Definitive Death Metal Albums: Cannibal Corpse - Kill
Written by Steve Jenkins
Whenever you utter the words "Cannibal Corpse" you usually get two reactions, the first one being a disparaging sneer or a remark stating their disdain for such grotesque and horrible music. Or, you get the response of "F*ck yeah! Cannibal Corpse rule!" But it's fair to say, whether you love them or hate them, that almost everyone has heard of Cannibal Corpse and they are certainly one of the most definitive death metal bands of all time.
Originally hailing from Buffalo - New York, the gore obsessed death metal veterans are now based out of Tampa - Florida. The band are your stereotypical death metal outfit featuring long hair, punishing riffs, plenty of headbanging, gruesome lyrics and album artwork. What's not to love? Oh and the lead vocalist goes by the name of "Corpsegrinder" and is a massive World Of Warcraft nerd who is also addicted to playing claw machines to win soft, cuddly toys.
But they are also an extremely tight live act, with incredible precision, technicality, energy and studio quality sound. They do deserve the acclaim and status of death metal elite, and are certainly one of the more commercially successful extreme metal bands. With platinum albums under their belt and a very famous appearance on Ace Ventura which definitely got them a tonne of attention.
So who are Cannibal Corpse?
George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher – Vocals
Pat O'Brien – Lead guitar
Rob Barrett – rhythm guitar
Alex Webster – Bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – Drums
A deadly combination of hardened veterans; Pat having played in thrash metal giants, Nevermore, Alex Webster with his fearsome bass ability and reputation, Corpsegrinder having established himself as THE Cannibal Corpse vocalist and long standing members Paul and Rob (Paul being an original member and Rob playing with the band for a few years in the 90's), the line-up seems perfect for a sharpened, precise and brutal effort. And that's exactly what 'Kill' achieves.
Cannibal Corpse have been heavily criticized, even by some of their fan base, that there is no where near enough variety in their career, their song writing, approach and general output have been far too similar to deem the band was even trying to evolve or achieve new sounds.
'Kill' was a step forward for the band but is still deeply rooted in their previous sound and approach. Basically they turned everything up a notch.
The thrashing opener "The Time to Kill is Now", opens up with a throaty, piercing scream from Corpsegrinder, backed by a typical frantic 'Corpse riff, then a blistering all out solo and we're back to the metalfest with Corpsegrinder growling at a very fast pace. Then comes 2 riffs in succession with brilliant use of harmonics intertwined with chugging 7 string guitars, slowing the song right down, ending with a climax of Corpsegrinder chanting 'THE TIME TO KILL IS MOTHERF*CKING NOW'. This track is two minutes of pure Armageddon.
The songs vary in tempo from all out thrash and death fests, to mid paced chugs for the hardened headbangers out there, down to doom laden riffage that carves a slow, deep, thick valley of a song for 4 minutes. The album is kept fresh by mixing every possible combination of fast and slow for each instrument. The vocals are sprayed out like a machine gun over gigantic and sludgy riffing, only to switch to blistering blasts of tremelo picked fury with Corpsegrinder taking a back seat, letting the music do the talking, only to punch in at moments to take sharp and deliberate jabs on your aural senses.
The addition of an instrumental closer "Infinite Misery" adds a new dimension, although heavy, it builds layer upon layer, progressing and slowly letting you out of the madness that was 'Kill'. A stark contrast to the all out assault on the sense approach that the previous songs took.
The first song is a showcase of the new 'Corpse sound; still with their trademark sound but with a 'go a bit further' mentality. The guitars are thick, scratchy and buzzsaw like; gone are the days of slightly pale and thin tone, in is a brutal palette of rough, yet sharp guitars - like a rusty blade it cuts and slices yet leaves a rough, stinging and burning sensation.The riffs have gone up a few notches on the technicality scale; pinpoint accuracy and scalpel sharp riffage is contrasted by searing yet clean leads.
The bass is thick, decisive and punchy; backing the guitars perfectly for a large wall of sound that saturates the speakers nicely. The tone is very clean with no fuzz or distortion, offering a very shimmering and stark contrast to the sandpaper like guitars. The bass is handled very well as a backup instrument and also very well as a soundscape in its own - Alex follows Pat and Rob to the wire, yet flinches out now and again with unexpected little pops or his own signature styles. 'The Discipline of Revenge' for example contains a very exotic and unique bass line in its intro, much like a throwback to the bass solo sensation in the intro to the 'Corpse classic, "Hammer Smashed Face."
The drums are higher in the mix with the snare and kick drums piercing the madness much more than on previous work, the kit seems more driven and purposeful. Still keeping to his plentiful use of blast-beats, Paul keeps the 'Corpse flame alive, yet delivers his work with a new sense of urgency and dedication. His snare hits are more concise and reasoned, not just a time keeper or a sound filler, they ring true and add a new facet to the already deep sound of the album.
Corpsegrinder gives it his all, offering us a lot of variety - throwing in high screams, lower growls, fast paced vocals and slow paced vocals that are an absolute dirge, all adding to the flavour and colour of the album. Not one to be a crooner, his vocals and lyrics are still the equivalent of a steaming puddle of fresh bile, yet they are delivered with a new passion that makes your hair stand up and your blood run cold. A very dedicated new approach that takes on a bit more of a prominent role in the whole mix.
Produced by a certain Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel fame, 'Kill' has a much glossier and crisp production to it. With less blending of instruments and loss of frequencies, everything is layered in harmony to create a dense, lush and organic sound.
The guitars are bright and full of power yet they never crush the rest of the band. Alex's bass is a perfect back up, covering the bass end extremely well and popping out of the mix at moments to add variety and flash to already brilliant parts.
The drums are clearer and feel more 'alive' than they do on older Cannibal albums; no longer masked with a flat and dull tone, they crash through, pounding and slashing through the speakers, filling every available space of the human hearing range.
And finally, the thickest neck in metal, Corpsegrinder. No major changes tone wise, but he has certainly upped his game with a slightly more primal and forceful feel to his voice. He's not just growling over music, he is GROWLING in CANNIBAL CORPSE. I felt typing it like that sums up his attitude, he's not just a vocalist ... He is THE VOCALIST.
Basically, its a more tight, condensed and razor sharp effort than their previous offerings.
1. The Time to Kill Is Now
2. Make Them Suffer
3. Murder Worship
4. Necrosadistic Warning
5. Five Nails Through the Neck
6. Purification by Fire
7. Death Walking Terror
8. Barbaric Bludgeonings
9. The Discipline of Revenge
10. Brain Removal Device
12. Submerged in Boiling Flesh
13. Infinite Misery
Conclusions and opinions:
'Kill' is a brilliant slab of death metal from a band that hasn't really proven to disappoint in their career. Definately worth picking up if you haven't already, it's worth hearing and worth spending money on also ahead of a few of their efforts. Although the band has evolved and improved, I am 100% confident that not a single fan can or will be alienated by anything on this album. It's now 14 years old and it still sounds like one of the best modern death metal releases you'll ever hear.
Yes, they may have stuck to a certain formula over their career, but it works, and a lot of people like it and you may not BUT, if you are an ex-fan, a death metaller with a grudge against 'Corpse or merely interested yet put off by this talk of unoriginality and generic sound please, do yourself a favour and give this a shot. It really is that good and one of the more catchy 'Corpse album with a laundry list of songs that can easily get stuck in your head.
This album has stood the test of time and I feel like that it will continue to do so for many more years to come. This is straight up death metal with no gimmicks, twists or surprises. Just pure brutality in its finest form.
Their tenth studio offering show that like a wine, this band gets better with age; their sound has progressed for the better, improving in every department and bringing good, well written death metal to the table in a music industry where it seems to be all about being the fastest, loudest or whatnot. Now, in 2020, they are set to release their fifteenth studio album and I'm expecting to be another savage album because that's just what they do. But for me personally, 'Kill' will always be the benchmark and golden standard for death metal.