Cannibal Corpse are the most recognized name in death metal and Chaos Horrific reminds all of us just why that is.

Release date: September 22, 2023 | Metal Blade Records | Buy/Stream | Facebook | Website

Let’s get this out of the way really quickly: Cannibal Corpse are the standard bearers for death metal and have been for decades. Their presence in pop culture through admiration as well as disdain has made them the face of the genre and while there are plenty of other bands who may take more risks with their sound, Cannibal Corpse simply have the luxury of not doing this. Not out of some sort of creative stagnation but they have simply reached the point in their career where being themselves is a gift enough. After so many releases over decades a band like this can find themselves at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to expectations of what they will do and what they won’t do and while there’s no wrong answer here there could be more ideal and less ideal outcomes.

With Chaos Horrific being the second album on which Erik Rutan is a full-fledged member as well as producer, the surge in energy that was felt from their previous album Violence Unimagined can still be felt. While Cannibal Corpse would hardly ever be accused of coasting in any real fashion, there was a sense of urgency and immediacy that could be felt when Rutan joined in full and while it has been a couple of years since then the dividends are still making themselves known. Rutan’s solos and rhythmic riffing helps carry songs such as the utterly catchy “Summoned For Sacrifice” that leads off with a downtempo lilting riff before this tale of macabre maiming finds the next gear about one minute into the song. Aside from being a literal play-by-play of some poor sap being cut into pieces just because thirteen dudes decided that he was the sacrifice, this is an absolute stomper of a song that feels classic but the dynamic pacing of the song and singalong breakdown of ‘Until he breathes no fucking more’ make it a real standout on the record.

Of course, the newest member of the band is not the only star of the show as the long-standing musicians drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, guitarist Rob Barrett, bassist and chief songwriter Alex Webster, and of course the man with the neck and the voice, George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher are all in top form. Webster’s bass punctuates the album right from the jump with the intro to “Overlords of Violence” which seems to be the inspiration for the cover art and hell could be an autobiographical title as well. Corpsegrinder is also in fine form as he continues to be one of the most intense but still legible vocalists in metal with a timbre that is unmistakable as he belts out one horrifying tale after another. This is a powerful band and they put every single atom of energy into these songs with dedication and fervor that can be felt in every note.

If there is an evolution of this band, it’s not in the sonic side of things but within the topics of these songs. Yes, they are still gory tales of violence in the extreme but the conditions and context of the violence has changed drastically since their inception. “Vengeful Invasion” is the story of someone who has suffered and languished in horrible conditions as a victim of human trafficking and their righteous killing of their captors. The same could be said for the aforementioned “Summoned for Sacrifice” where the ritualistic killing is seemingly the result of fate rather than premeditated stalking. It’s refreshing to see a band that can recognize that perhaps some of the fetishization of killing women has had enough time and evolved their stories from problematic fantasy to shed some light on actual issues without sacrificing a single ounce of brutality.

Cannibal Corpse are a smart bunch. From knowing when and where to pivot, where to stay the course, and when to let the chips fall where they may, they know precisely how to write death metal songs and assemble these songs into an album that is thoroughly enjoyable. Anyone expecting this band to do anything other than be Cannibal Corpse will be met with utter disappointment but at this point they shouldn’t be doing anything else. Chaos Horrific is a record that, as usual, is an anthology of hor-riff-ic tales that have found ways to morph into relevant cautionary stories and others that are pure escapist fantasy. There’s blood everywhere.

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