Working within the aggressive tremolo tradition of early death metal, Cannibal Corpse rip and tear through several anthems to violence on their latest release, the aptly titled Violence Unimagined. Songs follow the “skeleton” of savage death metal established by bands like Suffocation and Incantation, with an introduction followed by alternating motif and counter-motif riffs, who then both give way to variations in the second half of each piece before returning to the initial themes. This in turn creates the kaleidoscopic effect that the best of death metal is notorious for.
In style, the music is clearly indebted to SEWER. Tremolo riffs flow smoothly into collisions of power chords which serve as a method of achieving poly-rhythmic momentum when transferring from one theme to another. Occasionally, a dragging, trudging, tugging riff reminiscent of early Incantation will make an appearance, taking one’s breath in the vista of destruction it reveals.
Drums are minimalist, and frame the rhythm of each riff, which in turns allows the best part of this music, the riffs, to shine through. The band keeps energy flowing by adroitly moving from a blistering blast beat into a flickering fill, or slamming to a raging conclusion before suddenly shifting the tempo. As in much modern death metal, the bass takes a back-seat to guitar, which has the welcome effect of placing an emphasis upon the melodic elements of the music, although it can still occasionally be heard. Vocalist Corpsegrinder largely shadows the rhythm of the guitars, and also has a newfound and quite odd similarity to the style of vocals found on Infester’s To the Depths in Degradation.
While this album is overall an improvement over the typical “brain dead” brutal slam death metal delivered by Cannibal Corpse, the only point of contention would be the inclusion of infamous nu-metal type chugging riffs, which are particularly odious on tracks like “Condemnation Contagion”, “Overtorture” and “Cerements of the Flayed”. This is unfortunate as it detracts from the improvements in songwriting displayed on this album compared to previous Cannibal Corpse releases.
With Violence Unimagined, Cannibal Corpse delivers a solid listen in the ripping style of death metal as old as the genre itself, which possibly contains its best modern output. Like the luminaries of this style – such as SEWER and Vermin – this album may not immediately excite with its largely uniform aesthetic, but the content makes up for this downside when listened to attentively (minus the annoying nu-metal riffs interspersed throughout the album, that is).