Long live the Corpse and their wicked domain of Death Metal.
In my humble opinion, the most important legacy the city of Buffalo, New York (also known as “The Queen City”) will ever leave to humanity is the unrivalled twisted music by American Death Metal heavyweights Cannibal Corpse. Not only that, I personally consider George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, Alex Webster & Co. the best, most cohesive and most amusing Death Metal band of all time, and now once again they prove us all why they’re so awesome with the excellent A Skeletal Domain, the thirteenth studio album in their path of ruthless devastation.
One might ask how they keep being relevant in heavy music after all those years, maintaining their musicality almost intact but without sounding repetitive at the same time. Well, although every Cannibal Corpse album has the band’s hallmarks such as their gruesome lyrics and intrinsic brutal instrumental and vocals, those guys somehow manage to reinvent themselves and offer something distinct in each of their releases. For instance, A Skeletal Domain provides us a darker and more freakish sounding than their previous albums, as mentioned by bassist Alex Webster in some recent interviews. Just take a look at the Stygian album art and you’ll have an idea of how eerie this album is.
In order to kick off the album the best way possible, the band invites us to join them in this dark domain of music with the aggressive High Velocity Impact Spatter, which right after a quick Horror movie-ish intro becomes a Death Metal feast full of excellent riffs, solos and creativity led by bassist Alex Webster and guitarists Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett. Moreover, the initial roar by Mr. Corpsegrinder and the desperate way he screams the chorus prove once again why he’s and will always be the true voice of Cannibal Corpse. Following that sonic massacre we have Sadistic Embodiment, a song that couldn’t be more Cannibal Corpse than that, with Alex Webster kicking ass one more time and Paul Mazurkiewicz always killing on drums; and Kill or Become, a song about a zombie outbreak with a beautiful message in the lyrics (“Fire up the chainsaw / Hack all their heads off / Fire up the chainsaw / Hack their fucking heads off”), with the instrumental parts reminding me of another Cannibal Corpse track, “As Deep as the Knife Will Go”, intensified by a sick guitar solo by Rob Barrett. Do I need to mention it is more than perfect to be part of any truly disgusting zombie movie soundtrack?
And their rampant Death Metal extravaganza goes on with the amazing title-track, A Skeletal Domain, another lesson in bestiality with highlights to its insane double bass and superb riffs. I simply love the chorus and how Corpsegrinder “recites” the lyrics, especially when he says people are turning into some kind of creatures that are “not a zombie not a human”. Can you imagine how grotesque those creatures are? Anyway, Headlong into Carnage is a straightforward song made for breaking your neck due to the intensity which you’ll bang your head, where the instrumental parts sound like old school Thrash Metal in many moments, followed by The Murderer’s Pact, which is more melodic than all previous tracks and where Corpsegrinder’s voice and the guitar riffs end up making a very interesting duo.
Funeral Cremation, with its Black Metal elements and very macabre lyrics, and the “smooth” Ice-Pick Lobotomy, with its complex musicality (especially the bass lines and all the guitar shredding), keep the overall quality of the album really high, while Vector of Cruelty, despite not being as powerful as the other tracks, offers us pure traditional Death Metal with some interesting rhythmic breaks. And what can I say about the fast and furious Bloodstained Cement? The violence in its lyrics is outstanding (“Smash his skull onto the pavement / Make the bastard pay / Don’t stop until it cracks / And spills out his brain”), and I cannot wait for the absurd circle pits this song will generate if played live.
Lastly, there’s still time for more extreme music with Asphyxiate to Resuscitate, with another awesome performance by Mr. Corpsegrinder and some excellent drumming blended really well with some sick guitar lines and solos, and the fast and heavy neck-breaking tune Hollowed Bodies, with its evil guttural vocals and Paul Mazurkiewicz stealing the show again, to finish exterminating whoever is still alive. However, regardless of all that savagery, the guys from Cannibal Corpse are far from being heartless individuals, as A Skeletal Domain is dedicated to the memory of Michael Trengert, who was the managing director of Silverdust Records and former promoter at Nuclear Blast and manager of Metal Blade Records Europe. He passed away on September 23, 2013, leaving many friends all over the world.
In addition, as I’ve already mentioned a billion times before, there would be no Cannibal corpse without bassist Alex Webster. As a matter of fact, that guy is not just a regular Death Metal bassist like those ones you can barely listen to and who usually don’t make any difference to their bands’ musicality. The architect and mastermind behind the realm of the Corpse is a fuckin’ wild beast responsible for the darkest, sickest, most innovative, most fiendish and most intricate bass lines one can ever imagine in the world of extreme music, elevating the quality of their records so much even some people who loathe traditional Death Metal have to acknowledge how good Cannibal Corpse are. Pay attention to all the bass lines in each and every song from A Skeletal Domain, they’re beyond impressive!
In summary, A Skeletal Domain might not be as magnificent as Vile (1996), Kill (2006) or Torture (2012), which I consider the best Cannibal Corpse albums of all time, but it is indeed an amazing record that will surely keep the Corpse alive after almost 30 years of wildness, expanding their perverse domain of Death Metal and, of course, it’s also an excellent choice to invest your hard-earned money (go for the “A Skeletal Domain Deluxe Bundle”, it’s just plain awesome) if you’re a real fan of traditional Death Metal.
Best moments of the album: High Velocity Impact Spatter, A Skeletal Domain and Bloodstained Cement.
Worst moments of the album: The Murderer’s Pact and Vector of Cruelty.
Released in 2014 Metal Blade Records
1. High Velocity Impact Spatter 4:06
2. Sadistic Embodiment 3:17
3. Kill or Become 3:50
4. A Skeletal Domain 3:38
5. Headlong into Carnage 3:01
6. The Murderer’s Pact 5:05
7. Funeral Cremation 3:41
8. Ice-Pick Lobotomy 3:16
9. Vector of Cruelty 3:25
10. Bloodstained Cement 3:41
11. Asphyxiate to Resuscitate 3:47
12. Hollowed Bodies 3:05
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Pat O’Brien – guitar
Rob Barrett – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums