In the macro sense, Cannibal Corpse hasn’t progressed in the slightest over the course of its 24-year existence. Sure, members have shuffled in and out, and production values have improved, but the quintet’s core mission is the same as it was back in ’88: match violence- and zombie-fixated (and often violent-zombie-fixated) lyrics with blastbeat-driven bludgeon; repeat.
Zoom in, though, and the band’s evolutionary arc becomes clear. With 2006’s Kill—the first of a trilogy of Corpse full-lengths, including the new Torture, overseen by death-metal superproducer Erik Rutan—the Tampa-via-Buffalo quintet kicked off a late-career renaissance, which found it flirting with the gonzo technicality of younger bar-raisers such as Necrophagist, while retaining the surprisingly earwormy brutality it perfected on early classics such as 1994’s The Bleeding. As memorable a collection as Cannibal Corpse has produced since hulking frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher replaced original growler Chris Barnes in ’95, Torture is an expertly paced set that makes room for both frenetic prog-death (“Intestinal Crank”) and sinister down-tempo doom (“Scourge of Iron”).
The band hits town this week as the main attraction at the annual extreme-metal traveling circus Summer Slaughter. Compelling support comes from Raleigh, North Carolina’s geekily ambitious Between the Buried and Me (metalcore’s answer to Radiohead), awesomely anthemic gross-out grinders Exhumed and more. But conserve your energy for the headliner: At a 2010 NYC gig, Fisher challenged fans to match his legendary windmill headbang. “Try and keep up with me,” he smirked. “You will fail.”—Hank Shteamer
Follow Hank Shteamer on Twitter: @DarkForcesSwing