Sound — 8
Cannibal Corpse have been rocking the boat since the '80s, and since that time have revolutionized death metal and paved the way for hundreds of bands in their wake. At one point the band was deemed so offensive that there were different political movements in the United States to have the band banned from performing or to bully their labels into dropping them. In some countries the band WAS banned from performing, and some of the albums have been banned from sale. In the meantime, Cannibal Corpse just kept on touring and releasing albums. "A Skeletal Domain" is the band's 13th studio album, and was preceded by the release of the lead single, "Sadistic Embodiment," which was released in July. In September, the second single, "The Murderer's Pact," was released. The album contains 12 tracks with an approximate runtime of 43 minutes.
The album opens up with "High Velocity Impact Splatter," which builds up to a pretty intense riff and then a blast beat in traditional Cannibal Corpse style. "Sadistic Embodiment" is the first track that was released from the album, a "lead single," if you will, which really reminds me of how much Dethklok was initially modeled after Cannibal Corpse. "Kill or Become" has probably my favorite triplet based riff I've heard this year in metal, and does a great job of creating tension in the music that goes along with the lyrical theme. The title track, "A Skeletal Domain," really comes across as a typical Cannibal Corpse track with a maniacally aggressive guitar and gives the double bass pedal a real workout. "Headlong Into Carnage" sounds like you're being pummeled by the music and has one of my favorite screams from the past several Cannibal Corpse albums at just past the minute and a half mark. "Headlong Into Carnage" has a solo that is like a fast burst of grabbing some notes and then a dramatic pinch harmonic. "The Murderer's Pact," which is essentially the second single released from the album, really shows a darker musical side than the band's previous few releases.
"Funeral Cremation" opens up with some nighttime sounds with wind whistling through the trees, distant thunder, and the sound of crickets chirping in multitudes until the instruments fade in. "Icepick Lobotomy" actually has some "groove" in the middle of the track, which isn't something that I normally attribute to Cannibal Corpse. "Vector of Cruelty" has a fairly memorable riff in the intro and does a lot of interesting things throughout the track. "Bloodstained Cement" is a relentless blast of aggression from start to finish. "Asphyxiate to Resuscitate" utilizes a twisty guitar riff, some heavy-handed drumming and low growling to create a solid track. The album closes out with "Hollowed Bodies," which is a groove-heavy track, especially in the world of Cannibal Corpse, and shows a slightly different face to the band.
Lyrics — 7
Corpsegrinder, aka George Fisher, has been providing vocals for the band since 1995 and helping to separate the band from the pack of other extreme metal bands coming up at around the same time. Considering that Corpsegrinder has been providing these hoarse and screamed death growls for almost 20 years for the band, his voice has held up impressively well. In addition to Corpsegrinder's hoarse screams, Cannibal Corpse was also separated from their peers by the blatant lyrical imagery that they've continued in their music for the entirety of their careers.
In previous interviews the band has stated their lyrics are like the plots to horror movies, and that has carried itself on in "A Skeletal Domain." As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the "lead single," "Sadistic Embodiment:" "A sharpened sense of supreme evil/ triggered in the mind/ a gruesome transformation of the body and the soul/ a dreaded life of worthlessness/ now has a new meaning/ wreak havoc like a vile wretch/ possessed until the end/ anger, released/ torture, returning/ sadistic embodiment, sadistic embodiment/ spreading the corruption/ flowing is the destruction/ to obliterate all that is good in this world." That's pretty much standard fare for Cannibal Corpse, and while not "game changing," the lyrics are solid.
Overall Impression — 7
You can't make everyone happy - to those who aren't fans of death metal, Cannibal Corpse can seem very extreme. To those people who ARE fans of death metal, they may find Cannibal Corpse to be too mainstream. Death metal is a niche genre and suffers from problems of other bands in niche genres - it is hard for a band to gain attention without being deemed too mainstream. The album overall is pretty solid, but what stands out to me more are some individual moments, more than entire songs. I appreciated the riffs in "Kill or Become," "Headlong Into Carnage" has one of my favorite screams, and "Icepick Lobotomy" and "Hollowed Bodies" have some of my favorite "groove" from the album. If I picked a favorite song, it would probably be one of those I just listed. Overall, I feel like this is a very respectable release by Cannibal Corpse.