CD Review: Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain

CD Review: Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain
Metal Blade Records
All Access Rating: A-

Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain 2014
Cannibal Corpse has crossed just about every line imaginable in its 26 gore-splattered years of existence.

So, when the band's new producer, Mark Lewis, says of the death-metal destroyers' new Metal Blade Records release, A Skeletal Domain, that "there are moments on this record that have never happened in musical history," he may not simply be engaging in wild hyperbole.

Lewis, who's worked with such heavy-hitters as DevilDriver and the Black Dahlia Murder, replaces Erik Rutan, who honed the sound of the band's last three records. Having updated Cannibal Corpse's extreme sonic assault, Lewis has somehow intensified their already enormous, swirling maelstrom of violent, blood-and-guts imagery, frenzied blast beats, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher's guttural roar, Alex Webster's impossibly fast bass currents, psychotic tempo shifts and flaying riffs seemingly run through a wood chipper.

Executed with surgical attention to detail and a tortured mix of calculated instrumental discipline and crazed, completely unpredictable guitar attacks from Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett, A Skeletal Domain is a uniquely brutal rampage of thrash energy. Unleashing a barrage of diabolical progressions that go places that would be off limits to less twisted imaginations, delirious blitzkriegs like "High Velocity Impact Splatter," "Icepick Lobotomy," "Sadistic Embodiment" and "Kill or Become" – "Corpsegrinder" raging, "Fire up the chainsaw" with homicidal intent – become scary aural loony bins, with complex stuff going on in the dark recesses that's truly shocking and unexpected.

There are interludes of heavy, slower crawls, such as those in the title track, that allow for brief respites from the all-out war Cannibal Corpse fights in the closer "Hollowed Bodies," where the chugging guitars grind bones into sawdust, just as they do in "Vector of Cruelty." Amid the malevolent chaos there is structure, and it's strong and flexible enough to withstand this wicked, destructive sonic turbulence.

Inevitably, most Cannibal Corpse conversation revolves around the ridiculously graphic nature of the band's iconic album covers and lyrics, the depictions of mutilation and dismemberment so outrageous they're almost cartoonish. The ferocious ambition and sheer audacity of A Skeletal Domain, suggestive of bands like Meshuggah, might just steer the discussion more toward Cannibal Corpse's technical skill and lethal precision.
– Peter Lindblad

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