Cannibal Corpse - _The Wretched Spawn_
(Metal Blade, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (9.5 out of 10)
Virtually since their inception, Cannibal Corpse have, almost as a rule, seemed destined to be reviewers' favourite whipping boys. Quite as to the reasons why remains uncertain; perhaps it is their stubborn unwillingness to compromise their now fairly tired lyrical fodder, or to depart even slightly from their ultra-technical style of death metal that has since spawned a voluminous legion of imitators. Whatever the case may be, the fact that they can boast the distinction of being the first extreme band to achieve platinum selling status would suggest that they're at least doing something right, and one could further argue that they have scaled this considerable height as a direct result of their doing the very things that the metal media flays them for with their every release. Predictably once again _The Wretched Spawn_ has drawn its fair share of criticism, with one point in particular standing out in my mind this time round as a pure admission of ignorance: that Cannibal Corpse have simply repeated themselves. It is certainly true that _The Wretched Spawn_ is a Cannibal Corpse album in every sense of the word, and so from the off you will know what to expect -- George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher's blisteringly intense vocals, Alex Webster's inhumanly skilful bass-wizardry, the seething combination of Jack Owen and Pat O'Brien's guitars -- all dancing to the tune of Paul Mazurkiewicz's trademark battery.

What makes Cannibal Corpse worth listening to, nine albums into their career, is that they continue to evolve their sound within the admittedly conservative framework which they have imposed on themselves -- the results of which have proven to be quite excellent. Small touches indicate how they have grown as songwriters over the course of a career that spans more than fifteen years: the doomy intro to "Festering in the Crypt", the dark melodic break halfway through "Frantic Disembowelment". In the meantime, they continue to excel as one of the most technical bands in death metal. Say what you will about their ability to come up with fresh ideas, but there are precious few guitarists that will outdo the quite frankly sick staccato riffage of "Psychotic Precision". Of course, it may just be that what Cannibal Corpse brings to the table just isn't enough for some, a view that boils down to a simple matter of opinion. But as Alex Webster states on the record's accompanying DVD documentary, the band's primary objective has always been to "deliver the death metal"; and in the case of _The Wretched Spawn_, the group definitely deserve infinite kudos for a job exceptionally done.


(article published 23/3/2004)

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