Originally written by Jordan Campbell
Honestly, you’d be forgiven for dismissing Cannabis Corpse before hearing a single note. Such judgment wouldn’t be rash or irrational; of the numerous, not-at-all-universal truths that have been kinda-proven throughout the course of heavy metal’s history, two can be readily applied when scrutinizing Cannabis Corpse‘s veneer:
1) Weed-themed bands not named Sleep tend to suck mightily.
2) Parody bands—as a general rule—are a complete fucking waste of time.
At first glance, it seems that Cannabis Corpse‘s embodiment of these characteristics makes them an easy mark for backhanded derision. (They over-rely on punny song titles that pay head-clubbing homage to Deicide and Morbid Angel, and couple them with lyrics that painstakingly detail the frivolities of chiba complusion.) Allegedly, serious riffophiles haven’t developed a tolerance for such goofiness.
But here’s the catch: Cannabis Corpse are serious metalheads. Sure, their lyrical bent is borderline retarded, but if you’re listening to death metal for the lyrical content, you’re doing it wrong. And, yeah, the band name is a bit of a hurdle, but it’s a leap worth taking, because these dudes have some serious fucking chops. They put them to phenomenal use on Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise, a strong contender for the title of 2011’s most infectious death metal album.
Death metal is in a weird state right now. Old-schoolers are perpetually vying to out-McEntee or out-Sunlight each other, while the new-schoolers have yet to meet a brick wall they haven’t wanted to sweep clean. Refreshingly, Cannabis Corpse rests in this kickass, medium-school limbo: the grooves are quick, the riffs are built to snap necks, and the onus is onfun. CC brings that fun in spades. Or bags, or whathaveyou.
The first few minutes of the record fly by without triggering much in the way of smile-cracking or spontaneous horn-throwing; Their mid-period Cannibal Corpse cloning is deftly executed, if not thrilling. (Slight digression: said Cannibal era peaked with Bloodthirst, which seems to be an oddly underrated offering. “Blowtorch Slaughter” for the fucking win.) But about midway through “Blame it on Bud,” guitarist / bassist Phil Hall (of Municipal Waste infamy) locks into a crushing riff with his kit-wielding brother (lovingly referred to here as “Hallhammer”), and shit gets real.
From here on, Cannabis Corpse rips out a rapid succession of dominant grooves and too-smart twists that defy their self-styled screwball status. “Immortal Pipes” slows things down to a swing, closes with some classic soloing, and opens the gates to the album’s shining second half. “Blaze of Torment” assaults with gloriously trigger-free double bass, “Gateways to Inhalation” is locked in tighter than a tweaker’s calm-down spliff, and “Where the Kind Live” (see the pattern here?) swings spine-splitting hammers with face-smashing glee.
All told, Beneath Grow Lights… is a frills-free, balls-out affair. Surprisingly unshackled by the schlocky shenanigans that their gimmick implies—as well as the tired-ass trappings of the current scene’s trendwinds—Cannabis Corpse have provided deathfiends with a groove-addled reprieve from their stone-serious daily grind. Leave your prejudgment at the doorway to the “Chapel of Bowls.”