Sunday, April 08, 2007

Review: Cannibal Corpse - Vile (Re-Release)

To many, the concept of Cannibal Corpse is completely laughable (the band name, the artwork, the lyrical content, and sometimes even the music of death metal itself). Perhaps to some, not taking Cannibal Corpse to seriously has led to their success, as many tout Cannibal Corpse as being the biggest death metal band in the world.

“Vile” is said to be the first death metal album on the Billboard top 200, debuting at #122 in 1996. It also marked a big change for the band, as it was the first album with vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. “Vile” also marks an evolutionary step for the band growing from their humble simplistic beginnings of mostly power chords up and down the guitar in their earlier days, to incorporating a lot more runs that start to get into more jazz territory. The guitar solos compared to the previous album “The Bleeding” are derived much more from Slayer this time. George “Corpsegringer” Fishers vocals hang around a mid-range to sometimes high death grunt, and his proper diction and pronunciation are certainly much clearer than the previous vocalist Chris Barnes, but sometimes he still slurs his words. From a lyrical standpoint, the band attempts to be creative and some of their attempts work, while other songs come off as simplistic descriptions of slashing.

Production is also an issue. While Cannibal Corpse may have gone with famed death metal producer Scott Burns, his production style was slightly raw rather than powerful. The tuning of the snare drum sounds exactly like the snare drum on every album produced by Scott Burns, and a lot of the instruments have some reverb cranked up. In the early days of death metal, raw styles of production are much more forgivable, especially when it’s a new band looking for a new sound. It can add to the youthful exuberance of an underground band, but in this case, raw death metal production on a 1996 album sounds dated and detracts from the sound.

The song “Devoured By Vermin” has practically become a single being the most chorus driven and hook laden song from “Vile”. Most other songs are a bit forgettable by comparison, although a portion of the song “Bloodlands” is memorable for a bassline that imitates a heartbeat.

On the next album “Gallery Of Suicide”, Cannibal Corpse eschewed all simplistic power chords, and their guitar solos grew beyond cloning Slayer and evolved into a signature style. The vocals became much clearer, and lyrics became more creative. All subsequent albums from “Vile” featured continually better production, more technical playing and catchier songs, although those albums have been extremely similar to the point of stagnation.

The main feature to the re-release of “Vile” isn’t the songs, since the album hasn’t been remastered, instead it comes with a bonus DVD of Cannibal Corpse playing a show in California in 1997. The video quality isn’t top notch, but the band sounds powerful onstage, and they provide lots of headbanging and windmill spinning hair. George doesn’t move much from his spot on stage, but he becomes much more mobile towards the end of the show.

In the end, the real attraction of the “Vile” re-release is the bonus DVD. If you’re the kind of person that wants to own just one Cannibal Corpse album, my suggestion would be the last one, “Kill”. It has the best production and features the catchiest songs.


Cannibal Corpse
Cannibal Corpse At MySpace
Cannibal Corpse At Metal Blade



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