Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague 

The problem with Cannibal Corpse is twofold: First, there are many bands today aping the blood-smeared gore-grind metal that the Buffalo, N.Y., band pioneered 20 years ago, causing the Corpse to sound less inspired with each passing release. Second, the band members' musicianship is so accomplished at this point that the raw energy that made earlier albums like Tomb of the Mutilated such unruly fun has been somewhat obscured by slicker (i.e., digital) recording techniques.

Of course, back in the late '80s, no one expected the Corpse to carve out a lengthy career à la Motörhead. But if you're an extreme metalhead with any sense of history, Evisceration Plague likely sounds better than it is.

Gone are such in-your-face titles as "I Cum Blood" and "Meat Hook Sodomy," replaced with more abstract, darkly poetic phrases like "Carrion Sculpted Entity" and "Priests of Sodom." Lyrics still dwell on the unthinkable, of course, but not to the same absurd degree—which isn't to say the Corpse has grown soft. The band hits harder than ever, and Erik Rutan's (Hate Eternal) production accentuates every evil riff and snare-drum crack. If you're a longtime fan, you'll admire Plague for its devastating sonic wallop and guitarists Pat O'Brien and Rob Barrett's enhanced riffage.

Sure, newer acts like Pig Destroyer may be outpacing the Corpse in terms of sheer butchery, but there's something to be said for old-school gore-grind. That something is this: Sleep with the lights on after experiencing Plague.

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