Cannibal Corpse – Torture
Label – Metal Blade
Release Date – 03/13/12
I love Cannibal Corpse. Even before I knew what they sounded like, I loved them just for the album covers and the song titles. I remember picking up the 15 Year Killing Spree box set and seeing song titles like “Devoured By Vermin” and “Hammer Smashed Face” and being so confused and shocked, but ultimately thinking that it was absolutely badass. Plus, they’re in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Despite personal bias, I wrote a piece for the late “All Metal Resource” blog about the direction that Cannibal Corpse was heading. While the article did sing their praise, I did admit that they were on a very slow decline, though still crafting solid albums. While I still stand by that statement, Torture now stands as the strongest of the Mana Studios sessions, and perhaps the best album of the “Corpsegrinder” era.
What sets Torture a step above is its character, missing since the days of The Wretched Spawn and Bloodthirst. My main complaint with the more recent crop of Cannibal Corpse albums is that they all sound similar. Obviously, when they started to work with Erik Rutan, the production became stellar, but some of the writing seemed forced—almost as if band was just going through the motions. Their creativity made them who they are today, from each piece of controversial artwork to their very name itself, with a gory swagger that elevated them to become the most popular death metal band in history.
We haven’t seen songs like “Followed Home Then Killed” in a long time. Chris Barnes’s primal, brutal approach in his Cannibal career was unheard of, and is still shocking to this day. Since his exit, lyrics have been a rough spot for the band. While still violent and gore-laden, they missed that disturbing, criminally insane style. Torture’s lyrics and song titles come closest to replicating this—which, in my book, is a HUGE achievement.
The songwriting reminds me of a more modern take on the early/thrashy days of Cannibal Corpse, like how “Crucifier Avenged” opens like “The Pickaxe Murders” from The Bleeding or “A Skull Full of Maggots” from Eaten Back to Life. The guitar tandem of Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett shines like never before; leads, riffs and solos are all fantastic. But I still don’t hear Alex Webster like I once could—his incredible work and distinctive nuances are drowned out by the assault of voluminous, explosive death metal. Erik Rutan is a great producer but Webster doesn’t have the presence that Scott Burns offered on those first four albums; his under-produced, plucky bass twang added a necessary level of grime. Don’t get me wrong, Torture is an extremely well-produced avalanche of sound; I just want to hear the bass more. Be sure to turn up your stereo for “The Strangulation Chair”. [I hear ya… he’s fucking buried in that second half! ~Ed.]
And of course, Paul Mazurkiewicz does exactly what is asked of him. In the Centuries of Torment documentary, Paul mentions how he can only play drums for Cannibal Corpse, and while I am sure he would do just fine in ANY other metal band, his ferocious style has been the pulse of these death metal masters from the beginning.
I must admit that I wasn’t excited for a new Cannibal Corpse album, but Torture has restored my confidence in this legendary band. If this is your first time, shame on you for being late to the party! But no matter what level of fan you are or which vocalist your prefer, Torture will satisfy all of your Cannibal Corpse wants and needs.
01. Demented Aggression
02. Sarcophagic Frenzy
03. Scourge of Iron
04. Encased in Concrete
05. As Deep As the Knife Will Go
06. Intestinal Crank
07. Followed Home Then Killed
08. The Strangulation Chair
10. Crucifier Avenged
12. Torn Through