Cannibal Corpse
A Skeletal Domain


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
September 5th, 2014 | 701 replies


Release Date: 09/16/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cannibal Corpse are nothing if not reliable. The elder statesmen of death metal rarely (if ever) make a misstep when it comes to their music.

Cannibal Corpse have been working towards A Skeletal Domain ever since they added George Fisher on vocals back in 1995. His addition allowed them to move towards a more rhythmic and dynamic direction that Chris Barnes’ deep grunts just wouldn’t have fit. Including Pat O’Brien (ex-Nevermore) on lead guitar in 1997 only solidified that direction and allowed them to also start including random bouts of technicality. As they progressed over the past twenty years the band seemed to be slowly, yet deliberately, moving towards blending their death metal roots with something more technical and dynamic; a progression that appeared to culminate with Torture. Torture brought together the best of everything the band had ever done. It had the rhythmic vocal delivery, brutal blast-beat driven riffing, atonal solos and an increased emphasis on technicality and dynamics. However, it turns out that Cannibal Corpse’s musical progression is still an ongoing process because A Skeletal Domain takes the perfected formula of Torture and drives it down a slightly different path.

Opening track ‘High Velocity Impact Spatter’ is the first hint that maybe things have changed a bit. ‘High Velocity Impact Spatter’ assaults the listener with quick tempo changes, energetic guitar acrobatics (by Cannibal Corpse standards), death/thrash riffing and George Fisher’s guttural, rhythmic vocal delivery. Within a few minutes of the opener, it becomes clear that the technicality has never been more up front than it is going to be on this album. It’s also during this first song that the new, cleaner, production is displayed. The previous three albums had been produced by Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal, but the band made a change to Mark Lewis for this release. Thanks to Mark, A Skeletal Domain sports a much cleaner, more powerful, modern production that allows all the instruments space to breathe and, notably, allows the bass to be 100% audible. The technicality and production aren’t the only changes to grace A Skeletal Domain, though.

Maybe this is just a self-fulfilling prophecy where reading that Pat O’Brien (ex-Nevermore) wrote a majority of the songs has caused me to hear thrashy riffs and solos in just about every song. Maybe I’m wrong and those elements aren’t really there; but I don’t think so. I’ll let you decide whether the two-minute mark of ‘Ice Pick Lobotomy’ doesn’t suddenly sound like it could be a modern Testament riff (same with the opening to ‘Bloodstained Cement’). I’ll let you form your own opinion about whether or not at least half these solos sound like the type of technically competent shredding The Politics of Ecstasy displayed in spades. Maybe, just maybe, the closing moments of ‘The Murderer’s Pact’ don’t borrow a bit of that super rhythmic heaviness that a certain Swedish band is famous for – but I’m pretty sure it does. That certainly doesn’t mean Cannibal Corpse is suddenly plagiarizing other bands, just that I can hear the faintest bit of other genres blending into their sound. In case it is unclear… this is a good thing. A Skeletal Domain is still the modern Cannibal Corpse album that anyone would expect, but it has opened up to just the tiniest amount of genre diversity.

Another positive aspect of this album is that it finally has that one standout track that the last two albums were missing. Much like ‘Make Them Suffer’ managed to be super catchy without sacrificing the brutality or resorting to gimmicks, ‘Kill or Become’ has that excellent riff/chorus combination that will get the phrase ‘Fire up the Chainsaw’ repeating in your head whether you want it there or not. Later in the album, ‘Asphyxiate to Resuscitate’ comes close to being another super catchy death metal track with its (almost) groove-influenced riff that comes in on the chorus. On the flipside of that catchiness is the relatively dark atmosphere that runs through a lot of these songs. There are some fairly dark leads and melodies scattered around A Skeletal Domain that haven’t really been a prominent feature of previous releases. A lot of that darkness can (in my mind) be attributed to the thrash influence that seems to run through the album.

Cannibal Corpse are nothing if not reliable. The elder statesmen of death metal rarely (if ever) make a misstep when it comes to their music. They know what their fans like, they know what they want to play and they don’t waste any effort trying to deviate from it. What they are willing to do, however, is tinker with that formula in order to challenge themselves and see what boundaries they can push without abandoning the death metal. A Skeletal Domain is definitely a death metal album, but it also pushes some boundaries. Cannibal Corpse have pushed the technicality of their songs without forgetting the brutality or speed that fans have come to expect. They have also added a thrash element that periodically rears its head before being murdered by another blast beat and atonal guitar solo. Together all of these elements have created a Cannibal Corpse album that is darker and more chaotic than normal, but that is somehow probably their most accessible. I’ve said it before about Evisceration Plague, but with A Skeletal Domain there is even more of a reason for people to give Cannibal Corpse a listen – you may find yourself enjoying the chaos.



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user ratings (364)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
sonictheplumber
September 5th 2014


8478 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

solid record

Angelboros
September 5th 2014


1344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I've never really heard a Cannibal Corpse album from start to finish. But the thing is: your great review makes me wanna hear A Skeletal Domain.

BMDrummer
September 5th 2014


13974 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

might check this, cc is alright

insanedrexl1
September 5th 2014


1189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gonna check this

DikkoZinner
September 5th 2014


5144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Outstanding review. Looking forward to this.

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So, after three months, Willie comes back and writes two reviews in two days. Sweet. Definitely gonna check this.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2014


16474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, still can't find this anywhere but now I want to hear it even more

Digging: Toby Driver - Live at Roulette, March 2017

Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2014


17266 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I've never really heard a Cannibal Corpse album from start to finish. But the thing is: your great review makes me wanna hear A Skeletal Domain.
If you can handle death metal vocals, it's worth the listen.



So, after three months, Willie comes back and writes two reviews in two days. Sweet. Definitely gonna check this.
There's a lot of good stuff coming out between now and the end of 2014, so you might not have heard the last from me ;)

Digging: Samael - Hegemony

zaruyache
September 5th 2014


17694 Comments


oh yay another cc album. A 4/5 is nothing to sneeze at though, so I suppose I'm obligated to check it out whenever it streams. :3

demon of surveillance
September 5th 2014


917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is released and skeletons become memes in the same year, isn't life amazing?

Digging: Enslaved - E

InFlamesWeThrash666
September 5th 2014


6825 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Expecting this to be solid as always

Digging: Morbid Angel - Formulas Fatal to the Flesh

pedro70512
September 5th 2014


4166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well shit, I just interviewed Rob and was looking forward to getting my review in before a staff one sat on it. oh well. yeah it's pretty solid. "Kill or Become," "Funeral Cremation," and "Hollowed Bodies" are my favorites.

Tunaboy45
September 5th 2014


15513 Comments


Great review, probably the most consistent band in death metal.

MO
September 5th 2014


21928 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sweeet

Wizard
September 5th 2014


20111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't wait to hear this.



Really, really enjoy reading your understanding of this band Willie. Some people would just slag this off as just another CC album but you seem to make the "reliable" sound vital and interesting.

pedro70512
September 5th 2014


4166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed hard with Wizard. nice job including the context of the album compared to their discog. I'm waffling between a 3.5 and a 4 for it.

ScuroFantasma
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2014


10766 Comments


really need to check this out actually, damn

Digging: Rammstein - Rosenrot

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2014


21851 Comments


Yassss. Cannibal Corpse gets SO MUCH unnecessary hate, but they always easily been one of the most consistently great OSDM bands. Looking forward to this.

Digging: Grinning Death's Head - Blood War

KILL
September 5th 2014


80846 Comments


sweet

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
September 5th 2014


19975 Comments


anyone who doesnt at least respect this band just needs to watch the centuries of torment documentary. its a really awesome look into this bands history and all they did in and for the genre.



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