Few bands have as enviable a back catalogue of extremity as Cannibal Corpse. Theirs is a stamp of quality that has stood the test of time and while fans frequently argue over their favourite album, for fans of extreme metal Cannibal Corpse are the standard bearers for uncompromising death metal coupled with some of the harshest, horror themed lyrics ever penned. Thus the band’s latest opus, following on from the universally acclaimed ‘evisceration plague’ (released way back in 2009), has been hotly anticipated and its arrival, just days before the band’s ‘destroyers of the faith’ tour, is not a moment too soon.
Everything about ‘torture’, the band’s twelfth album, feels right. From the satisfyingly unsettling artwork to the bloodthirsty song titles (‘intestinal crank’ and ‘caged… contorted’ being personal favourites) it’s clear that Cannibal Corpse’s gleeful interest in all things gruesome remains unabated, and that is exactly as it should be – like the AC/DC of extreme metal fans know exactly what they want from Cannibal Corpse and by the darkest one do they deliver! The opening riff of ‘demented aggression’, like Slayer taken to the nth degree, is a buzz-saw grind of brutal intensity and then Geore ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher unleashes his trademark roar with potent effect. It is everything fans have come to love about the band – production just on the right side of raw, riffs gloriously potent and lyrics speaking of the unspeakable in a dizzying whirlwind of nightmarish, censor-baiting metal. Best of all, it’s the same massive rush and release that Cannibal Corpse have always provided and you can only imagine the wonders of the pit when they unleash this little beast. A fret-board bothering solo later and the band dispense with the opening track and launch straight into ‘sarcophagic frenzy’, a track that remarkably ups the ante with an unfeasibly fine opening riff and searing groove that has undeniable power and ferocity. ‘Scourge of iron’ is equally intense – the opening riff a seething monstrosity that suddenly gives way to mid-paced chug that is all the more powerful for its relentless march forward over your tortured pleas for mercy.
Having slowed things down for a moment of leaden aggression, it’s time to up the tempo with the frenzied thrashing of ‘encased in concrete’ with its see-saw riff and Slayer-esque opening solo. This is the sort of music that extreme metal fans dream of – untamed, feral riffs, maxed out vocals and a percussive assault that approximates the sound the Devil’s chariot makes upon its arrival. Simply awe-inspiring this will have you head-banging into next week. ‘As deep as the knife will go’ is an all-out grind fest, a vicious whirlwind of drums and guitar, all blurred into a disorientating assault upon the senses that will leave you dazed and confused. A personal favourite, however, is ‘intestinal crank’ with its opening, stair-stepping chords giving way to a churning, hulking riff that is part vintage grind, part bullish death metal dripping in blood and gore and wearing a demented smile. ‘Followed home then killed’ takes a brief pause, phased guitar and creepy atmospherics combined with a massive doom-style riff dragging you kicking into the tale of blood and woe before a crushing riff crawls out of the slime and strikes you down with merciless precision. It’s a sickening, adrenalin soaked master-class in horrific lyrics, mind-numbing brutality and top-class musicianship that will have you reaching for the repeat button whilst you take it all in.
‘The strangulation chair’ – a truly vile piece of kit for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing said device, is matched piece for piece by the mind-bending horror of the track, the guitars cycling through a number of brilliant riffs and tempos, the percussion stabbing away in the background and the corpsegrinder’s vocals as refreshingly nauseating as ever, although the undoubted winner in this piece must be the quite remarkable, jazzy bass solo that appears some two minutes in and leaves anyone who has argued that Cannibal Corpse are talentless noise polluters with their jaws on the floor. ‘Caged… contorted’ is rather more straightforward death metal with the vocals up close and personal and the riffs hewn from the finest steel. Icy, cold and disturbing it’s another reminder of exactly why Cannibal Corpse have remained perched at the top of the death metal heap, casting a scaly and disdainful eye over the competition but rarely unseated by them. ‘Crucifier avenged’ has a smart, tension building intro that gives way to a barrage of hateful riffs and screams, ‘rabid’ does exactly what it says on the tin with Corpsegrinder positively foaming at the mouth as he unleashes his warped visions. The song slowly fades out as the bass rumbles and then the final missive – ‘torn through’ comes smashing out of the speakers like a chest-burster from a victims rib cage, blood, bone and sinew flying in a warm and salty rain whilst the band play on in the centre of this whirlwind of gore, unaffected by the carnage they have just unleashed.
Music this extreme will always have a select audience. It’s not designed to cross over or have mainstream appeal and you just know that that suits Cannibal Corpse fine. ‘Torture’s a forty minute, savage blast that is fun, sickening, adrenalin charged and near overwhelming. The band have reached new heights of technicality and savagery and the music is as visceral as ever – all reasons to celebrate for fans of extreme metal. It’s time to worship, once more, at the altar of the Corpse.