Posted on February 3, 2010 -
One of the marks of a good band is songwriting. If you look at Cannibal Corpse’s song writing from Eaten Back to Life to the present day, you notice significant advancement in musical composition. When Cannibal Corpse started with Eaten Back To Life, they sounded more like heavy death thrash…but this is a jaw dropping promotion to hellish, brutal, and technical death metal compared to the primitive and gruesome debut album. Instead of setting themselves into a comfort zone, they push harder and harder with each album, which shows in The Wretched Spawn when compared to their previous release – Gore Obsessed. Not only does this package come with the feral and fierce Wretched Spawn album, it also comes with a bonus DVD which contains footage of the making of the album.
I’ll say right now that the drumming doesn’t really compliment the acrimonious guitars and bass on the equal level. Paul is a great drummer for being self taught, but let’s face it; the guy has been doing practically the same thing for the last ten years. Mid-paced blast beats and other medial drumming techniques are all he really seems to go for in a world of hasty music. I don’t mind a drummer taking an intermediate stance in speed, but when it becomes the only style the drummer uses, it’s pretty much an unspoken connotation that maybe they need to try something new. This isn’t bad drumming by any standards; it’s just very parallel to previous albums.
Gathering from previous performances, this is George Fisher’s best vocal delivery since he’s been with the band. Instead of trailing off in mid song and going in seemingly random directions, Fisher’s singing goes more with the flow of the music and keeps that tight formation all the way through. This is why Barnes can’t hold a torch to Fisher. Other than the fact that Barnes’ bloated ego helped him gain momentum to being ejected from the band, he had no vocal rhythm in comparison to Corpsegrinder. Barnes, more or less, would wait for the band to conjure some devastating tunes, and then just dump his vocals onto them without any precision or planning.
Let’s face it – Barnes was sloppy and Fisher is not. Undeniable is Fisher’s ability to sing more coherently as well. Take Tomb of the Mutilated for example; that was a great album, but most of the time it was a vein effort to even attempt to understand what Barnes was singing. While vocal comprehension isn’t always priority to most people who listen to death metal, I consider it a pleasure to be able to decipher what it is I’m listening to while it remains brutal and heavy. Little has changed in Fisher’s voice since Gallery of Suicide; it’s still got that mid-tone growl that lies in comparison with death metal singers like Glen Benton and Erik Rutan.
Jack Owen and Pat O’Brien rend flesh into nothing but pulp by creating a razor storm of sharp and succinct structure with their fleet and expeditious playing styles. Jack Owen wrote four songs on this album, some that I enjoy immensely, others that I think are just good. I don’t know what it is about Owen’s writing style, but his songs don’t stick with me the way O’Brien’s or Webster’s do. Jack Owen tends to overuse fast chug riffs, has seemingly synthetic aggression, as well as lack of memorable tunes. Owen just seems to be short of passion in a lot of the songs he writes, as if he couldn’t get into it.
I find Pat O’Brien to be much more of an interesting song writer than Jack Owen on this album, due to the fact that he usually goes for faster and more difficult riffs than Owen. I am not a believer of the whole “complexity equates to splendor” type of mind set, but Pat writes catchy stuff and manages to keep pushing the boundaries on difficulty. If you watch the DVD that came with this album, you’ll be able to see Pat playing guitar for one of his songs, “Frantic Disembowelment,” which takes away any doubt that Cannibal Corpse go for simplicity as Pat runs his fingers around the fret board with amazing speed. When Pat plays, he goes for unrelenting aggression and brutality; I notice that Pat tends to favor tremolo harmonization as well. This also gives me the idea that he actually loves what he’s doing, unlike Jack (it’s why he left the band after all).
The entire production is crystal clear, much like Gore Obsessed. This is also the first all digital album that Cannibal Corpse have done. The problem with old Cannibal Corpse albums was that the production usually rendered Alex’s bass sounding almost like a joke. Remember the nice little bass solo on Hammer Smashed Face before the singing started? It sounds like a piece of rubber!
Thankfully, the serene production allows you to hear Alex’s bass as it pummels in the background like a machine gun. I’d love to hear more standout bass activity from Alex, maybe a bass solo or two, but I digress. Production can’t get much better than this. Almost every song on here is built around speed, except for the ever groovy “Festering in the Crypt,” which speaks in more of a “sit down, relax, and enjoy” type of manner. Some thrash elements show themselves in songs like “Severed Head Stoning,” and attack all bones in the listener’s neck by forcing them to head bang until paralysis is achieved.
I can’t say I was really looking forward to this album. I purchased it the day it came out, but I was expecting it to be somewhat of a Gore Obsessed clone, but no…This is even better! I tip my hat to the death metal veterans for spawning this fine creation.