DEATH METAL: Cannibal Corpse needs no introduction. The legendary death metal veterans have defined and dominated the genre for well over three decades, carving a path of graphic violence and gore for countless acts to follow, and the unprecedented killing spree shows no sign of slowing with the release of the band’s 16th studio offering, Chaos Horrific. Comprised of 10 tracks, this demented opus was written shortly after 2021’s Violence Unimagined, and once again features the lineup of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher on vocals, Rob Barrett and Erik Rutan on guitars, and founding members Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz on bass and drums, respectively. Chaos Horrific was tracked at Erik Rutan’s own Mana Studios in Florida, and is the sixth Rutan produced Cannibal Corpse album, with A Skeletal Domain being the only exception since 2006’s Kill. The album also serves as Rutan’s second release as a full-time member, since officially joining in 2020 and replacing tenured guitarist Pat O’Brien.
In terms of overall sound and character, Chaos Horrific immediately appears to pick up where its aforementioned predecessor left off, while simultaneously feeling like a reinvigorated beast of its own. It opens with malice, going straight for the jugular with the blistering album opener “Overlords of Violence.” Featuring a low tuned, intricate bass intro from Webster, the track blasts right into an assault of pummeling drums, savage vocals, and frenzied, palm muted riffing, a pulverizing yet familiar combination that remains consistent throughout the album’s 38 minute runtime.
The album’s singles, “Summoned for Sacrifice” and “Blood Blind,” briefly slow things down to offer up some of that chuggy, lurching riffage that modern Cannibal Corpse has become synonymous with. These two tracks are perfect examples of the album as a whole, showcasing insane technicality on all fronts, melodically vicious solos, demented subject matter, and absolutely ruthless vocal deliveries from Fisher.
Much like Violence Unimagined, Red Before Black, A Skeletal Domain, and numerous other albums before Chaos Horrific, the title track is one of the most substantial songs on the album, pushing a catchy, somewhat thrashy, tempo throughout and a chorus that’s sure to be a crowd favorite when played live. Chaos Horrific wraps things up on a devilishly high note with “Drain You Empty,” one of the album’s more unpredictable and monstrous tracks. It features an almost doom metal-esque intro that explodes into a cacophony of ferocity before slowing down again and closing with an eerily layered bellowing of the song’s title that’ll stick with you long after listening.
Keeping things within the camp of all things dark, twisted, and horrendous, the fine lyrical content of Chaos Horrific paints pictures of “mass mutilations to reset the human race,” fighting off hordes of zombies, and a graphic enactment of ritualistic sacrifice, to name a few, and it wouldn’t be a Cannibal Corpse album without some gore-ridden cover artwork by the band’s longtime collaborator Vince Locke, who envisioned the lyrics of the title track to depict a gruesome struggle between the living and the undead. It’s the proverbial cherry on top of this macabre sundae.
With Chaos Horrific, Cannibal Corpse has further solidified their place in the blood-drenched annals of death metal history. Delivering more of what fans have come to expect, but with a renewed sense of expertise that sees each member pushing their skills to the next level, it’s yet another eviscerating offering from the world’s most infamous (and censored) death metallers, boasting technical brilliance and deadly brutality all wrapped into one. ~ Nikolas Sullivan