ALBUM REVIEW: Cannibal Corpse - Chaos Horrific
Legendary death metal band Cannibal Corpse have made 2023 a lot more brutal with the release of their sixteenth album Chaos Horrific on Metal Blade Records. Their second album with Hate Eternal guitarist Erik Rutan, who also produced the album. The album continues the intensity and classic death metal sound the band had on their previous album with 2021's Violence Unimagined which bassist Alex Webster has said about the record. While Rutan produced the record, he also pushed the band to "push the envelope" and "explore new territory" with this record. With so much death metal released this month from other fellow death metal icons like Dying Fetus and Cryptopsy, how does this record stand up against their peers?
The album opens with "Overlords of Violence". With the gritty and driving bass playing of Webster in the opening, the song strikes hard with guitar stabs inbetween the bass section before the main riff. The chugging guitars are heavy and deep tone wise. Corpsegrinder's vocals are a little lower in the mix compared to the rest of the band, but with his gutturals and speed, it works. I love the guitar solo at the three quarters mark and is a great album opener. "Frenzied Feeding" starts with tremolo and chugging guitar with the driving drums of Paul Mazurkiewicz. Nice opening guitar solo after the verse section with that "dive bomb" sound into the verse section sounds so good and is classic Cannibal Corpse. I love the breakdown-esque section at the halfway mark with the drums punching through, into a midtempo slow headbanging section.
One of my favorite tracks, and the second single off the album, is "Summoned For Sacrifice". With an opening riff section similar to something off of Slayer's Seasons in The Abyss album, its a gritty, slower death metal sound with Corpsegrinder's vocals higher in the mix and aggresion at its peak. The song's pacing picks up with the drums, and the guttural growls and delivery in the vocals get matched by a thrashier sounding death metal riff on the verse section. I love the guitar solo over the chugging riff behind it, back into the slowed down riffage of Erik Rutan & Rob Barrett before going back into another almost dual harmony guitar solo section.
The next track, the album's first single "Blood Blind", has a very heavy, downtuned chugging opening riff with double bass pounding behind it. Definitely a slow headbanger of a track. I can picture the crowd banging along to. The pace picks up with Corpsegrinder's commanding vocals on the chorus with backing vocals by Rutan, adding a one-two punch of deep, guttural and unique growls. The guitar solos again are so strong, they don't overstay their welcome and know how to end and segue back into the main riff so well. On "Vengeful Invasion", the song has a great intricate sounding riff before the chugging comes in on the guitars. Though a heavy song, I feel it just doesn't have the same punch as the other songs so far.
The album's title track starts off fast and heavy. With fast-paced guitar playing and drumming by Mazurkiewicz, the song almost has a crust punk kind of attitude in its guitar playing and vocals, which I love and the band does that style really well. Almost reminding me of Corpsegrinder's solo stuff. "Fracture and Refracture" is classic Cannibal Corpse. Stylistically, pacing, vocal delivery and double bass on the verse. I love this song as well, with the speed up and slow down on the verses with little pops of pinch harmonics on it. "Pitchfork Impalement" continues the same feeling and attitude, matching the same intensity and impact the previous song had. The album's closer "Drain You Empty" has an almost melodic doom/death metal hybrid opening to it. With the atmospheric, wailing guitars and slowed down double bass, the song is definitely a new one as a Cannibal Corpse fan. With Corpsegrinder screaming the song title, the song turns into the band's normal sound, with relentless pacing of the riff and double bass. Although, I kinda wish the band kept that opening motif throughout the whole song. I would have loved to hear how dark the song could have gone in that direction.
Overall, Chaos Horrific is a strong release from the band, who have been going strong for over thirty five years. With different genre elements teased or added to the band's sound on the record, it added uniqueness and at certain points, broke the stereotypical or formulaic sound of the band. I do feel that the hype Rutan teased of "pushing the envelope" was more hinted and not full pushed. The album's closing track for example. It does show that the band is willing to try new things and incorporate new elements into their sound. A great follow up to the band's previous album, it almost breathes new life into the band and I can't wait to see some of the new songs performed live and see how the crowd goes crazy for them. Especially the album's title track. Another great death metal release for 2023.
SCORE: 9 / 10
1) Overlords of Violence
2) Frenzied Feeding
3) Summoned For Sacrifice
4) Blood Blind
5) Vengeful Invasion
6) Chaos Horrific
7) Fracture and Refracture
8) Pitchfork Impalement
9) Pestilential Rictus
10) Drain You Empty
FFO: Deicide, Hate Eternal, Severe Torture
Cannibal Corpse officially begins a fall North American tour with black metal legends Mayhem, with touring support Gorguts and Blood Incantation. If you want to see the band live, check out http://www.cannibalcorpse.net/ for tour dates and tickets.