I have to be honest with you: when I first heard that the new Cannibal Corpse album was going to be produced by Mark Lewis, a man responsible for recording more modern-sounding bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder and DevilDriver, I was not at all convinced.
It was really my sheer faith in the band and the knowledge that all past gambles had resulted in success that helped me keep an open mind – still, I was a little nervous before hearing “A Skeletal Domain”, the band’s thirteenth studio album to date, for the first time.
So, what were the fruits of this unusual collaboration? Surprisingly enough, Lewis’ modern production techniques have really helped enhance the strongest elements in the band’s music; namely George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s aggressive vocals and Paul Mazurkiewicz’s relentless but also technically adept drum beats, the latter producing many highlight moments throughout this twelve track release.
Though slightly ‘buried’ in the overall mix, Alex Webster’s bass lines prove once again to be the foundation stone of each of the compositions on offer while the guitar duet of Rob Barrett/ Patrick O’Brien have produced some very interesting parts for the album, which, at times, are more Thrash and Punk orientated than the average Cannibal Corpse fan is perhaps used to. Good stuff? You bet!
Following a short intro, “High Velocity Impact Spatter” provides the first of many massive-sounding riffs of the album and truly benefits from Fisher’s cleverly varied vocal performance.
Up-tempo and full of energy “Sadistic Embodiment” would certainly appeal to fans of bands like Deicide, while both the sensational Slayer-influenced “Kill Or Become” and the follow-up, same-titled “A Skeletal Domain” find the band happy to indulge in rhythmically challenging themes and ideas.
While Thrash Metal seems to also have been the source of inspiration behind “Headlong Into Carnage”, the duet of “The Murderer’s Pact” / “Funeral Cremation” contain between them enough head banging riffs to cause your neck some serious damage.
Starting with the groove-laden “Icepick Lobotomy”, the latter part of the album contains some of the most impressive material on offer. Though far slower in tempo when compared with its predecessors, “Vector Of Cruelty” does a pretty good job keeping a good momentum going, enabling the dynamically superior “Bloodstained Cement” to sweep everything in its wake.
I hope that old-school fans of Cannibal Corpse will not find the Punk-influenced riffs of “Asphyxiate To Resuscitate” too difficult to handle, especially as the songs feature one of the catchiest refrains on offer but, even if that ends up being the case, closing track “Hollowed Bodies” contains enough old school magic to return them safely back to their comfort zone.
For a Death Metal band that’s been constantly recording music over the last twenty six years, Cannibal Corpse have done a pretty sterling job keeping their musical identity intact while, at the same time, avoiding the trap of presenting their loyal fans with re-hashed themes and ideas, and “A Skeletal Domain” is proof of this.
In studio album number thirteen Buffalo’s finest have not only packed in a healthy number of solid, skull-crushing riffs for us but also offer some truly challenging technical/thematical material the quality of which suggests that there’s plenty of go left in this old and well-tried Death Metal machine.
Ladies and gentlemen, the kings of Death Metal are back in action and they’re in no mood for prisoners!