Cannibal Corpse - TORTURE

Off the top of my head, I can't remember whether or not I've reviewed a Cannibal Corpse album. I've written thousands of words for this website, so you'll have to exculpate my dodgy memory. Assuming that this is my first formal critique of a CC opus, I should make one thing clear. This is my favorite extreme metal band. They are my second favorite band across all genres, ranking just below Alice in Chains. It kills me to say it, but 2009's Evisceration Plague left a bitter taste in my mouth. In hindsight, I concede that my expectations were nearly impossible to meet. I can be a fastidious fucker when I want to be. Still, I gave EP multiple chances to infect my body tissue with the gruff alacrity of a communicable pathogen, but it failed to rape my receptors.

My main problem with the follow-up to 2006's Kill was the fact that it didn't mark a progression from the band's most recent output. Honestly, it struck me as a diluted, mechanical version of Kill. A rehash, if you will. The production was too similar (Erik Rutan is hit-and-miss as a sound engineer), the tone was too similar (I didn't pick up any traces of evolution), even the artwork was too similar...obviously, I got nervous when it was announced that Rutan would be returning to twiddle the knobs during the recording sessions for Torture. My fears were unfounded. Rob, Pat, Paul, Alex and George sound rejuvenated on the new disc. These songs destroy. In my opinion, Torture is an extension of the few stand-outs on its predecessor (namely "Priests of Sodom" and "To Decompose").

I can't put my finger on it, but the cuts on display are motherfucking focused. Every idea is fleshed out to its natural adjudication. There is a palpable emphasis on riffs. Take "Encased in Concrete," for instance. Better yet, check out the malignant, baby-stomping march of "Scourge of Iron." If you don't headbang as soon as the groove sets in, you're a pussy. Fuck you. I have arthritis in my neck, but it doesn't matter when I hear the stentorian double bass that anchors "As Deep as the Knife Will Go." Ditto for the unexpected breakdowns that bolster the dynamics of the aforementioned "Concrete." Unique vocal patterns garnish a pair of choice shredders in "Sarcophagic Frenzy" and "Caged...Contorted." As you can tell, each track is a winner, and the all-inclusive delegation of songwriting duties ensures a sweet variety of moods and tempos.

If you haven't peeked at my rating yet, you're probably counting on seeing five shrieking Abbath's plopped underneath this review. However, I have a couple of nagging issues with Torture. Corpsegrinder's growls are stellar as usual (I would sell my soul to perennial douchebag Bret Michaels to have George's voice), but where are his patented high screams that last ten seconds? If you'll notice, he has been taking advantage of his godly upper register less and less as albums pile up. It could be age, it could be wear and tear (very likely), it could be intentional...I don't know. I do know that I miss the kind of wail that opens "Devoured by Vermin" and closes "They Deserve to Die."

Also, I wouldn't mind if Torture put melody a little higher on the priority list. It needs the catchy hooks of Bloodthirst to be complete. Nonetheless, this album serves as a resounding mission statement (the statement being, "We are badass!"). Cliches be damned, Cannibal Corpse is at the top of their game. Early contender for best long player of 2012. Believe it.

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