Cannibal Corpse really can’t win in 2012. Look in your Oxford Book of sayings and phrases and there, next to the entry for ‘hiding to nothing’ is a picture of Corpsegrinder and company. Doing a bit of background reading for this review (yes, I do actually do that occasionally, especially if the pub I’m in has free WiFi), the general consensus around the band seems to be ‘they’ll never beat the first two or three albums’, and, this being the case in the general public’s opinion, it leaves you wondering why they bother…
I’m bloody happy they did, because Cannibal Corpse, despite what your gumby mates may say to the contrary, sound just as vital in 2012 as they ever have. Torture is a splendid album in every respect, delivering a stiff does of classically-styled old school furore which won’t fail to please anyone with an ear for the extreme. Super-accomplished musically, with the application of enough skewed melody to keep even casual listeners interested (no mean feat in this theatre of operations), Torture ranks easily among the best of this band’s twelve album cannon. Of course it's no Tomb of the Mutilated, but then again when was the last time Iron Maiden replicated the full glory of Powerslave in the studio?
Torture is still the sound of a band unremittingly at the top of its game, bringing the noise over and over again on the classic likes of opener Demented Aggression or the frankly frightening Rabid (my own personal favourite – I honestly haven’t heard a death metal song as bloody brilliant as this in aeons); Every man here puts in an MVP performance if that’s possible, although Paul Mazurkiewicz’ forays around the kit deserve particularly lavish praise. It’s the bedrock of his playing allied to some tasty basswork by Alex Webster from which everything flows on Torture, whilst the twin axes of Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett provide enough kill power to put other more lauded guitar partnerships to shame (I’m looking at you, Kerry and Jeff); this really is brutality incarnate. And then of course there’s George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher who manfully shreds his diaphragm for our listening pleasure on each and every nugget of aural filth here.
So, the final wash-up: Is Torture a pointless exercise in doomed nostalgia by a band that will never be able to regain its halcyon youth, or is it an absolutely storming old school death metal assault of peerless power and glory? I’d have to go for the latter, because if you do like it old school, I can’t recommend this album highly enough.