Cannabis Corpse – ‘Left Hand Pass’ Album Review

Be honest, you love Cannibis Corpse. They bring a sense of fun to an oft over-serious genre, their lyrical conceits primarily concerned with excessive inhalation and an altered state of consciousness that borders on the catatonic. Yet, for all the foolishness inherent in the notion of a cannabis-themed death metal band, there’s nothing foolish about the deathly scree that the band unleash upon the unsuspecting. Blistering riffs, gloriously over the top solos and vocals that are dredged from some unthinkable abyss are all present and correct and, on ‘left hand pass’, they’re delivered both with impressive precision and a slightly giddy enthusiasm.  

‘Left hand pass’, cannabis corpse’s fourth full-length offering, sees the band dig deep to deliver their most ferocious album to date, even throwing in a few surprises along the way. Opening track ‘The 420th Crusade’, for example, kicks off with deftly harmonised guitars before engaging with a riff so rampant if threatens to trample you under foot. At four and a half minutes, the song could drag if it wasn’t for the multiple time changes that the band weave into the arrangement, allowing for some shit-hot soloing and even a brief moment of calm amidst the cacophonous maelstrom. ‘In dank purity’, in contrast, is a short, sharp jab to the nether-regions that will leave you reeling, whilst ‘final exhalation’ is a nightmarish whirlwind of scarred-trachea vocals and churning guitar. A longer outing, ‘chronic breed’ opens amidst an eerie sample featuring air raid samples and indeterminate shouting before the band detonate like a nuclear holocaust, scouring the earth with white hot guitars and Landphil’s unhinged vocalisations. As with the opening salvo, there’s impressive variety amidst the brutality which keeps the track from melting down into mere savagery, the band (and Hallhammer in particular) demonstrating considerable technical proficiency betwixt the pot-themed gags and demonic screams. The first half comes to a juddering halt with the searing ‘In battle there is no pot’, a crushing dirge that adopts a Bolt Thrower-esque pace and proceeds to batter the listener relentlessly into submission.

For those looking to head bang until they puke, ‘Grass obliteration’ provides the requisite motivation only for the title track to up the ante considerably with cascading vocals and a scything riff that is so mired in distortion that it hovers on the edge of listenability. A sludgy paean to the cumulative effects of pot smoking, ‘effigy of the forgetful’ sees pinch harmonics and atonal progressions vying for the attention only to lose to Landphil’s increasingly ravaged vocals.  Winning the award for best title ever, ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Protect Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In the Bong Water’ emerges from an unexpected scree of noise, sounding for all the world like someone inhaling a bong whilst watching horror movies, before the band once again home in on a taut groove destined to raise neck brace sales everywhere. The album’s final track, ‘The fiends that come to steal the weed of the deceased’ provides one last opportunity for the band to singe the hair with their fiery offerings and then the album spins to a halt, a short but exhausting 36 minutes from start to end and you collapse in a tangled, sweaty mess upon the floor.

Despite the fact that the band’s name and song-titles suggest a novelty factor, Cannabis Corpse are as brutal as they come. Consider it rather more a tribute to Cannibal Corpse, and Floridian death metal as a whole, than an out and out parody because there’s nothing remotely foolish about the unholy racket the band make. With a sense of fun that seems increasingly hard to come by in these troubled times, Cannabis Corpse offer up a searing slab of death metal that is not unlike sharing a sofa with Beavis and Butthead, the humour an integral part of the experience rather than a pop at it. If you don’t love Cannabis Corpse, you should. Now go check out this album. 8

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