Friday, February 26, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Eaten Back to Life

8/10

Cannibal Corpse may not have been the first death metal band to utilize Cookie Monster vocals (Deicide's Glen Benton used a similar style, and that band's debut predated this by two months), but they've probably done more to make them famous than anyone else. Chris Barnes gives a great performance (even though he doesn't sound quite as comfortable as he would on some later albums, the fact that he sounds like he's straining frequently makes the songs more effective), and the twin guitar attack is as strong as ever, delivering awesome riffs and solos with amazing consistency. It's also a bit bassier than later offerings from the Corpse; on later Corpse albums, the only time I could really make out the bass without headphones were on the rare occasions where Alex Webster would get a brief solo.
My favorite song here is "Put Them to Death," a spirited defense of the death penalty which features the most easily audible words on the entire album: "FUUUUUUUCK YOU!" Okay, there's one riff in that song that sounds more than a little like the Benny Hill theme, but I love Yakkety Sax so I can forgive it- it makes anything funny! (Except, well, Benny Hill.)
The biggest missteps here are that some of the songwriting is repetitive (the last verse of "Shredded Humans" is just the first verse repeated- I think they were having trouble padding the album out even to 35 minutes), and the drumming. While Paul Mazurkiewicz isn't a great drummer today, he is absolutely horrible here; his playing rarely sounds heavy at all, and is mostly limited to fairly generic patterns. Just check out the opening to "Edible Autopsy"- it sounds like a kindergartener lightly tapping random parts of a drum kit with silverware.
However, most of Eaten Back to Life is able to transcend the amateurish drum performance, and, as the debut from one of the most famous death metal bands in the world, it's still an essential listen for any fan of the genre.

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