I fucking love Cannibal Corpse. They represent a definition of that unbridled commodity requisite in death metal: sonic and conceptual brutality, boundary blasting lyricism and acute controversy. Now, in today’s landscape of ever-evolving extreme criterion, at a glance, their modus operandi may seem somewhat passé, but, frankly, you’re wrong. What they do represent, unequivocally, is a standard, and a reliable one at that. Sometimes, what we need more than anything is a paradigm to depend upon, and who am I to tell you that it shouldn’t be a group of mutilation minded, necrophagous Americans. Red Before Black is their fourteenth album, coming hot on the heels of a post-2005 winning streak that most bands, regardless of genre, would murder for. While I’ve unapologetically slobbered over every release since Kill, 2014’s A Skeletal Domain was the first record since that I didn’t immediately love, featuring an undeniable quantity of filler amidst the quality. So what’s the nutritional value going forward? Corpulent cadaver or skin and bones?

Red Before Black is a consummate Cannibal Corpse record, and it would be moronic to expect otherwise. All the hallmarks remain intact: undervalued technicality, the perpetual juggernaut that is George Fisher’s larynx and that signature propulsive assault. The album features even more of the prevalent thrash element that carved its way into its predecessor, and it’s certainly not unwelcome. As has become tradition, opener, “Only One Will Die,” makes a statement with relentless rhythms and hyper-memorable tremolos to accentuate the vocal patterns. The title track is next and its another high-speed beating wielding an indelible refrain – this is exactly what I require from this band, a bloody minded willingness to savage first, ask questions later.

One thing Cannibal Corpse exemplify is the intimate relationship metal shares with nomenclature. When I look at the track listing and see “Firestorm Vengeance” I immediately assume its quality, featuring a thick, deliberate riff that inexorably advances until breaking into an all out thrashing. To echo Al Kikuras, I’ve often found songs like “Death Walking Terror” and “Scourge of Iron” to be their heaviest, and the mid-paced nature of “Firestorm Vengeance” and “Shedding My Human Skin” are fine indulgences. The issues, however, begin to arise early. Repetition begets familiarity and having played the album a dozen times, I’m now close to the material, but there can be no denying that this was not initially the case. Unlike A Skeletal Domain, Red Before Black just doesn’t have the immediate songs that we affiliate the band with, and while much of the record is good, the kind of songwriting that gave us “Kill or Become” or all of Evisceration Plague just isn’t present. Homogenisation is alive and well here, afflicting the album’s second half in particular – going into the review, it was hard to differentiate the last few tracks, despite them being potent enough under increased scrutiny.

George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher remains the superior pugilist, with his signature rapacious delivery thundering ever on. His vocals are mixed a little lower than usual, and while I suspect it’s scientifically impossible to neuter their irrepressible nature, they do lack something of their usual impact. I also can’t help but notice a particular dearth of his blood-curdling screams; whether this is a creative choice or an inability to perform them, I’m not sure, but while their omission makes for a more uniform approach, he still manages to make his presence know.

The infamous rhythm section weaves throughout mercurial time signatures and Alex Webster’s bass is as deft as ever, but despite certain standouts like “Heads Shoveled Off” and “Scavenger Consuming Death,” the patterns are haunted by increasingly familiar shades of albums gone by. Red Before Black does, however, put a premium on heaviness – closer, “Hideous Ichor,” is riven with dense riffing and deceptive half-beats, packing enough of a punch to sate the unsavoury appetites of gore hounds near and far.

Red Before Black is a good album, and make no mistake, plenty of its material will absolutely crush live. Fervent fans of the band will no doubt enjoy the stock slaughter it greedily solicits, but more than ever, the need to alter the writing process is clear. Cannibal Corpse have followed a strict pattern for much of their career where great albums (The Bleeding, Bloodthirst) eventually give way to mediocre ones (The Wretched Spawn). On one hand, Red Before Black represents that need for revitalisation, which usually results in a stellar release; on the other, it’s still better than most, doing – often with unaccredited aplomb – exactly what it says on the tin. Namely, kill.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 272 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websistes: cannibalcorpse.bandcamp.com | www.cannibalcorpse.net | facebook.com/cannibalcorpse
Releases Worldwide: November 3rd, 2017

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  • Eli Valcik

    So I don’t really know that much about Death Metal to form an intelligent opinion about this band so I’m just going to tell all of you to watch Stranger Things season 2 and leave. See yall next review.

    • The Akerstache

      Holy shit season 2 is good, other than episode 7 being pure, worthless dog shit, it’s fantastic. It easily lived up to all the hype.

      • More than likely, it is going to setup unquestionably an avenue the series takes in Season 3. Patience.

        • The Akerstache

          [Notice: Mild spoilers ahead]

          That’s the problem. They spent an entire episode devoted entirely to setting up a new story line we won’t even see until the next season. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it wasn’t them spending an episode on one story with no deviations back to the main plot, but tossing that in near the very end of the season while the episode before it ended on a major cliffhanger just pissed me off. It would have been better if they had just done what they normally do and had the side plot conjoined with the other episodes instead of receiving an entire episode to itself. Just my two cents.

          • But it did have a point (many actually): It established what home/family really means to 11. It also tried to show that revenge, even if justified, has consequences too. Also, 11 learned how to channel her anger to increase her powers (which she THEN used at the end without giving it away).

            My point being is you sold it as “worthless dog shit” and I think that is being a bit harsh to say the least.

            If you are going to get angry, get angry about Bob. God damn it (and I knew it was coming which made it EVEN worse).

          • PapaRay

            [mild spoilers ahead as well]

            Have to agree with Alex. Episode 7 featured some powerful character moments for Eleven. Plus, the whole “no, but I can save them” moment was breathtaking.

            While I didn’t think it wise to suspend the main narrative for a whole episode, I don’t think it’s right at all to call the episode “worthless dog shit.” It served its purpose, giving Eleven some needed growth that a lesser show would’ve dragged out for half a season.

            Oh, and I’m looking forward to this CC album, as always.

          • The Akerstache

            At least we can agree to be excited for metal ;)

          • Eli Valcik

            soooooo I’m only on episode 4.

          • The Akerstache

            Oopsie…

            Sorry about that, I tried not to spoil too much.

          • I come here for comments on the album and get Stranger Things spoilers as I swiftly scroll past? Fuck’s sake guys. ]:-(
            Do we do ban requests around here?

          • The Akerstache

            Last I checked I preceded my first comment with with a helpful “[Notice: Mild spoilers ahead]” and while I talked about plot points I made it a point to try to avoid spoiling anything too badly.

            If you read through the discussion above, despite my warning that spoilers would be ahead, that’s on you, not me.

          • I saw the warning but there’s no way of accurately scrolling past on a phone and the character death statement flashed out as I scrolled.

            That all said, it has since occurred to me that I could and should have simply collapsed the thread and then scrolled past to face myself the pain so yes I guess this one’s on me. Lesson learned. :(

          • The Akerstache

            I’m very sorry, that’s my bad. :/

          • The Akerstache

            The problem is those were all points previously tackled. We already knew 11 wanted a home/family, her relationship with Hopper throughout season 2 illustrated her desires for a normal life beautifully, as did her search for her mother. Hell, the entire first season dealt with her making friends and her feeling love. Those are issues that have been tackled before, and in much better ways with characters we had learned to love. And if shes anywhere as smart as we have been led to believe over the past two seasons she would already know that anger helps her channel her powers. I learned absolutely nothing new about her in that episode, it just furthered a plot for a later season.

            Finally, the middle point. That is not something we been shown previously, but I can’t say we needed an entire episode of filler side plot just to teach 11 that revenge has consequences.

            Maybe “worthless dog shit” was too harsh, but when a show that has held itself to such a high standard as Stranger Things does a filler episode like this it feels off. It messes with the pace of the season, repeats stuff we already know, and introduces plot devices instead of characters. How many of 8’s gang can you name off the top of your head? I can name Axle and that’s it, and I watched that episode not much more than fifteen hours ago.

            It was simply a bad episode of an otherwise fantastic show, but when a bad episode pops up among a show full of diamonds, it looks and smells a helluva a lot like dog shit.

            And feel free to crucify me for this, but I liked Bob.

          • I love Bob! That’s my point!

          • The Akerstache

            My bad lol. We can be angry about his death together then!

          • h_f_m

            It’s also nice to see there’s OTHERS out there besides 11 still kicking around. That episode served many purposes, I was happy it existed. It was a good bridge in the season.

  • Kapitein Bochelbaard

    Cannibal Corpse, defying AMG’s law of diminishing recordings since their goddamn inception.

    Gotta say tho, the first two tracks released sounded more ‘fun’ to me than ASD, that itself would draw me to this new block of undaunted consistency.

  • RuySan

    There’s a notable absence of George Fischer’s neck in that photo. A shame.

    • André Snyde Lopes
      • MetalMartin

        Hot-dogs grinding! What a great picture!! This is making my day.

      • Nukenado

        It took me a second to realize this was photoshopped.

      • Eli Valcik

        Reminds me of that Abbath hotdog picture (which is one of my desktop backgrounds)

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        hahaha!!!

    • Kronos

      What neck?

      • manimal

        That put a smile on all of my chins.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    THIS MUSIC IS AS HORNY AS IT IS DEPRESSING. THE PLAYLIST EVOKES MOTIONLESS, ANTISEPTIC COITUS. IT EVOKES TWO TIDE PENS IN A PLASTIC SALE TUB. IT EVOKES LYSOL WIPES. IT EVOKES THE SMOOTH, GENDERLESS SLOPES OF A COUPLE OF UNDRESSED DOLLS. THIS IS SEX MUSIC ONLY IN THE SENSE THAT TWO PAGES PRESSED TOGETHER IN A NEW WILLIAMS SONOMA CATALOG IS SEX.

    • AshCinderSmoke

      Same

    • +1 upvote for the copy, paste, and ALLCAPS

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        YER WELCOME

    • Tofu muncher

      motionless coitus. Great. I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonite thinking what the hey is motionless (and antiseptic) coitus.

  • The Akerstache

    Cannibal Corpse have never been a band that I’ve gotten into. When I was first exploring growls in music and death metal they were too heavy for me, but now that I’m more versed in that style I still have to return to them. It’s very possible this album will be the one I try to explore them with.

    • Same boat AK. The only CC I knew growing up was “Corrosion of Conformity.” Or maybe that is really CoC…but you get the point…

      • The Akerstache

        Oh shit, never listened to Corrosion of Conformity before… just listened to “Clean My Wounds” and feel like I’ve been missing out.

        • See, talking to me is always enlightening! LOL!

        • Nag Dammit

          You have missed a lot my friend. The riffs on Deliverance slay.

      • Ferrous Beuller

        Blind, Deliverance and Wiseblood is where it’s at!

  • Jaime VG

    I haven´t listened to the whole thing but the two tracks released sounded more to the point and less technical, I love when they slow thigs down like in Scourge of Iron so I hope this album has some of that. While I kind of agree that the band sticks to a very well defined formula, they always managed to make albums that sound different if you pass through the wall of sound and the vocals. Unbelivable that they have made a career playing this music. Maximum respect.

  • Nukenado

    Never got into Cannibal Corpse so don’t know if that’s their logo or what (like Dying Fetus’ Impact font logo) but that font looks pretty bad.

  • Gage

    Never been a fan of these guys. It baffles me that they are considered a death metal staple.

    • The Akerstache

      Even though I’m not a fan either, they have always struck me as a death metal staple based entirely off them being bare bones death metal band. They’re as inoffensive as death metal gets (how ironic) and are more often than not a gateway band for many. Kinda how Metallica and Pantera are, staples because they’re usually people’s introductions to certain elements of heavier music.

      • Gage

        I have nothing against “gateway” bands but Cannibal Corpse never struck me as a “gateway” to death metal. Other 80s death metal bands sound way more accessible. Or maybe that is just me. “Death” was my transition into death metal.

        • Eli Valcik

          Death and Bolt Thrower are the some of the only DM bands that I LOVE, I’m not too bug into CC because I’m just not too big into that style of accessible melo death. I’l just slink back into my Black Metal corner.

          • Gage

            Can’t ever go wrong with Death or Bolt Thrower.

          • Eli Valcik

            I’m just very very picky when it comes to Death Metal.

          • drug_genosh

            id recommend going back to early 90s CC, not that you’ll like it (hell, I don’t even know if I do) but modern CC is almost unrecognizable to me. Check out ‘tomb of the mutilated’, its almost proto-slam/brutal/tech death metal – no where near ‘melo death’

          • JeremyZero

            Calling CC melodeath is one of the weirder mis-genre’ings I’ve ever encountered.

          • Ferrous Beuller

            Melodeath?

          • Morbidly Obese Angel

            In what universe is Cannibal Corpse accessible melo-death?

          • Eli Valcik

            To me it is. it’s basic Death Metal, while played good, I’ve found it to be Death Metal at it’s simplest form. I’m not a fan of CC so hate me all you want.

          • Morbidly Obese Angel

            That’s fine if you’re not a CC fan but my question was how are they melo-death? Just because you’re not a Cannibal Corpse fan doesn’t mean that they’re “accessible melo-death”.

          • Eli Valcik

            Subjectively, I found them easy to listen to. To be accessible isn’t an insult either. For example I find Immortal, one of my favorite bands to be fairly accessible Black Metal.

      • Eli Valcik

        This band is like a checklist for basic death metal bands.

  • Septic

    Cannibal Fozzy and the Salvation Colony
    featuring,
    Enzo and the Glory Ensemble Corpse

    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6bf0250b2e610e48a95d04b74a110c8cde9ad56a664a186b6b73373c8f990714.jpg

    • André Snyde Lopes

      What the hell am I looking at?

      • Septic

        Why the latest ‘super group’ of course! It features members of other bands reviewed by none other than AMG!

      • Hammersmith

        Apparently you can design things in Preview.

  • Nag Dammit

    Tetragrammacide have a new album. I don’t know why I’ve posted this, I just can’t contain my excitement and anticipation for what I expect to be the first -0.5 score on AMG.

  • sir_c

    Sometimes, one dimension is all you need.
    Mediocre it may be, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

  • Erich Sorenson

    The Wretched Spawn was a damn good album.

    • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

      Fuck yes it is

  • JL

    3.5 is more accurate but nice review. it’s a killer album!!

  • Jack Tors

    The band has gone as far as it can and bores me. Fisher has worn out his welcome. Same thing over and over again. I’ll stick to the Barnes era cannibal corpse. Nothing will ever touch the first 4 albums.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Just goes to show how important Cannibal still are as an institution that 20 years on we can still have the Barnes v Fisher debate. While I overwhelmingly prefer the latter, The Bleeding will always be my absolute favourite.

    • Here’s Johnny

      they play 1500 capacity clubs in UK/Europe, they are bigger than ever.

  • The Akerstache

    Listening on bandcamp right now, this is very very good.

    • I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it. It’s always great when I introduce people to albums I’ve loved for years and they get a kick out of them too.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Cannibal Corpse = immediate buy from me. Been a fan since getting Eaten Back to Life on cassette

  • Gage

    That is pretty damn good. Thanks

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Worst album Corpse have ever done in my opinion. uggh

  • Here’s Johnny

    I’m enjoying this one a lot, loving the scaled back less technical/more thrashy sound. it is kinda refreshing compared to the complexity of last couple albums.

    3.5/5 at least and you are right, these new songs will crush everything in its path live.

  • admgloval

    Bloodthirst is their best IMO. That is the album I always go back to listen to.

  • Matt Hunter

    Like most bands who pretty much stick to a set formula with minor deviations between albums (Motorhead, ACDC, et al) aside from the classics, the subtle differences between their albums are going to appeal to different people. For example, my favorite CC albums are Bloodthirst and The Wretched Spawn, and the last album that I enjoyed thoroughly was Evisceration Plague, though there are many who tout Torture or Kill as being far better latter day CC records. This new one tickles me in a way the last couple records didn’t due to its simpler, thrashier approach as well as some experimentation with dissonance.

  • Sheitan Moha

    Hmm, as I have read in other reviews The Skeleton Domains was more adventurous and better overall, Red Before Black is good, but not as demanding mentally as The Skeleton Domains.

    What I am impressed with though is that Cannibal Corpse, contrary to their Corpse side, never stagnated (or maybe this is just what a corpse go through when going inside a cannibal digestive system ;))

    Different guitar sounds, even some Decapitated sounding trick….

    And this is why Cannibal Corpse are still great, they have evolved (ok maybe not Corpse Grinder, but hey, the guy’s voice is still difficult to emulate).

    toward a 4 stars

    S