Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade)

Cannibal Corpse show the rest of the pack how death metal is done on A Skeletal Domain.
Release Date: 
16 Sep 2014 (All day)

Death metal seems to be going through a healthy renaissance period at the moment. There has not been a revolution in the style, but in the last year or two a significant number of strong death metal albums have been released, many from stalwarts of the genre. Immolation, Vader, Deicide, Autopsy, Arch Enemy, Carcass, the Fenriz approved Obliteration and Antropomorphia (also on Metal Blade) are a few examples. This is all the more remarkable given that some of those bands have been around for decades. A Skeletal Domain can proudly stand alongside all the recent strong to excellent death metal releases, and in its own right, is the best Cannibal Corpse album since Kill. Need one say more? Well, yes, but that sentence should tell Cannibal Corpse fans everything they need to know about the strength and vitality of their latest album.

The brutality begins with High Velocity Impact Spatter (one has to admire how inventive and amusing Cannibal Corpse can still be with their song titles) a straight ahead death metal tune which sets the scene for the rest of the album. Kill or Become, by far the catchiest song on A Skeletal Domain, has the whole band in top form. When George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher roars ‘Fire up the chainsaw!’ one immediately feels ready to pick up a chainsaw and fend off hordes of zombies. Alex Webster’s bass lays down the skeletal framework of the song, while simultaneously weaving its own unique path. The two guitarists, Rob Barrett on rhythm and Pat O’Brien on lead, have mastered their interplay with each other, and it shows on songs like Kill or Become.

A particular highlight of The Murderer’s Pact is a gorgeous solo which punctuates the song shortly after the three minute mark. Funeral Cremation, the most atmospheric track on the album, conjures up images in its initial stages of a lone figure standing atop a windswept, snow capped mountain, while a dead body before them stains the snow red. Guitar buzz slowly creeps in, and one is soon warmly welcomed back into Cannibal Corpse’s neck snapping embrace. Along with the standout drumming, guitars and bass are at their most menacing, making this one of the darkest songs musically, and if you pay attention to the lyrics, lyrically too.

Icepick Lobotomy is classic Cannibal Corpse territory, in both musical and lyrical terms. On Vector of Cruelty, the guitars occasionally cut back a little, enabling the bass to step in to provide a lead. This is sincerely appreciated, given that Alex Webster is one of the best heavy metal bassists around. His contribution to this album is generally of such high quality that it is sure to generate interest among listeners in wanting to play bass, and gives existing bass players killer songs to play along to.

Bloodstained Cement is a real thrasher, sure to please fans of Eaten Back to Life. The major difference between this song and one off the first album by Cannibal Corpse is the growth in musicianship and dramatically improved, crystalline and polished production. Hollowed Bodies is a powerful closer, and there are moments where the blast beats, vocals, guitar and bass merge into one furious sonic bloc. At those moments, it sounds as if Cannibal Corpse are doing their very best to summon a tank made of flesh and bones from hell.

Cannibal Corpse sound fresh and inspired on A Skeletal Domain, a real achievement for a band releasing its thirteenth album. New producer Mark Lewis has evidently helped revitalise their sound, just as Erik Rutan did on Kill. Every band member makes substantive contributions. Whether that’s Paul Mazurkiewicz’s stellar, well placed double kick drumming, Fisher’s multidimensional vocals, the groove laden crunchy guitars, or Webster’s bass mastery. Short, succinct, and to the point, A Skeletal Domain leaves you hungry for more Cannibal Corpse - exactly how a band want listeners to feel. A quintessential death metal album par excellence.