I’ve delayed the review of Cannibal Corpse’s 13th full-length album for a multitude of reasons. There’s the whole slavery thing. Got to put in 40 hours a week to ensure that the money from my employers gets properly transferred from one master to another. Then there’s that sloth/gluttony angle. Most days I’d rather be reading Marvel comics through a haze of pot fog in post-masturbatory, stuffed-crust nirvana. But those are pretty cheap excuses. First and foremost, I just haven’t been able to get into the record. I’d hoped that repeated listens over an extended period of time would remedy the situation, but who the fuck am I kidding? Cannibal Corpse is a first-listen band if ever there were one. Not even 50-plays-per-day exposure to lead single “The Murderer’s Pact” on MusicChoice’s Metal channel has warmed me up to said track alone. Look, I love this group and wanted to love this LP, and considering they’d been on such a roll of maximum-quality releases over the last decade… well, I had to be sure the problem wasn’t me. Sadly, for once it isn’t. The legends are simply on auto-bludgeon here. It isn’t so much the music. Webster, Mazurkiewicz, Barret & O’Brien are able to drop jaws on their worst day. As is often the case with Death Metal, it’s usually on the vocalist whether the end result flops or flourishes, and given this is the biggest Death Metal band in the world, that’s a ton of weight squarely placed on George Fisher’s barbarically broad shoulders. Proof that even one of the best —not to mention most easily recognizable— growlers on the globe can have a bad outing. Then again, terms like “bad” and “flop” may be somewhat harsh. “Unenthused” probably sums it up a little better. Corpsegrinder just doesn’t sound all that into it this go-‘round. It’s evident from opener “High Velocity Impact Splatter” —with its chrous of… you guessed it… “High velocity impact splatter”— that he’s in robot mode. Granted, it’s one monstrous angry-sounding robot, but the vocal patterns suffer nonetheless. When a guy screams repeatedly to “Fire up the chainsaw!” (see “Kill or Become”), and the listener at no point during the song feels even mildly motivated to fire up the chainsaw, something is amiss. But at least this cut is memorable in its own way. The same can’t be said for the majority of the album, which goes in one stabwound and out the other. Perhaps it’s time for a vacation. Satan knows they’ve earned it. At the end of the day, these guys are still the master butchers. A Skeletal Domain just isn’t going to make it into too many DM lifers’ Cannibal Corpse top fives when it’s all said and done.
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