Cannibal Corpse are nothing if not punishing and unrelenting, but since their career defining album Kill in 2006 they’ve also become complacent, yet at the same time they’re consistent. Cannibal Corpse has yet to put out a bad album but they also haven’t put out any material since Kill that pushes the band outside of their comfort zone, a zone they’ve been in since the band started. Fans know what to expect with the band and on their 13th effort A Skeletal Domain they deliver the goods. The album is a great death metal record. Songs are heavy, dark, fast, and full of the slightly cheesy but oh so good twisted lyrics that the band is known for. A Skeletal Domain doesn’t have the same pop some of their other efforts do but there are a couple of songs here that will find a long stint on their live setlist.
Cannibal Corpse leave producer Erik Rutan, who did their last three releases, in favor of Mark Lewis. Lewis himself is becoming a go-to producer having been behind the boards for the fantastic Die Without Hope by Carnifex, Our Endless War by Whitechapel, and Battlecross’ War of Will in the past two years alone. Cannibal Corpse made a great choice because Lewis makes the band sound as heavy as ever with a great mix. Each instrument is fully represented and you don’t get that weird “where did the bass go?” feeling a lot of metal albums have. Speaking of the bass player though, Alex Webster is a little less pronounced this time around. The legendary bassist has long been herald as one of the all time greats and usually has a few songs where you get a taste of his technical skills. But even without those moments, the musicianship on display here is at the same level it’s always been with Cannibal Corpse, at the highest of those in their genre.
Two of the songs on A Skeletal Remain rise above the rest. The opening salvo “High Velocity Impact Splatter” starts things off right. A relentless assault of guitars and blistering drums that lets you know that the kings of old school death metal are back with a new record. The highlight track of the album has to be “Kill or Become”, which will no doubt become a fan favorite when played live. Just picture a room full of metal junkies screaming along with vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher when he bellows “Fire up the chainsaw!”
However, that complacency does start to become apparent as the album moves through its middle stages. Few of the middle tracks have parts that stick with you. It isn’t until the final few songs that things pick up again. The album starts off great and finishes strong but songs like “Bloodstained Cement” sound like they’re using recycled riffs from albums past.
It’s hard to complain about sameness with a band like this; this is what they do. They make great death metal. They have a recipe and they stick to it. And after all these years it still isn’t old. Some bands can’t figure out what they want to sound like and go from album to album bouncing from gimmick to gimmick never finding their footing. Cannibal Corpse stuck their hooks into old school slamming death metal decades ago and they’ll never stop and they’ll never change. And to be honest, I don’t think anyone wants them to.
Key Tracks: Hight Velocity Impact Splatter, Kill or Become, Asphyxiate to Resuscitate
You can purchase “A Skeletal Domain” here.