Review Summary: Jaw Dropping
Following the departure of vocalist Chris Barnes and the arrival of George Fisher, Cannibal Corpse decided to go back to the drawing board. The Bleeding had shown flirtations with a more experimental side to the band, but the new release was to return to the days before, the days of brutal death metal. However, their were many changes to the formula to be added this time around, resulting in the album Vile.
The guitar work on this album is far more technical than before hand. The Bleeding had shown a much more intricate style of guitar work with various trills thrown in throughout the release, but Vile was going to redefine what technicality meant. Songs such as Mummified In Barbed Wire and Orgasm through Torture show exactly how talented the two guitarists were, with some frantic fretwork that is equal parts blistering speed and insanely technical when stacked up against the albums that had come before.
George Corpsegrinder Fisher's debut on vocals is an exceedingly energetic one. Starting with an extremely long scream to kick off fan favorite Devoured By Vermin, this album displays George at his most uncaged. The rapid fire delivery on songs like Devoured By Vermin is fantastically realized, but also of note is how decipherable his vocals are when stacked up against other vocalists in the genre, and in particular when compared to his predecessor. Almost every word is extremely clear, making songs such as Disfigured, which speaks of extreme acts of self mutilation, all the more shocking, and he is the perfect voice for such vile lyrics.
Another change is in the lyrical department. The lyrics on previous releases were so extreme that countries wanted them being banned, and with the departure of Chris Barnes, many feared that this extremely recognisable factor of the bands sound would alter. Not so. Whilst the lyrics have indeed been toned down somewhat, they remain as disturbing as ever. The aforementioned Disfigured is the most obvious example of how grotesque the lyrics remained. Disfigured also manages to be the most varied song on the album, with some of it being considerably slower than the majority of the music on here, bringing back memories of The Bleeding.
Mummified In Barbed Wire is my personal favourite song on here, having some very nice guitar work, demented vocals from George, speedy drumming, and some interesting enough lyrics. This is how death metal should sound-fast, brutal, and straight to the point, something that many bands seem to forget about. Album opener Devoured By Vermin is also a fantastic song, and is nearly a set staple, being one of the band's most popular songs, and a flat out classic of the genre, with its speedy sections and much slower, more deliberate middle section.
The down side to this album is that much of it feels too forced. The musicianship is extremely tight, and the vocals are as energetic as they come in death metal, but when the two are put together and played in one albums length, the cracks start to form. The band was trying so hard to show that they could still cut it following the removal of Chris Barnes from the band that the album almost manages to outstay its welcome, being overly long and some of it not being needed.
Also, this album really does not have close to enough variation. Aside from moments on songs like Devoured By Vermin and Disfigured, this album really only seems to have one pace, and that hurts the flow of the album somewhat. Later albums like The Wretched Spawn showed that it doesn't hurt to slow the pace a little bit to allow the more creative moments to seep through, but unfortunately this album was a statement of a band trying to prove a point.
Overall, however, this remains my joint favorite Corpse album, alongside The Wretched Spawn. It contains more energy in its run time than half of the genre put together, and was a fine debut for George Fisher, and a lesson in how to play a guitar. This is an essential death metal release, and is certainly in the upper echelons of the genre. 4.5/5