Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Kill


Holy crap, this album gets off to a great start, with Corpsegrinder screaming "KIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLL!" while the band sounds like they started right in the middle of a song. It's one of my favorite albums openings ever. Unfortunately, while this album has some equally awesome moments, there are some songs here that just don't cut the mustard. Kill has some great songs that are just as good as the best material released with Chris Barnes, but there's also more than a little filler here (mostly in the second half).
Kill also isn't as varied as The Wretched Spawn- the best songs are all fast and thrashy, such as "The Time to Kill is Now," "Five Nails Through the Neck,""Necrosadistic Warning," and "Brain Removal Device." (When I looked up this album on the Internet before it came out, that last song was mislabeled "Brain Removal Police," which sounds even more interesting to me.) The not-so-great songs just kind of blend together in my mind, with no real memorable parts at all. Songs like this include most of "Murder Worship," "Barbaric Bludgeonings," and the dull-as-dishwater instrumental "Infinite Misery ". This is completely speculation on my part, but maybe the loss of founding guitarist Jack Owen negatively affected their ability to self-edit? He wrote most of my favorite songs on The Wretched Spawn.
Still, there's a lot of great material on here, and the filler isn't that embarrassing, so I can give it a recommendation. It's just not quite as good as it could have been.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - The Wretched Spawn


The Wretched Spawn has to be one of the most varied albums from Cannibal Corpse. That may not sound like it's saying a whole lot, but the tempos here span the whole spectrum from almost grindcore-speed (Severed Head Stoning, Cyanide Assassin) to midtempo (Decency Defied) to slow and deliberate (Festering in the Crypt), and the song structures range from simple verse-chorus-verse to the less traditional patterns typical of the Barnes era.
Not all of the songs here are typical death metal- "Decency Defied" wouldn't sound out of place done by some mainstream metal band (but it's still good!), Festering in the Crypt is plodding but hooky as hell, "Nothing Left to Mutilate" has a surprisingly melodic solo that provides a stark contrast to the brutal-as-hell verses, and the guitar tones on the title track aren't nearly as chaotic as on most other CC songs.
However, it's stuff like this that makes The Wretched Spawn such an interesting listen. I know that it's weird to compare Cannibal Corpse albums to ZZ Top albums, but if Tomb of the Mutilated was their Eliminator- an album that was great even though it was pretty one-note- The Wretched Spawn is their Tres Hombres- an album that's great because it tries and succeeds at doing all kinds of things (you'd have to be really prejudiced against metal to say that all of these songs sound the same). It's by far my favorite album with Corpsegrinder.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Terrible Album Covers: Lou Reed - The Blue Mask

Now this one takes the award for laziness. I'm going to assume that they waited til the last minute to figure out what this cover would be, since it's just the photo from Transformer painted blue.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Worm Infested


Worm Infested is an EP featuring six leftover tracks recorded during the Corpsegrinder era. The original songs are worthwhile; "Systematic Elimination" is decent, if a bit generic, but the title track is awesome! Sporting some of the grossest Cannibal Corpse lyrics ever (to go with the equally disgusting cover art), "Worm Infested" has great ascending and descending riffs and an excellent performance from Fisher. I have no idea why it didn't make it onto an album. There's also a re-recording of "The Undead Will Feast" from Eaten Back to Life. It's okay, but there were far better Barnes-era songs to recreate.
The other three tracks are all covers, and their effectiveness varies. Accept's "Demon's Night" wasn't such a great choice for a cover, as it's not nearly as chaotic as Cannibal Corpse's original material, but at least it was performed better than the stuff on Six Feet Under's Graveyard Classics albums. Possessed's "Confessions" is fairly faithful to the original, to the point that Corpsegrinder is barely recognizable, using a raspy voice instead of the more typical growling. The EP ends with a cover of Metallica's No Remorse, which does a great job of being both easily recognizable while putting the Cannibal Corpse stamp on it.
The only really essential song here is the title track, but there are some others that are very good. It's not consistent or anything, but what do you expect from a collection of discarded tracks?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Gore Obsessed


Gore Obsessed is something of a return to form for Cannibal Corpse, with far more memorable passages and songs than the last two studio outings. "Hatchet to the Head" is wonderfully hooky and is one of the few CC songs that one can actually sing along to. Another great song here is "Mutation of the Cadaver," which has great screaming, an interesting bass intro, and drumming that's just off-kilter enough to stand out. Also, the lyrics don't have any profanity or even violence, which means it's completely radio-friendly (I have no idea how it missed the top 40). Corpsegrinder's performance is great throughout, with both high pitched screaming and low-pitched squealing that's not as annoying as those "BREEEEEE" vocals I hate so much.
Unfortunately, some songs aren't entirely consistent; "Drowning in Viscera" starts off with great, rhythmic vocals from Corpsegrinder but levels off after the beginning, while "Savage Butchery" would be a damn fine song if not for the fact that the solo is mixed so low that it's almost inaudible. "Sanded Faceless" has a great intro that actually evokes the song's title, but the rest of the song is pretty much Cannibal Corpse by numbers. "When Death Replaces Life" is a slower song that would be pretty good if it didn't go on for five minutes; as it is, it's fairly repetitive (at least for the first half).
Gore Obsessed has its flaws, but it's a hell of a lot better than the band's previous two efforts. It doesn't really do much that's new for the band, but if you wanted a band with a constantly changing sound, you shouldn't be listening to Cannibal Corpse anyway.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Live Cannibalism


As far as arrangements are concerned, Cannibal Corpse doesn't really change much from the original studio versions of the songs on Live Cannibalism, but it's a pretty decent listen regardless. What surprised me is that nearly half of the setlist consists of Barnes-era material. I can't say that Corpsegrinder improves on the original vocals, but it's definitely more interesting than just hearing more recent songs. Also, the stuff from the later albums sounds a bit better without the too-clean production that I hated.
Corpsegrinder also has some brief-but-amusing stage banter. ("This next one goes out to all the fucking women out there!") The only real misstep is the unnecessary addition of 90 seconds of feedback to the end of "Disposal of the Body". Otherwise, it's fine if not especially revelatory.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Terrible Album Covers: The Rolling Stones - Dirty Work

Yes, jokes about how insanely old the Rolling Stones are date back at least to when I was a toddler. My favorite part of this cover is Charlie Watts half asleep near the bottom. It shouldn't be surprising that this album dates from 1986, a year which has a reputation as being the worst year in music as far as artists who got their start in previous decades are concerned (my favorite example of this is Lou Reed including a fucking rap song that year). It's considered by many to be the Stones' worst album.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Bloodthirst


Bloodthirst is the second Cannibal Corpse album in a row that doesn't do a whole lot for me. On these albums that I don't like as much as the others, Cannibal Corpse were just trying to hard to be technical, and not aiming for the sheer, unadulterated brutality that made the Barnes albums so great. The problem was that while the guitarists are decent players, they don't quite have the ability needed to create a tech-death masterpiece like Gorguts' Obscura or some of the later-period Death albums. Compounding the fact is that Mazurkiewicz' playing is as dull as ever, and Alex Webster's usually lower than normal in the mix, meaning that the rhythm section is nothing to write home about.
There are still some pretty decent songs here, though- "Raped by the Beast" is as chaotic as anything off of the first three albums, while "Dead Human Collection" and "The Spine Splitter" are catchy as hell. "Hacksaw Decapitation" has a great intro, but the Also, Corpsegrinder's vocals are considerably more varied than on the previous two albums.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of songs on Bloodthirst that feel like they were written on autopilot. Maybe the fact that Vile was the last CC album produced by Scott Burns has something to do with how I don't like these albums as much? His style was a hell of a lot grittier. Whatever the reason, I don't listen to this album too much.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Gallery of Suicide


I just don't care for this album that much. Oh, Gallery of Suicide still has a few incredible songs on it, as all CC albums do. But for every great song such as "I Will Kill You," "Headless," or "Unite the Dead," (this one has really sweet lyrics. It's about mommy zombies and daddy zombies getting together and making baby zombies! Isn't that adorable?) there's a song that's barely memorable at all. Chief among these is the five-and-a-half-minute instrumental "From Skin to Liquid," which doesn't really serve any purpose except to take up space, and there are a bunch of of other tracks such as "Disposal of the Body" (which, admittedly, ends with a short but cool solo), the dull-as-hell "Sentenced to Burn" (which reminds me more than a little of the old WWF Raw theme song).
I don't know what happened. This was one of the last Cannibal Corpse albums that I got around to hearing, so maybe it's just me? Then again, maybe it had something to do with the loss of guitarist Rob Barret, who played on the previous two albums as Bob Rusay's replacement, or maybe it's because Fisher's vocal patterns still aren't too varied (the same could be said for Barnes, though, but I kind of preferred his Cookie monster growling style), and by now he doesn't have the novelty of being new on his side. Gallery of Suicide is also almost 45 minutes long, while none of the previous albums even made it to the 40 minute mark. Whatever the reason, this is the first album by Cannibal Corpse that I can't really recommend.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Vile


When I was first listening to Cannibal Corpse, I was convinced that Chris Barnes was a far better vocalist than George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, although this was in large part due to the fact that I felt that Barnes sounded much sillier (I listened to death metal for laughs at first). Today, I think that they're equally good, but I tend to like the Barnes albums a bit better due to them being my first.
Vile was Corpsegrinder's first album with the band after Chris Barnes got kicked out since the other band members thought the vocal tracks he recorded for this album sucked. George is a bit easier to understand than Barnes was, but his vocals are just as good- his screams are great although the vocal patterns here are a bit repetitive (clearly, the loss of Barnes had made the band suffer in that department). Unfortunately, the songwriting here is a bit samey; a bunch of the solos are fairly interchangeable and the songs aren't nearly as catchy as those on The Bleeding. Also, there are a few of the band's rareexperiments, such as a transition between "Disfigured" and "Bloodlands" with awkward wind noises, and the band's first instrumental, "Relentless Beating," which doesn't go much of anywhere but has some great bass playing.
Still, there's plenty to enjoy here, as Vile only pales in comparison to what preceded it; the first two songs, "Devoured by Vermin" and "Mummified in Barbed Wire" are just as good as anything from the Barnes albums; "Eaten from Inside" has two great solos, one melodic, one noisy; and "Monolith" does a great job of ending the album, with an epic intro leading into a wonderfully brutal song telling of a zombie apocalypse ending the world. This is the worst Cannibal Corpse album released to this point, but it's still pretty good.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terrible Album Covers: Kiss - Dressed to Kill

I'm the most illiterate person ever when it comes to fashion, and even I can tell that those suits don't even come close to fitting. Apparently, they had to use their managers' suits because none of the band members owned any.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring Break

I've decided to take a break in my Cannibal Corpse reviews and take some time off. I will still be posting a terrible album cover this weekend, though.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Terrible Album Covers: Six Feet Under - Bringer of Blood

You'd expect that someone would try to make a demonic skull look as threatening as possible, but this fellow just looks confused. To tell the truth, I included this more due to the inlay than anything else, which has horrible CGI-morphed pictures of the band members as monsters, which can be seen here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - The Bleeding


During the making of Tomb of the Mutilated, guitarist Bob Rusay got kicked out of Cannibal Corpse because the other members weren't satisfied with his playing. I don't really know how much influence he had over the songwriting (on the first few albums, only the lyrics are credited to individual band members, usually Barnes; the music is credited to the entire band), but the songs on The Bleeding are much simpler, with more traditional verse/chorus/verse structures. That said, this album is still heavy as hell, even if it's a bit less chaotic. It's not as dark as Tomb of the Mutilated, but I respect them for not just wanting to rehash that album (as awesome as it was).
My main issue with this album is that some of these songs just aren't as memorable as others. The more simplistic song structures are all right with me at first- "Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead" is one of the catchiest songs they've ever done, and the next two are very good- but after a while, these songs just get a little more predictable than those on the first three albums.
Thoughts on individual songs: "Return to Flesh" has a great opening riff, but a horribly out-of-place solo; "Force Fed Broken Glass" is one of the lesser songs here, but it has a hilarious bit where Barnes acts like the titular act has been performed on him, and the second, third and seventh tracks are all great songs whose titles I'd rather not mention here.
The Bleeding may be a step down from the earlier albums, but it's definitely worth a listen and a bit more accessible than other CC material.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Tomb of the Mutilated


Tomb of the Mutilated is one of the darkest, most psychotic slabs of death metal ever released. Barnes' vocal performance is just inhuman- he was never easy to understand before, but it's hard to make out that there even are any lyrics underneath his growl. At first, I thought that maybe his voice had been heavily processed, but there's a note on the album packaging saying that no vocal effects were used. The guitars aren't trebly like on Butchered, they're just dark and relentless as hell. The production is dense, too, but it actually makes the album even grittier and darker than it would have been otherwise. Even the drumming isn't terrible! There are also a couple of samples that I felt were unnecessary, but that's just a minor quibble.
However, it should be noted that this album is quite samey, even by Cannibal Corpse standards. Even I, who can many of their albums apart quite easily, have trouble distinguishing between some of the songs here. It's almost like it's one long death metal song with breaks every few minutes. Despite that, it's quite possibly my favorite album in the genre. If you listen to only one death metal album, make it this one; you may not enjoy it, but you won't soon forget it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Butchered at Birth


Cannibal Corpse's sophomore effort does away with some of the flaws of Eaten Back to Life, and the result is nothing short of awesome. The minute or so of guitar feedback that opens up the album is the gateway to Cannibal Corpse's dark realm of gore and murder. Butchered at Birth isn't quite as thrashy as its predecessor, but it's just as brutal, with none of the repetitive songwriting that plagued a few of the longer tracks on the first album. Barnes' vocals aren't quite as varied as before, but that's to the album's benefit; he's a lot better at deep growls than higher-pitched yelling and screaming. The guitars sound somewhat rickety, but that adds to the album's chaotic feel- I got the impression as if everything was just about to go flying off the rails, but never did.
Unfortunately, the drumming is just as crummy as before, but that's the only real drawback in evidence. Butchered at Birth is a fine album, and I can recommend it even more highly than the debut.