Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black

Considering the strength of Cannibal Corpse’s worldwide fanbase, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the band wouldn’t need to appeal to a wider, more populous batch of new listeners. Yet with the last couple of albums, amid several criticisms hinting that the band are basically releasing the same record under successive titles, Cannibal Corpse’s songwriting seems to have retained a thrashier approach, one which revels in more hook-laden heaviness than brutal assaults on the ears. It’s not been a massive change however, because Cannibal Corpse are still the same band that released Vile over two decades ago. It’s just that somehow, the sense of revitalization had been upped between say, the so-so Evisceration Plague and its two follow-ups, Torture and A Skeletal Domain.


Indeed, this seems to affect latest effort Red Before Black too, and of course, it appeals to the exact same listeners that loved Cannibal Corpse’s previous couple of albums, rendering everyone else obsolete. Enough about who Red Before Black will or will not appeal to. The musicianship on the album is, as you would expect, a lot stronger in the first half than the second. “Only One Will Die” and the title track both revel in thrashy, maniacal delivery, whereas “Code of the Slashers” slows down in favour of groove-inflected battery, oozing menace from every pore. “Shedding My Human Skin” begins sounding introspective, but eventually turns ugly with a pseudo-grindcore instrumentation added on to the band’s usual selection of brutal death metal beats.


However, the second half of Red Before Black simply seems to give up at times. “Heads Shoveled Off”, despite its exuberant velocity in places, is the start of this problem but doesn’t exactly define the main flaw. Instead it still wails on relentlessly with little consideration for anyone who hears it. “Corpus Delicti” is the start of this flaw. It essentially renders the band weary of their own strengths and simply crawls on until its predictable end. It’s not exactly the musicianship that’s the problem here, but the impression one gets of the band not doing anything with what they have. Some excellent solo work can be found towards the end of “Destroyed Without a Trace”, and few could argue that “In the Midst of Ruin” brings a sludgier influence into its intro, but the feeling that something is lacking in the band’s usually consistent repertoire is all too great.


So Red Before Black is the album which simply follows up A Skeletal Domain, with literally no added ingredients. Does it bring maniacal delivery and psychotic pace? Of course. But for those who have tired of the band’s go-to formula which has been running for a good few releases now, Red Before Black is rendered unimportant. For everyone else, it’s decent brutal death metal, but better made for a by-product of the band’s insane live performance than a mere studio effort.



Released: 3/11/17


  1. Only One Will Die
  2. Red Before Black
  3. Code of the Slashers
  4. Shedding My Human Skin
  5. Remaimed
  6. Firestorm Vengeance
  7. Heads Shoveled Off
  8. Corpus Delicti
  9. Scavenger Consuming Death
  10. In the Midst of Ruin
  11. Destroyer Without a Trace
  12. Hideous Ichor




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