Red Before Black (Metal Blade) marks the 14th studio album from the all-mighty Cannibal Corpse. The band will forever claim a spot as one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, helping to bring death metal into the limelight, and unleashing 30 years of devastating music. Their consistent brutality and horror themed metal has led the way for years in inspiring new bands to play and create the heaviest and most sinister sounding work they can. One may wonder how a band like Cannibal Corpse can continuously pump out new music revolving around just straight up killing people year after year. Well the answer to that is quite simple actually – pure love and passion for the music and genre of horror. It doesn’t take much to find an interview with Alex Webster or George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher sharing their love for horror and death metal. This passion is what has continued to feed each Cannibal Corpse record, fueling the band’s fire and rage to create masterful works of terror. So where exactly does Red Before Black stack up to the band’s previous work?
Pre-2009’s Evisceration Plague, the Cannibal Corpse instrumentation contained a strong sense of murkiness. Every aspect of the band came through with this grimy and wretched flavor, adding to the repulsion of the lyricism. 2012’s Torture was a terrific record, still holding onto these qualities (even with a crisp production). 2014’s A Skeletal Domain presented a much cleaner production, keeping the songs to a fairly straight forward drive, and not having the strongest sense of murderous death metal energy. It’s with great pleasure to say that Red Before Black brings back just enough of that gritty tinge, and unleashes a pummeling treat of all out classic death metal.
Opening track “Only One Will Die” is a key indicator of this terrific balance. It’s immediate drive in savage drumming and shredding guitar work leads the way for an ever beating bass as Corpsegrinder screams away. The production flows with the rage, but carries that classic grit that Cannibal Corpse is so known for. The track comes like a kick to the face, and makes for an incredible song to start with, as the lyrics burst out, “Kill!/ The only answer/ Hate!/ Can only end/ With death!” The album then leads into the self-titled track, following through the consistent beat down in drumming, the guitar riffs riding with a vibrant rage. The song feels like a gem one would find off of Evisceration Plague, really nailing the perfect middle-ground of sound and style when considering the band’s more recent work and production.
“Code of the Slashers” is quite similar to this mentality, and proves how the band can really center in on such a tremendous sinister style. The guitar tone lingers in each riff like a stalker in the shadows, eventually leading the track into a burst of hysteric instrumentation. This change from terror in the dark, to maniac on the loose presents this thrilling shift that complements each aspect. The lyricism is at some of its best in this track, with Corpsegrinder stating, “Deliverance of pain upon the stroke of our knives/ Predatory impulses controlling our minds/ You make a sound we’ll end your fucking life.”
Cannibal Corpse continue to bring even more savagery in “Heads Shoveled Off”. The song whips around with a sense of anxiety, primarily thanks to the rampant drum work. “Scavenger Consuming Death” lingers briefly before taking off in relentless pursuit. The riffs rise to hellish wildness, to low tones of murky horror. The drumming fires off with pure insanity, the bass and vocals pounding away in a barbaric manner. The final track of the album, “Hideous Ichor”, is a chaotic blend of ballistic guitar work and drumming. The song shifts from this overwhelming delivery of clashing and riffs, into a much smoother tone of dread that drones within the guitar playing. Towards the end, the guitar lifts into a brilliant solo, as the rest of the instrumentation picks up the overall tempo, making for a stunning finish.
Red Before Black is a terrific Cannibal Corpse record. Taking the best aspects of the band’s sound from such works as Torture and Evisceration Plague, the album presents a truly evil tinge throughout its brutal composition. Everyone in the band is sincerely on point, and in particular with the instrumentation, displays a nice range of style and sound. Red Before Black is a work that proves how a band can build upon their structure, stretching out their talents, while keeping to their core artistry. Cannibal Corpse’s 14th record is a terrific release that will please fans looking for horrifying death metal and pure brutality.