Sound — 7
There are but three things which are certain in this world: death, taxes and Cannibal Corpse making records. They've taken it upon themselves to act as a steadfast point of reference for what death metal is and, as the genre's most famous export, preach to an ever-growing choir, but their days of innovation and notoriety are well behind them. They are now flag-bearers, ambassadors, ceremonial figures who bring death metal to the world on the behalf of those who are unable to, leaving artistic expansion to the bands that open their shows. That may concern them, it may not, but they will keep writing riffs until a meteor hits them.
The album starts strongly. The crazed opening exchanges are exhilaratingly fast and threaten to come undone entirely in a way that hasn't really been seen since the band's early days, before years of touring refined their technique. To do this now with click track recording, faultless performance and especially producer Erik Rutan's excessively high volumes is commendable, but those wild vibes are quickly bottled up and saved for later as the bulk of the album is professional, precise and ruthless. Quite similar, then, to what they've been doing since the new millennium.
A point of interest for dedicated fans will be the contribution of bassist Alex Webster, who offers more than his usual share of technical stimulation for those with the ear to hear it. The esteemed bassist can follow even the most complex of riffs to a T but periodically refreshes the assault with melodic flourishes on "Encased In Concrete", "Caged...Contorted" and "The Strangulation Chair".
Lyrics — 8
Which brings us onto lyrics. George Fisher spews a continuously repulsive stream of blood and gore from album to album, sticking to what is familiar and expressing it with an inhuman bellow. There are some particularly sickening turns of phrase here but quite frankly, the finer details are irrelevant. "Torture" as a whole carries a sense of genuine intimidation, its content more menacing, more empowered than the tales of chaotic splatter from frustrated outcasts which were to be found on earlier albums. Perhaps a sign of greater confidence from those writing them, perhaps an utter coincidence that is best ignored in favour of watching on with morbid curiosity.
Overall Impression — 8
You've got to give it to Cannibal Corpse. Let's not forget that they're working in a narrow paradigm here, and they've made almost eight hours of this stuff in a career lasting close to a quarter of a century. A little complacency could be forgiven, but thankfully the band members are able to renew their enthusiasm for the craft every few years and the release of "Torture" has fallen just around one of those moments of rejuvenation. Haters will hate and lovers will love as indiscriminately as ever, but this is a very good album that should provide some pleasure for anyone who has a bit of time for big, stupid violence.