Album Review: Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black

By Francisco Zamudio

Longevity is an admirable quality almost lost in today’s music (and when we say “music” here on Metal Assault, 99.9% of the time we’re talking solely about rock and metal). Many factors contribute and affect a band, let alone a musician’s livelihood. To be able to say a band has survived and established a healthy career, one that allows you to live off of and for a span of 30 years – that speaks volumes. Dedication is also an admirable characteristic. The loyal death metal fanbase, “cvlt” or not, stays dedicated to this specific underground genre. Few underground bands can say they have reached mainstream status in a world where remaining “underground” is a badge of honor. Of those few, Cannibal Corpse has helped set the bar for what a successful death metal band can be. Now on their 14th full length release, CC is set to beat you with that bar that is ‘Red Before Black’, out November 3rd on Metal Blade.

There are so many details in this album that capture the very essence of what made CC so recognizable and distinguished in their own style. The rare progressiveness and technicality, the double-bass and bomb-blast pummeling, the violent themes that have been there through every record – this album has got it all. More emphasis was placed on allowing the riffs to breathe (or in this case, allowing the corpse to fester a bit more) and resulted in so many great catchy aspects. Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brian continue to shred our faces off with their amazing guitar work with solos to die for. Paul Mazurkiewicz has pushed himself on drums, strengthening his own style of the blast-beat. Broncos fan and World of Warcraft addict, Corpsegrinder fits the mold very well and doesn’t exert himself like in prior releases. And Alex Webster’s bass riffage continues to make your vital organs rupture.

Working once again with acclaimed producer Erik Rutan and his brain-child, Mana studios in CC’s home of Florida, it seemed all the skulls were aligned in their favor, achieving a solid and clear sound through every track, not losing any aspect throughout the record.

The negative mentality towards bands who’ve stayed true to form is hindered by an A.D.D. frame of mind. Bassist Alex Webster sums it up very well saying, “We’re proud to be part of a scene that has great, experienced bands that stick to their guns.” When you have bands like Dying Fetus, Suffocation and Floridian neighbors Obituary still putting out great records and touring relentlessly, it helps keep the scene youthful and undead. Death metal is an established form of underground music that’s here to stay, the leadership bands like these have shown by staying true to the genre is no doubt part of the reason it has such longevity.

And survive it will. Despite, or of no consequence through the excessive progressive state of mind, the tools who would continue to use terms like “post-death metal”, dismissing or nearly failing to acknowledge the veterans and seasoned sounds that true traditional “Old School Death Metal” has built. Although Godfathers like Chuck Schuldiner have left us with a legacy, a band like Cannibal Corpse has survived every trend, never having sacrificed what they are. They’ve never had to conform, be fashionable, exploit themselves nor promote some clothing name brands. Their style comes from the music, the way it’s supposed to be. Take it from me, even before the pop culture of comic books and The Walking Dead gained so much exposure, you had established artist Vince Locke of Deadworld helping create more of the vision of CC through their iconic album covers. On ‘Red Before Black’, though slightly tamed, he is giving us the (unfortunate) perspective of the victim this time.

So, not only is ‘Red Before Black’ nearly a throwback to Cannibal Corpse’s root and traditional sound, it is also celebrating and highlighting much of the fast and technical strength Cannibal has right now. If you weren’t familiar with them, you wouldn’t realize these guys have been at this for nearly 30 years. With no end in sight, they are the head of their class.

Rating: 9/10

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Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: November 3rd 2017

Track Listing:
01. Only One Will Die (3:24)
02. Red Before Black (3:12)
03. Code of the Slashers (4:46)
04. Shedding My Human Skin (3:29)
05. Remaimed (4:14)
06. Firestorm Vengeance (3:43)
07. Heads Shoveled Off (3:37)
08. Corpus Delicti (3:29)
09. Scavenger Consuming Death (4:33)
10. In the Midst of Ruin (3:26)
11. Destroyed Without a Trace (4:01)
12. Hideous Ichor (4:34)

Total Duration: 46:28

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