The evolution of metal music over the last 30 years has united entire nations under a single bloodied, tattered, steel-adorned banner. Whether your taste is cocky with a hint of lipstick, piloted on electric guitar at superhuman speeds, bound to dark forces and martial drums, or so technically profound that your high school trig teacher recanted an ‘F’ on principle, it generally holds something for everyone. Not without its share of popular controversy, my generation was raised during the late ’90s emergence of rap-infused pseudo-metal marketed to teenage boys with alcoholic parents; our pastime became ducking under stupidly obstinate moral crusaders for dibs on Marilyn Manson and ICP tickets.
Meanwhile, in early ’90s Germany, the Vince Locke-garnished, hyper-violent creature that is New York-based death metal act Cannibal Corpse was banned from playing any material featured on its first three LPs (Eaten Back to Life, Butchered at Birth, and fan favorite Tomb of the Mutilated), a ban finally rescinded in 2006; sharing the load, US Senator Bob Dole counted the band amongst 2 Live Crew and Geto Boys as destructive to American youth around 1995. Even if you are a relative dunce regarding sociopolitical trends beyond textbook chapters on WWII and the Cold War, one already pictures raging septuagenarians claiming songs like “I Cum Blood” represent absolute, irreversible societal decay a la Bill O’Reilly’s ‘net porn battle. Torture marks Cannibal Corpse’s 12th studio release; trucking past juggling guitar players and changing lead vocalists, Cannibal Corpse as an entity never softens its blows or strays from its distinctively horror-laden persona. Germany did not stifle the masses of adoring fans, so why stop now?
Instead, the band adapts to a 2012 world, molests it a little, and even winds up leaning more into sinister Slayer territory, while maintaining an ideology that listeners don’t require that your voice be coherent, just raw and sincere. On opening track “Demented Aggression”, George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher spits and writhes like a decapitated snake wearing a Lamb of God t-shirt. “Sarcophagic Frenzy” places guitarists Rob Barrett and Patrick O’Brien in a shadowy tomb to better destroy us all with riffs and echoes. “Scourge of Iron” and “Followed Home Then Killed” feel borderline doom one minute, roaring with deadly musical machinations and fast-paced double-bass the next, keeping listeners on their battered toes in the imaginary mosh before socking them in the jaw with classically-tinged “The Strangulation Chair” or virtually anything working up to closer “Torn Through”.
The sounds on Torture are pretty much identical to what you hear on every other record by Cannibal Corpse: If it ain’t broke, they aren’t fixing it. The production here is as clean as it’s been since 2006’s Kill; so, thick bass is thicker, loudness is louder, and we love every split second. Care for a row, boys and ghouls? See you at the show.
Essential Tracks: “Demented Aggression”, “Torn Through”, and “Caged… Contorted”