Oct 202023

(Here’s DGR‘s review of the new Cannibal Corpse album, which is out now on Metal Blade Records.)

In all the decade-plus I’ve been writing for this site – try not to think about that too much – and metal in general, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the chance to write about a Cannibal Corpse album. With a career that has also spanned multiple decades and with a fair bit of cultural cachet to their name outside of heavy metal in general, Cannibal Corpse were long a cultural pillar before I’d even considered pursuing this as a way to distract from the outside world.

You don’t reach a point like that without having the talent to back it up though, because even if Cannibal Corpse had decided to rest on their laurels after their first few releases, you’d be hard pressed to say whether or not they’d still be as big now. The thing with Cannibal Corpse is that although they’ve been known mostly for gore-soaked lyrics, horrific artwork, and movie cameos, is the band are shockingly consistent with their output. They found a core blueprint that worked for them ages ago and have stuck close to it, guaranteeing an overall discography that is surprisingly solid – even if the actual surprises might come further and further apart nowadays.

Photo by Alex Morgan

Time was, a Cannibal Corpse album could come out and you’d only need two details: It is a Cannibal Corpse album and Corpsegrinder is fronting it. That’s it. Any familiarity with the band and you’d have a general idea of the slab of meat you’re in for. We’d high five, call it a day, and head out to Pancake Circus and get a twelve-stack to kill time.

Yet in one of the rare instances wherein the outside world does tap on the acrylic of this six by six box that I call an office, there seems to be an oddly renewed interest in Corpse-team. Not because there’ve been any stunning revelations from them lately – even their lineup changes were fairly conservative and expected – but more so because – for lack of a better way to describe it – people have been ‘surprised’ by how solid their last couple have been. Which is the main reason why Chaos Horrific drew me in.


For starters, Chaos Horrific is a Cannibal Corpse album and Corpsegrinder is fronting it. All the talk of surprise in the opening passages here is sort of swept aside within the starting bass guitar hit on Chaos Horrific. Cannibal Corpse are creatures of considerable consistency and that hasn’t changed with Chaos Horrific. All of the unrestrained violence implied within Cannibal Corpse‘s overall discography is still present here and Corpsegrinder‘s hoarse and throat-rending yell is still in the spotlight. His voice is so recognizable you could pick the dude out of a crowd of yelling sports fans. Place it over a wall of death metal guitar and it is going to sound like Cannibal Corpse and in that way, Chaos Horrific sounds like Cannibal Corpse. Cool? Let’s high five, we’ve got a breakfast date to keep.

Chaos Horrific‘s reason for standing out so much is that it seems like Cannibal Corpse took their previous release Violence Unimagined and said, “alright, now what if we do it faster?”, and came back with ten songs where the bulk of them are thrashier than you might expect. Cannibal Corpse are already known for some relentless tempos, yet they do have their fair share of mid-tempo guitar chugging and sinister sewage surfing. Chaos Horrific has a few of those but weirdly enough, those stand out on this album bcause there are a ‘few of those’, vs ones that fall more in line with the opening two numbers, “Overlords Of Violence” and “Frenzied Feeding”.

The one-two volley that opens Chaos Horrific is the one that lays out the entrails of the album for you as a listener, because it is those two songs that lay much of the boundary work that Cannibal Corpse operate within on this release and most of the songs here are a variation on both the themes and the breakneck speed of those two. “Frenzied Feeding”, especially, is manic enough to whip a crowd into a legit frenzy of its own and could easily make the live cut if the band are able to find time to squeeze it in somewhere among their gigantic collection of material to choose from.

The slower meat-grinders like “Summoned For Sacrifice” are where, weirdly enough, Chaos Horrific loses a little bit of its momentum. Death metal has long made the sort of sinister rumbling song part of its identity and many of those have been built out of simplistic parts – easy to understand, super easy to get across to people – and often built to sound exceedingly evil. They work as songs and help break up many of the faster moments on albums where it can seem like groups are just tumbling end over end in the next circle-pit wall-of-human style rush, but Chaos Horrific has some very strong moments like that this time around, so much so that when Cannibal Corpse do slow down even by a hair, it feels more like the band giving you a breather than the next four-minute ass-whooping.

“Summoned For Sacrifice” has a sing-song quality to it, its lyrics slowly ladled out with a hoarse bellow and big guitar part following. You could hum the progression to yourself for days as the drums behind them hit with an almost Obituary Dying Of Everything-esque thunder quality to them. But being positioned around songs like “Frenzied Feeding”, “Blood Blind” – because alliteration is still fun for cavemen as well, not just us “writerly” dorks – and “Vengeful Invasion”, and you can understand how you might get a little impatient just to get back to having them kick the crap out of you for three and a half minutes instead. That’s why every few songs it seems like Cannibal Corpse position a song like the impressive “Pitchfork Impalement” to keep a strong fire burning behind the listener.

Bands with multi-decade careers often get there by being the bedrock upon which a genre is built. You become the monolith that people see for miles, unmoving and never changing. The ‘stubborn pillar of consistency’ that people look to often comes from one of those groups wherein a particular disc run may stop mattering after a while, and instead just mixing up the whole song collection becomes the standard listening experience. These groups exist as a constant seven to eight point five if you’re grading on a scale.

Cannibal Corpse‘s discography found its groove ages ago and nowadays the surprise from the band comes from the times when they’re leaping past consistently ‘good’ and into ‘good-to-great’ territory for an album, and that’s where Chaos Horrific lies. There are songs within Chaos Horrific that by sheer tempo alone and quick-moving riffs could cause a storm within a crowd. If anything, it’s like Cannibal Corpse decided to iterate upon Violence Unimagined prior to it by going, ‘well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…but what if we went faster?’.

Thus, Chaos Horrific is a little slimmer but equally as mean. It is still, as stated above, very much a Cannibal Corpse album – the title track will lay that out for you, entrails and all – but it is also enjoyable because it still maintains a strong seal of quality, so that the statement ‘a Cannibal Corpse album’ still means something as opposed to just seeming like a tenured group resting on its laurels.



  1. I never listened to Cannibal Corpse just because the gore theme doesnt do it for me. Same with any other gory bands, I avoided them all for a long time (like Exhumed). Well, those days are over cause I love this record (Exhumed too). These bands are just too good to ignore.
    PS-I still refuse to listen to “fucked with a knife” though. too nasty.

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