Few, if any, death metal groups have ever entered the public conciousness as much as Cannibal Corpse. Shocking audiences with their violent album covers and lyrics in the early days of death metal, they’ve maintained their status as one of the genre greats through consistently delivering music that’s blisteringly heavy yet technical, and through being one of the most intense live bands in the genre too, regularly touring around the world. A Skeletal Domain is the thirteenth album in the group’s extensive catalogue and it’s absolutely vicious. After the fantastic Kill in 2006, the following albums Evisceration Plague and Torture were good releases, but comparatively unspectacular, but this new one sees them knocking it up a notch and delivering one of the band’s best releases to date. Fantastic song writing, flat out intensity and great technical musicianship make A Skeletal Domain a force to be reckoned with.
All the staples of the Cannibal Corpse sound are present, from the vicious barks of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, to the explosive sound of Alex Webster’s bass twang, furious technical riffage and the unrelenting pounding drum barrage – to say the band break new ground with this release would be lying. But what they do achieve is pushing their particular sound forward to the point where it’s all but perfected. With the production creating an intense wall of barbaric sound, the release is insanely vicious from start to finish, and doesn’t let up.
What’s also impressive is how tight the band are, the musicianship is so technical, while the chemistry between them means the overall effect is heightened – this is methodical murder rather than sloppy splatter. Corpsegrinder’s voice is fantastic as ever, his bark is so evil sounding and furious with those tremendously low, powerful growls and the speed of his delivery at points is incredible, particularly on Sadistic Embodiment. The way his vocals change depending on the music is great too, speedily spitting the lyrics over the faster sections, or bellowing slowly and menacingly when the music slows, its a typically great and varied performance. The way the riffs play between the vocal lines is fantastic, showing great song writing, especially on Kill or Become. And when it comes to the guitars they’re perfect through the album, never a pedestrian riff or dull breakdown, those fast, furious churning riffs are completely oppressive, while the stomp of the pounding slower riffs are no less menacing and evil. For all the brilliance of their chunky riffs the lead guitar is equally brilliant, the freneticism of their slayer influenced wah-fuelled solos adds that extra intensity. Alex Webster not only has one of the best bass tones in metal, with each note sounding like an explosion with it’s deep rumble, but he’s also one of the most talented, with his technical fast playing creating a grinding potency. The sound of the blasting drums is so heavy it feels that each hit of the skins is akin to being punched in the face.
Enough has been said about their intensity, but they’re not one of those bands which are all heaviness and no substance, their song writing is fantastic, with so many hooks and brilliant riffs, lots of them keep playing in your head long after the album finishes, while the vocal lines and choruses are equally memorable and catchy, especially on Kill or Become and Sadistic Embodiment. As a whole across A Skeletal Domain there are no useless filler tracks and they all slay, but there are a few highlights. The all out intense heaviness in that churning low pitched maelstrom of riff heavy sound in Headlong into Carnage is as thrilling as that blistering solo, while the furious barks on Asphyxiate to Resuscitate are so abrasive it feels they’re taking the skin right off your face. Bloodstained Cement is an all out riff-fest of epic proportions, but the best of the bunch is Kill or Become, the fantastic vocals and the way they interplay with the brilliant riffs is phenomenal.
Ultimately A Skeletal Domain is another fantastic album from the death metal veterans that shows despite 13 releases in a 26 career they’re still capable of delivering fresh sounding, incredibly heavy music that’s asintense as head butting a landmine. Cannibal Corpse fans will not be disappointed.
A Skeletal Domain will be released on September 16th 2014 by Metal Blade Records