Cannibal Corpse have always been, lyrically and musically, right on the edge of my listening spectrum and I'm therefore not as familiar as some with their output. There is no denying, though, they are probably the biggest selling death metal on the planet. Formed in 1988, their history has been full of controversy and even I could probably write a book about them, but they refuse to bow down and are back with studio album number thirteen, 'A Skeletal Domain'. Now, if I'm being honest, this is probably a release I wouldn't have bothered with personally. There are too many bands I prefer listening to but, as a reviewer, I give everything the same time and chance. Having listened to this about eight times now I'm very happy to say it's one of the best full-on death metal albums I've heard in a long while. Absolutely brutal from start to finish, but full of twists and turns, Cannibal Corpse are certainly not growing old gracefully, but there is a heck of a lot of maturity on 'A Skeletal Domain' that has surprised me. Perhaps I should have listened to them more in the past!
Opening track, the awesomely entitled 'High Velocity Impact Splatter', starts with slowly building, screaming guitars that sound like a hellish locust swarm approaching and then George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher lets rip with a short blood-curdling scream before everything kicks in like a bulldozer. This track is an open statement of what to expect from the whole album. Full of time changes, insane riffs and solo work, nerve shredding vocals and drums so powerfully played (including blast beats which are not my favourite thing but these aren't overdone) that you think the earth's crust might actually crack!
After the first two tracks, which seem to go by at an immense pace, it is third track 'Kill Or Become' where things really click for me. Slightly slower in places, this sounds like Slayer at their best, but on massive amounts of steroids. Corpsegrinder's choral command to "Fire up the chainsaw" just oozes malevolence. Rob Barratt and Pat O'Brien's guitars and Alex Webster's bass are absolutely thunderous. In fact, 'A Skeletal Domain' has been produced superbly by Mark Lewis of the aptly titled Audio Hammer Studios. Of all the previous albums and tracks I have heard, I think this is the best Cannibal Corpse have ever sounded in the studio. Add to this the 'star of the show' performance from drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, whose playing is utterly mind boggling and heavy then, whether you are a fan of this genre and band or not, you have to applaud what they've done here. When it comes to extreme metal, it just doesn't get much better than this.
Just listen to the opening canon salvo of drums and double kick on 'Funeral Cremation', especially on good speakers or headphones, and your insides will melt and fall out of your backside in a huge bloody mess! Following track 'Icepick Lobotomy' will do the same to your brain and you'll be lucky if you don't end up just a steaming pile of intestines and grey matter by the end of the album! I know this won't be for everyone but Cannibal Corpse have delivered a pretty immense album with 'A Skeletal Domain' and, yes, I am quite shocked I'm saying that!
A SKELETAL DOMAIN
Review by Rick Tilley
16th Sept 2014
1) High Velocity Impact Spatter
2) Sadistic Embodiment; 3) Kill or Become
4) A Skeletal Domain
5) Headlong into Carnage
6) The Murderer's Pact
7) Funeral Cremation
8) Icepick Lobotomy
9) Vector of Cruelty
10) Bloodstained Cement
11) Asphyxiate to Resuscitate
12) Hollowed Bodies
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the best Cannibal Corpse have ever sounded in the studio."