Living Bisection: A Dual Review of Cannibal Corpse‘s Violence Unimagined

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A Spooky Mansion

Look, it’s pretty solid. Of course it is. Alex and the boys aren’t going to suddenly bonk their heads and forget their whole bag of tricks. But Cannibal Corpse is best enjoyed without scrutiny, and in trying to uncover something noteworthy to talk about, I ruined the record for myself (thanks for doing the main review, Bork!). First impressions were better than expected, but after some compare/contrast with the last few LPs, it turned out to be a mirage. I can’t figure out anything this record does differently from all the others, and at this point I’m probably too in my head to appreciate it if I did. This is the epitome of art review as wine-tasting: if there is a difference in the samples, it’s so subtle that I couldn’t detect it myself, and have to take it on faith that there are experts who can.

Cannibal is nothing if not dependable. People like “dependable” for a reason. I wish I were happier with it.

Lord of Bork

I’m fully satisfied with the new record, to put it simply. There’s a lane that Cannibal Corpse operates within, and to their credit the results during the Corpsegrinder era have been successful beyond belief. The problem from a critical standpoint is finding something new to say about it. You can call the album vibrant, like Pitchfork did, or you can fall back on the old standbys when talking about death metal that doesn’t inspire much analysis—it slams, it’s a slab of vicious riffs, etc. etc.

Reviewing a new Cannibal Corpse record felt impossible, which is why Spooky’s meta-review idea immediately clicked with me as the best option. Their records in the modern era are like a well-cooked burger and fries; wonderful when the mood hits, but not inspiring. But just as you can’t eat gourmet constantly, not every album has to (or should, I’d argue) reinvent the medium or the band’s own career. So while I’m not going to name Violence Unimagined my top album of the year, it’s both a great album and a worthy addition to the band’s career.

Violence Unimagined is out now on Bandcamp and through Metal Blade Records.

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