It’s 2013 and Cannibal Corpse are celebrating their 25th anniversary of mutilating the ears and minds of the world. To mark this occasion the band are rereleasing their older albums on vinyl picture discs; on August 1st Gore Obsessed will re-drop. It’s not like we need an excuse to review a Cannibal Corpse album, but this seems like the perfect one anyway.
Originally released in 2002 via Metal Blade, Gore Obsessed was the eighth album to come from the death metal giants. It featured everything you would expect from a Cannibal Corpse release before even listening to the music, the album cover was a gory mess (and slightly confusing, is the main zombie guy wearing a cape made of faces? That’s pretty metal) and the song titles were the usual Cannibal Corpse poetry (Hatchet to the Head, Dormant Bodies Bursting).
Musically this was a strong release that showed a wide range in terms of song writing. The songs weren’t overly catchy, whilst this is slightly more common with death metal as there’s a lack of melody to jam itself in your head, it seems more pronounced this time. Even now I couldn’t hum how half the songs go. This isn’t exactly a problem as it keeps the music sort of fresh despite it being out for over a decade. One song breaks this mould though, Pit of Zombies, seems to have punctured the brains of the fans a lot more than any other track off the album and has become a popular one live.
Another strong aspect of this release was changes in tempos and moods, though it was all murderously brutal, some songs like When Death Replaces Life slows down the pace by a distance compared to the usual full speed death charge. This variety kept it interesting for the listener over the whole record instead of allowing them to zone out from repetition.
Corpsegrinder’s vocals were on top form throughout. I’ve always enjoyed the control he has over his growls, each word is enunciated and if you pay attention you can pick up most of the lyrics. A lot of the bands that followed in the footsteps of Corpse often missed out on that vocal technique, with the singer growling for the sake of growling and forsaking all sense of rhythm. Corpsegrinder’s vocals act as another rhythm instrument rather than a melodic device. He can also stick a good deal of emotion (granted said emotion is usually fear or anger) into the growls with the frantic delivery of some lines in the middle of Grotesque through to his screams in songs like Compelled to Lacerate.
He also bursts out two of his more brutal screams within one song, Hung and Bled, though to move away from Gore Obsessed for a second, nothing in my book can beat the scream he pulls off during Five Nails Through The Neck on the Kill album. That one sounds like he is genuinely in pain, like he stepped on an upturned plug, pin or worst of all, a piece of lego. Credit has to be given to Mutation of the Cadaver’s scream though, he holds that bastard.
As you would expect, Paul Mazurkiewicz’s drumming was as usual tighter than a gnats asshole. Coming back to the variety from earlier, he varied his drumming styles over the course of the album, avoiding constant double kick or repeating the same beat over and over. The Pat O’Brien and Jack Owen guitar duo was as strong as usual, with the fastest or slowest of riffs still being played with technical precision; the notes all stood out and didn’t blend into a death metal mush. Last but definitely not least, Alex Webster’s bass playing was second to none, with one of the “bassy” highlights coming in at the start of Mutation of the Cadaver
On some special editions, the band breaks away from death metal (that’s a bit of a lie) with a thrash song. The cover of Metallica’s was a strange one but a good one. Strange in that hearing Corpse play something catchy is pretty unfamiliar but anything that combines the twin powers of Corpse and Metallica has to be good!
If you missed Gore Obsessed first time around, now is the perfect time to pick it up.