Cannibal Corpse are a band that needs no introduction. Gaining popularity by being banned in numerous countries and creating some of the most heinous art work in music history have made them the most notable American death metal act of all-time. The lyrical content has been the main contention as to whether their music can be deemed an “art” form. As a fan, it is easy to disconnect the gross themes and lyrics and have fun with the horror themed songs. However, non-metal fans will always fail to connect with the lyrics and find nothing to merit within them. This fact only makes the band more iconic, being an unwanted black sheep with a horde of fans to embrace the chaotic sounds. Being their 13th studio album, A Skeletal Domain shows that Cannibal Corpse are far from getting softer with age.
The sound aesthetic has not changed for death metal, and neither has Cannibal Corpse’s approach. Virtually every song is stuffed with fast drums and guitars, harsh but clean vocals, and a sweeping guitar solo that gives a pause from the harsh nature. This can also make the band’s sound become a bit stale when listening to a full album. Each individual part is done to solid effect, but the song structures begin to wear down a listener by the second half. That is not to say the songs are bad, as there is not one weak entry in the lot. The sinister guitars and drums keep the pace at a maximum level, making for a great textbook example of what death metal is.
There are a handful of tracks worth checking out from the record. “High Velocity Impact Spatter” is fast, angry, and downright nasty. The guitars never slow down for a breather and this track features the best breakdown of the album. “Sadistic Embodiment” is a good lead single, throwing off unlimited amounts of energy while also featuring the best chorus as well. The title track is equally impressive, bringing hellfire from the past pacing and instrumentation that is purely twisted in every way imaginable. The best track of the album is easily “Funeral Cremation” though. There is a bit more finesse with an ambient opening, while double bass drum kicks burst the track wide open. The guitars are at their most crisp form, with an ending and solo that embody the genre to a tee.
Despite not having any bad songs to note, there are some compositional problems on A Skeletal Domain. The 43 minute running time seems longer due the frustrating formula the band never breaks away from. It is nice to have all the components such as fast pacing, heavy breakdowns, harsh vocals, and boisterous drums. However, every track gives off the same feeling. This lack of change in pace is crippling to the success of the last three tracks. It was hard to stay overly interested by the time the last few songs came and went. The lyrics never really became too gross or dark, which is perfectly fine but not totally appalling as fans might expect.
Cannibal Corpse are the standard set for American death metal music. Their formula has all the makings of what the genre needs to be vital for metal fans. However, one has to wonder if making the same similar song structures can continue being as interesting in future releases. This is a great record to listen to, but there is better and darker albums to delve into from the band. If you are into death metal though, do not miss this record.
1. High Velocity Impact Spatter
2. Sadistic Embodiment
3. Kill or Become
4. A Skeletal Domain
5. Headlong Into Carnage
6. The Murderer’s Pact
7. Funeral Cremation
8. Icepick Lobotomy
9. Vector of Cruelty
10. Bloodstained Cement
11. Asphyxiate to Resuscitate
12. Hollowed Bodies