CANNIBAL CORPSE — Violence Unimagined (review)

CANNIBAL CORPSE — Violence Unimagined album cover Album · 2021 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Violence Unimagined" is the 15th full-length studio album by US, Florida death metal act Cannibal Corpse. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in April 2021. It´s the successor to "Red Before Black" from 2017 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as guitarist Pat O'Brien has been replaced by Erik Rutan (Ripping Corpse, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal). The former had what can probably best be described as a psychotic episode i December 2018, which led to his arrest, and after some uncertainty regarding O'Brien´s situation and his legal issues, Rutan started filling in for him on tours in January 2019 and finally replaced O'Brien in February 2021.

Stylistically the material on "Violence Unimagined" is the sound of Cannibal Corpse as we know them. Brutal gore/horror themed old school death metal played with great technical skill. Rutan is a suitable replacement for O'Brien, so the guitar riffs are as challenging and sharp as always, and the guitar solos few and far between (as usual). Lead vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher has a pretty one-dimensional growling vocal style, which becomes monotone after a few tracks. The monotony of the growling vocals are thankfully interrupted by a couple of higher pitched screams here and there, but the vocals are generally not that interesting. A little more emotion and a few catchy vocal phrases would have helped, but I´m not hearing that. The only track I remember after listening to the album many times is album opener "Murderous Rampage" (and bits and pieces from other tracks).

Cannibal Corpse are a technically well playing band, and every track is loaded with fast-played riffs, Paul Mazurkiewicz distinct sounding drumming, and Alex Webster impressive bass lines. This is what we´ve come to expect from the band, and they fully deliver on that promise. The songwriting is solid, but like the growling vocals, "Violence Unimagined" quickly becomes a little monotone and one-dimensional. More spins help, but Cannibal Corpse often appear more interested in delivering brutality at any cost than delivering catchy and memorable songs (I guess that can be said about a great deal of their albums). It´s interesting because the parts are pretty strong. There are some killer riffs on the album (I love how thrashy some of the riffs actually are), and the rhythm style is unique, and although I find Fisher a monotone listen, he arguably gets the job done, so it´s the sum of the parts, which could have worked better.

The whole thing is packed in one of those dry and sterile Rutan productions, and that doesn´t help the material shine either. Riff details are often blurred in the production, and although it initially appears to be a professional and well sounding production, something is off. So upon conclusion this review came out pretty negative, but it´s only because I expect high quality from an artist like Cannibal Corpse, and all the prerequisites are here for success, but to my ears the songwriting isn´t memorable enough to warrant more than a 3.5 star (70%) rating.
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