Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black Review

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.

Release date: November 3, 2017.
Label: Metal Blade Records.
Red Before Black leaves behind most of the technical aspects of previous efforts A Skeletal Domain and Torture, opting for savagery and a surprising amount of anger. It’s quite jarring at first to be not rocked with a rapid-fire intro, but with a ferocious and threatening groove in “Only One Will Die.” “Code of the Slashers” is a CC slow jam-to-thunderous assault of which almost every album has at least one (“Gallery of Suicide” and its inverse “Dormant Bodies Bursting” spring to mind). Cannibal Corpse has never been an exceptionally speedy band, but one of the over-arching themes here is forceful delivery over beats per minute and the approach works well. Corpsegrinder’s vocals feature no isolated high shrieks and the fretwork often dwells on the top half of the neck. It’s almost less of a straightforward death metal album and more of an insanely brutal thrash album–“almost” being key here as this is still a Cannibal Corpse album and thrash mostly sucks.

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.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

  1. Mazurkeiwicz is underrated and under appreciated. His style is just as much a part of their sound as Webster’s. The only person I could see replacing him would be Lee Harrison of Monstrosity.


  2. Just had to say. Suffocation’s …Of The Dark Light album, is absolutely killer!! Their best since Pierced From Within….oh yeah. The new Cannibal album kills!!!


    1. Suffo’s new one got a lot of hate that I don’t get. Sure, the drums are triggered as fuck, and it may not top their last one, but I got what I wanted out of it. At least it’s not Blood Oath which I was greatly disappointed with.


  3. So this website still exists! I remember when you guys were at, and then one day, you were gone. And now I’ve found you again.

    My pre-order of this album arrived today, and it’s ripped my damn head off. This is a complete monster of an album. And Paul’s drumming has never sounded better.


    1. Welcome back, Dave!


  4. Cannibal Corpse…could you call them underrated? They aren’t often uttered in the same breath as other death metal legends like Morbid Angel, Carcass, Death, and the like. But damn if their catalogue isn’t among the most consistent in terms of quality, and they’ve never stopped bringing it. I have lots of respect for them, and agree with everything in this review minus the line “thrash mostly sucks.”


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