Review Summary: A more than solid release that sadly lacks any real memorability in the faster cuts
Cannibal Corpse are one of the best known and most revered bands in death metal circles. Ever since their inception, the band's horror-themed lyrics and artwork and intense music have propelled the band to the forefront of the scene. Over the years the band has continued to be an enduring entity despite undergoing countless line-up changes, and has hardly displayed any variation whatsoever, leading to many claims that the band is simply one that goes through the motions. Whilst this is partially true, there have been a few variations to their style: Their first album had a heavy amount of thrash influence whilst their last batch of releases has showcased far more technical proficiency than anything they did before. 2009 marked the release of their eleventh studio album, Evisceration Plague, to which receptions were rather lukewarm when compared with its predecessor.
This release is arguably one of their most varied to date, featuring a vast pool of tempos that the band dips in and out of. It retains the razor-sharp production values of Kill alongside the intricate guitar work from Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett, the mesmerizing bass work of Alex Webster and frantic drumming from Paul Mazurkiewicz. The vocals from George Fisher are forced out with a lot of aggression at a rapid pace. On paper this should sound like the average modern Cannibal Corpse record but in reality this does not at all resemble a whole lot of the band's past material. The songs are far more diverse than what we have come to expect from the band, from the slow tempo of To Decompose to the lightning fast lesson in violence that is Carrion Sculpted Entity. Despite these changes in speed it is still clearly a CC album and therefore follows rather predictable structures to the songs themselves and there are songs that could just be considered another day at the office for the band.
Priests Of Sodom opens up Evisceration Plague and is possibly the most interesting track here. It begins with blast beats and chord-based guitar work but later evolves a little and the rather monotonous verse riffing gives way to a savage bridge with some sickening lyrics delivered by George. Scalding Hail is the obligatory sub-two minutes number from the band that gallops forward at an unbelievably fast pace with some of the quickest growls you are likely to hear. In fact, most of the songs attempt to break away from the repetitive ditch that the band has dug themselves into in recent years. A Cauldron Of Hate appears to be business as usual until a cymbal crash is left to ring out and the band then launches into some of the best riffing on the album; the title track is rather slow paced for the most part and has a disturbing atmosphere, and Evidence In The Furnace serves to be the most catchy and down right fun song on here.
The album hits a real stumbling block when the band returns to the stretch of albums from Vile through to The Wretched Spawn by crafting songs that are merely exercises in speed. Carnivorous Storm is the lone exception to this rule, feeling well structured with a lot happening all at once and the riffs are intense and well written, but Rob Barrett really let the team down with his song Shatter Their Bones. This track as well as Skewered From Ear To Eye and Beheaded And Burning suffer from a strong feeling of deja vu. The riffs do nothing to convince naysayers of the band that they are anything more than the generic band that many consider them to be, relying heavily on bland tremolo picked lines with the occasional power chords that do nothing more than unhinge the songs. These tracks should really have been cut so as to not affect the flow of the album.
The other criticism that could be leveled at Evisceration Plague is one that all of Cannibal Corpse's albums have been guilty of and that is lazy drumming. Whilst the near-constant use of blast beats does add something of a sense of rhythm to the insanity the rest of the band is creating with their frantic riffing and never-ending barrage of madness in the bass department, it swiftly grows tiring. One would think that a band held in as high a regard as this one would strive to ensure each aspect of their sound develops over time but Paul is Paul and it is as simple as that. The drumming is just a mixture of the same blast beat over and over again and some less than creative mid-paced beats that seem to rely on abusing the cymbal and the snare. It is this repetitive nature of this man's playing that steadily leeches away from the overall product and takes a lot away from the release instead of adding to it.
Evisceration Plague is a frantic, aggressive display of how death metal can be done properly and in many ways shows a progression from Kill. However there are a couple of factors to it that do little to add to the band's clout in the death metal scene. When stacked up against Kill this really falls short in terms of the actual flow of the album. Whereas that release was one fast, aggressive dose of hyper-technical death metal, Evisceration Plague is an album that attempts to show off diversity that the band appears to have spent too long tinkering with instead of crafting out one solid slab of music from start to finish. I highly recommend this to fans of the band but this is not really a good place to start if you are uninitiated into the legion of fans they have.