Originally written by Chris Redar
A summary of the review you are about to read: Red Before Black, the latest from Cannibal Corpse, is very good and highly enjoyable. However, the band has not “outdone itself” as it were. Cannibal Corpse cannot perform said act, as there is no “best” CC album—only your personal favorite. Some of you (idiots) prefer the cro-magnon gross-out factor of the Chris Barnes era, while some other (very smart) people prefer the much better and well-rounded George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher material that makes up two thirds of the band’s catalog.
Label: Metal Blade Records.
Certain circles of DM fans like to complain about drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz’s bare-bones style of percussion. These people are completely wrong, and they also have the wrong idea about the band in general. Imagine, if you will, a Cannibal Corpse album with Jon Longstreth behind the kit. Sure, that one album would be a novelty on its own, with the acrobatic technicality and the hyper-speed gravity blasting, but then what? What’s the last Origin album where the concept of fast drums blew you away? Part of Corpse’s long-term appeal is in valuing songwriting and riffwork over modern-day bombast, especially in the drum department. Mazurkiewicz is a true rhythm player and a member of a band–he isn’t trying to steal the show. He also probably inspired your current favorite drummer, so zip it, you damn wiener kids.
Speaking of the rhythm section, Alex Webster is still in this band and is my favorite bass player of all time (with apologies to our own Andrew Edmunds). His distorted lead-in for “Scavenger Consuming Death” is atypically straightforward, but DAMN if it doesn’t kick the shit off handily. It’s impossible to overstate how important Webster is to this band as the chain-link from Mazurkiewicz to guitarists Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien. Bands lose founding members all the time, but without Webster, there is no Cannibal Corpse. He’s that good and his style is crucial. And his hair is magnificent.
It’s very easy to use words like “vintage” and “classic” when talking about a band that’s been around since 1988, but doing that with Cannibal Corpse seems disingenuous as the band continues to sound passionate about its craft. Two other huge OG death metal bands released albums this year (I won’t name names, but Obituary and Suffocation) that were listless and uninspired. Cannibal Corpse, for better or worse, has never been guilty of that. Even their less celebrated material is still just pretty good. And they flirt with the great-to-essential category much more often than not. Red Before Black is somewhere between those two descriptors, and overall it’s rock-solid and the band’s most brutal effort since Kill. Where history will put it in the pantheon of CC albums remains to be seen, but for now it’s a vital 2017 death metal album in a year already stacked with essentials.