Review Summary: Prepare to be butchered.
Forget about melody. Sometimes death metal is at its very best when it’s raw and aggressive and it doesn’t get much more brutal than Cannibal Corpse’s earlier albums. Inspired by gruesome horror stories and films, the band have put out a hefty twelve full length albums since 1990, never once straying from their morbid themes or their violent sound. Even before listening to the band, the listener will know they’re in for quite the ride with song names like ‘Vomit the Soul’, not to mention the band’s vivid and bloody artwork. Cannibal Corpse are obviously unapologetic about their nature and fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Of all of their blood soaked offerings however, their second effort Butchered at Birth
finds the band at one of their most raw and unforgiving states.
The band doesn’t waste any time on this release and the album starts abruptly with a rough and dirty intro made up of several angry sounding guitars. Honestly, the opening guitars are the perfect start for the album as they work together to create an uneasy intro. About a minute into the song there are some gnarly growls that help set the tone before the riffs and the relentless drums kick into full force. Once the song gets going, there’s no escaping its fury. The drums are impressive and even technical from the moment they pick up until the song ends as abruptly as it begins.
It’s hard to understand the vocals, but they are some top notch death metal snarls that add even more intensity to the band’s sound. At the time of this album the vocalist was Chris Barnes and although there’s much debate as to who’s the better screamer, Barnes proves to be every bit as competent as the band’s current vocalist. Perhaps his best vocal performance on the record is found on the title track where he sounds like an absolute beast and he even manages to keep up with the fast paced drums. His voice is nice and deep and somewhat raspy just the way it should be in death metal. Clocking at just under three minutes, it’s even more unstoppable than the other tracks as it never takes its foot off the gas.
The rest of the album seems to follow the same formula as the title track. In a way the whole album feels like one giant song and flows rather nicely, but some may feel like there isn’t enough variety or creativity. Perhaps more emphasis on guitar solos and a larger variety in song pacing could have made the album even better. That’s not to say that Butchered at Birth
is without impressive solos, but for the most part the album is nothing but heavy riffs, furious drumming, and death metal growls.
Those looking for nothing but a fun and aggressive death metal album can’t go wrong with an album like Cannibal Corpse's second full length. It’s packed to the brim with stylish riffs and violent drums, and some of the most creepy death growls I’ve heard in the genre. It’s also a nice step up from their debut and one of their most important albums. Few albums can retain such a raw and original feel and still sound as great as they did over 20 years ago. However, Cannibal Corpse have succeeded in doing this in their gore themed, aggressive second album. Butchered at Birth
is raw death metal at its finest.