill, Red Before Black is another solid offering with a meaty guitar tone, punishing drums, bulldozer bass, menacing riffs, vicious vocals, and great songs overall. There's clearly no end in sight for Cannibal Corpse, and this album is absolute proof of that. Take notes kids, because this is how it's done.
Highs: "Only One Will Die", "Red Before Black", "Firestorm Vengeance" and "Scavenger Consuming Death".
Lows: Recycled riffs make certain songs less interesting than others.
Final Rating: 8/10
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