An increased maturity in songwriting skills and musicianship does not always mean greater and more impressive results from a band. Often there is the loss of the raw essences that made the band the mighty agents of sounds that captured legions of hearts at the beginning. This accusation has been thrown towards Cannibal Corpse over recent years by a great many, the albums within the latter of their twenty four years for some lacking the breath that put and kept them at the forefront of death metal. Others will be swift to stand up and disagree but whatever your view go into the new and twelfth album from the band with open expectations for the quintet have just released a mighty benchmark for the genre in 2012. Torture is immense, an easy equal to the likes of Tomb Of The Mutilated, The Bleeding or Butchered At Birth. Many will hold their hands up at that too and shout in disagreement but listen properly and you will see a freshness and intensity within Torture that is pure Cannibal Corpse, the band that defines death metal.
There is nothing vastly different to the sound within Torture, there is no major direction shift or delving into shocking variations, this is Cannibal Corpse doing what they do best but even better and as is almost expected from the band something which very few can rival let alone beat. There is a fuller muscle to the biceps of their sound and more definition than before to create a release that is as brutal and intense as ever but with a more concise, tighter and leaner destructive craft. Here the previously mentioned maturity has meant a greater impressive creation and one to prove the band still lead the way in extreme metal. Those who had declared that the band has dipped recently will be raving at this staggering and essential release and those who argued the case for the later works of the band will just be nodding told you so.
From the opening merciless assault of Demented Aggression the album is unrelenting, a crushing obliteration of the senses as one expects and hopes. The track swarms all over the ear with vein puncturing guitars and riffs from Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett, whilst the bass of Alex Webster growls and swipes with the blackest malice fuelled riffs possible. George Fisher spews treacle thick venom with every growled word, harsher and eviler than any demonic conjuration with the rhythms of Paul Mazurkiewicz leaving a pool of what were once feelings dripping from the ear, stunning stuff that is repeated track by track. This incessant attack and structure though comes with a diversity that had yet to be seen within previous releases from the band, each song easily identifiable and a standalone moment of high quality and ingenuity.
The likes of the prowling vindictive Scourge Of Iron and the manipulative Encased In Concrete demand submission in varied but equally irresistible ways. The first stands over the senses like the blackest beast, the amassed riffs and rhythms a weighty bulk to suffocate whilst a groove grinds its way through each and every nerve of the body with imagination and surety. The latter of the two sends acidic guitars in first before a winding groove twists and squeezes the nervous system tighter and tighter as riffs swarm around like a disturbed nest of poisonous wasps. Both are yet more delicious proof that Cannibal Corpse is one of the most vital bands for death and metal itself.
Torture is a release that defies any criticism; it really is that good and one that even the less frequent genre listeners will drool over. Each song a masterpiece topped by the two best songs, well for today as it is hard to stick with a choice, the album that impressive. The duo that take honours for now are Caged… Contorted and Crucifier Avenged, both songs Cannibal Corpse at their height with raw maliciousness combined with technical precision and imaginative creativity in sound and craft. To be honest though every song is a marker for how great the album is and whichever your entry point, it will sweep you up in its frenzied attack.
We are always looking for new and emerging bands but they will have to be special to come close to the might of Cannibal Corpse, they maybe veterans but they still rule the roost and drive death metal forward as Torture proves.