Written by Carcassbomb
Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined
Death/Grind from New York, USA
Releases April 16, 2021
Via Metal Blade
TWISTED. CRIMINAL. UNDERGROUND.
I am a weird kind of Cannibal Corpse fan, in that most fans will know more about the band as a whole than I do, but I’ve also spent half my life listening to Cannibal Corpse, starting at 15. However, I primarily listen to Bloodthirst and have for a long time. It’s exactly what I want from the band, perfectly summed up in one album and so it hits the spot every time, why move on? Violence Unimagined is one good reason to move on and marks the beginning of an exciting decade for the band.
Violence Unimagined is the first modern Cannibal Corpse album to truly pull my ear on the first listen and urge me on for many replays. It touches on that same kinda cheesy and catchy, but also brutal and punishing death metal that Bloodthirst provided for me. It doesn’t try too hard to portray “hardness”, rather maturing towards expressing creativity through these horrific short stories. It sounds distinct and energized when compared to other modern releases from the band. I can’t quite put my finger on it, whether there’s been major production changes or something like that, but this one really popped out musically and lyrically in a way that suggests the OG CC is very much still in operation.
This feels like a more playful Cannibal Corpse, coming a little closer to Cannabis Corpse in terms of self-awareness and ultimately harmless B-grade horror movie aesthetic. Not a so-bad-its-funny kind but more of a brilliant movie confined by budget alone and thus being surreally twisted and charming at the same time. I believe Violence Unimagined achieves this while also utilizing a higher production budget. At least this is what I hear a lot of the time – when I’m in a good mood. It’s still dark and brutal enough to feed seething energy into your angry bones. I’ve listened to the album multiple times under both mindsets, and it goes off regardless.
Unimagined Violence has benefitted greatly from having a new band member with Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel) taking over lead guitar for ex-member Pat O’Brien. I’m not saying that one is necessarily better than the other but that having a brand-new songwriting member for the first time since 1997 did wonders to rejuvenate everyone. In my recent (not yet uploaded) interview with Alex Webster who plays bass in CC, he talked about how Erik had produced the last handful of albums. So not only is Erik an accomplished death metal musician in his own right, but his entry to the band was seamless as he had already been working on their sound on the production end.
Both the death and the grind aspect of the band are presented well across this album, often alternating between longer death metal tracks where the buzzing occasionally slows to a hectic groove like in “Inhumane Harvest” and shorter faster grind tracks like “Overtorture” which will absolutely smash your shit for two minutes before ending so abruptly that it’s disorientating. This is a good balance of pace that retains the flame for the entirety of the record. The guitar tones still have a lot of that American OSDM thrashiness to them, and although they have every right as a veteran band to jump into the currently popular OSDM flood, they’ve decided to lean a lot more towards a modern death metal execution instead. Lyrically, George Fischer has found some really solid vocal placements that maximize the impact and I found them to be very memorable. Such as the lyric at the top of this review which is from the currently unreleased track (and my favorite track) “Necrogenic Resurrection”. They didn’t blow the best tracks on singles, so you’ll be in for a treat.
Unimaginable Violence is clearly a good album, what other fans may think in comparison to other works, will inevitably differ. I would bet that this is one of the biggest album releases this year and will be in most metalhead’s rotation for a long time. It doesn’t feel redundant or tired at any point and shows good signs for the continued future of this veteran band – something I very rarely get to say on this blog. The high score wasn’t without a lot of consideration. There’s plenty of albums I appreciate a lot but end up moving on pretty quickly due to the fast nature of music writing, with so many requests and pressure to maintain high output, but this is one where out of nowhere I’ll think about a lyric or moment and crave throwing it back on.
There are so few bands whose discography stays on point directionally over a few decades. Some of their stuff never makes it to my rotation but every album has its fan base. You can always very much point out “This is Cannibal Corpse” rather than simply “This is some death metal”. For a portion of the fanbase, they may not have connected with an album since 2007’s Kill or maybe even more extreme and only listens to the Barnes era, well I think they’ll be turned around by this new album. It sounds big, not just for the band but also in terms of the current death metal scene. Hopefully, they will also be one of the first big tours in the next year or two when that becomes viable, they are certainly itching to take this album around the world – so make sure you wear those masks and bully your local anti-masker.