Amidst the chuckle-inducing titles it is easy to forget that Cannabis Corpse are actually a hellishly tight and proficient band, albeit one with a distinctly herbal sense of humour. Hence the arrival of ‘beneath grow lights thou shalt rise’ should not be treated lightly or ill-advisedly as the opening horrors of ‘visions from the dankside’ and ‘lunatic of pot’s creation’ testify.
With the former track a brief and unnerving opener, it is left to the latter to slam the listener around the head repeatedly with a lead-loaded bag of weed and if the lyrics take on a decidedly humorous aspect, there’s nothing funny at all about the music, drawing comparisons with Brujeria who were similarly superficially comedic until you actually sat down and listened to the music, which was frequently heavy enough to mentally scar the unprepared. ‘Lunatic of pot’s creation’ is certainly damaging, a searing and unpleasant slice of death metal topped off with tar-thickened vocals and a crushing production job, it’s gloriously over-the-top and brilliantly played and as you hit the harmonised solos of ‘blame it on the bud’ there is no doubt left in your mind that Cannibis Corpse may be content to play at being stoned slackers but that the reality is they are as talented and as obnoxious a death metal band as you could wish for. Of course given the musicians involved it was unlikely to be any other way and for those who still think it’s just a novelty act consider this: the band are on their third full length album in a business when many acts are lucky to get one album to their name – quite simply while the name might scream novelty, the delivery is spot-on although it is arguable that death metal fans would accept nothing less, especially as Cannibal Corpse are one of the most beloved of all death metal institutions.
The charmingly titled ‘chapel of bowels’ is next, complete with spleen-rupturing vocals and multiple riffs and tempos and as it grinds itself into your skull you do start to fear for the band members’ sanity, but then you shrug and start to head-bang along because it’s almost impossible not to enjoy something that is just this much fun… and that really is what Cannabis Corpse is about. Sure it may be silly, possibly even puerile, but the members all have a genuine affection for the subject of their lampooning and the material is of a uniformly high quality throughout making it as enjoyable as it is funny. With the aforementioned chapel having loosened your unmentionables, next up is ‘dead by bong’ a song that implies a mighty big bong by riff alone with a lightning fast opening/chorus giving way to a much more spacious verse allowing the vocals room to smoke gently amidst the violent groove. Speaking of groove, ‘immortal pipes’ has a low-down swing to it that gets the head nodding appreciatively (or perhaps that’s just the persuasive power of gravity causing your smoke-enhanced orb to droop) before the second half sees the pace pick up with the band apparently awoken from their herbal slumber by the need for munchies…
And so it goes, ‘blaze of torment’ is a brutal slice of grinding brutality, while ‘sworn to the bag’ is almost elegant with its woozy, slow-mo introduction, although such notions of elegance are swiftly dispatched by the title being delivered as a high-pitched wail which is part-banshee, part-Brujeria death metal yelp. ‘Where the kind lives’ is similarly bottom heavy death grind with smoke-corroded vocals and ‘gateways to inhalation’ features a brief but fun harmonised solo piercing the general gloom and depravity. Sadly, that only leaves you with the riff-tastic ‘slave to the chron’ which sees some serious fret-abuse, and the closing blast of the title track which sees the album out on a smoke-fuelled high.
While death metal is frequently seen as being at the more serious end of the metal spectrum, it’s a genre that has never objected to affectionate parody (witness Metalocalypse and you’ll see what I mean) and Cannabis Corpse perfectly bridge the gap between comedy, with their mirth-inducing titles, and brutal deathly crunch meaning that they offer fans the best of both worlds. While there is nothing here to attract those who passed on previous offerings, this is as loud, abrasive and obnoxious as you could wish and if it’s your thing to crack a keg, get a few mates round and have a laugh then this should be your ideal soundtrack. If Beavis and Butthead formed a band it would probably sound something like this and, in case you’re in any doubt, that is a glowing endorsement!