This, friends, is the first death metal album I can recall hearing. At the time, I was mostly listening to whatever was popular on Roadrunner Records until I read about these guys in a (very short-lived) metal magazine called Ultrakill. So I then saved my pocket money and got this as soon as I could. The 16 year old me at the time fucking loved it! It was everything I was looking for in a band at the time. Fast, brutal, likely to piss people off, class! I can remember try to convince a guy at school to give it a go but he refused. Mind, his favourite Testament album was 'The Ritual' which was their attempt at doing a 'Black Album' so what did he know? Actually, I'll rephrase that...what THE FUCK did he know??? Ahhhh...
Cannibal Corpse formed in Buffalo, NY and quickly became notorious - not just for their music but for the song titles themselves. They left absolutely no room for doubt as to what this band were about. Such gems as 'Meathook Sodomy', 'Addicted To Vaginal Skin', 'Necropaedophile' and the charmingly named 'Entrails Ripped From A Virgins Cunt'. Death metal has always been a genre where death is a major topic but this was as extreme as it got back then. Now it seems that any band can name a song 'Shitting piss fucking rape bonanza' or "I Kill Kittens Then Wank Using Their Fur" or somehing and no-one bats an eyelid. It's no longer shocking and the music has to stand up on it's own merits now.
This is the fourth Cannibal Corpse album and came right after the infamous "Tomb Of The Mutilated" which had artwork of two corpses having oral sex. My girlfriend at the time was horrified by that cover - as were the censors - but it's not like it was a real photo, like some covers I could mention. These days, it would probably be a cgi-photoshopped cover which would look good albeit with no soul. "The Bleeding" would be the last CC album to feature Chris Barnes who would leave over disagreements and form Six Feet Under - a band which continued the death metal philosophy found on here but with a hint of groove-metal in there too, as well as songs about politics and weed smoking. Maybe both at the same time, if you're a Canadian mayor.
Opening with "Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead", it lurches in and provides to give you a beating. Chris Barnes' vocals sound particularly demonic as he tells the story of being prepared for embalming but he's not really dead. Surely a nightmare we can all relate to. That's one of the stand-outs on tihs album, the vocals. Typically growl-and-shriek which is common in Death Metal but Chris Barnes is great at it on here! These days, he sounds a little rough due to a combination of age and too much weed. Still good, but there are better vocalists out there. Then after this, we're onto the thrash-influenced "Fucked With A Knife". Two minutes and fourteen seconds of pure fury. As ferocious as it sounds, it's all over you like a serial killer. The next track is, for me at least, the album highlight - "Stripped, Raped And Strangled" (It goes without saying that the majority of song titles weren't printed on the back of this CD and instead were hidden in the inlay notes). The pace constantly switches between fast and slow on this song, which gives the impression of the hunt for a victim and the frenzy of the murder that follows. This song is a work of fucking genius. It builds on atmosphere. In fact, I can remember being impressed by a cover of this done by a local band called Dysfunction (They were from Wallsend, where I live). Afterwards, we're thrown into the breakneck speed of "Pulverized" which does what it says on the tin. "Return To Flesh" lurches in like the first track and although it has a nice riff, it's not as good as the tracks that preceeded it.
"YOU THOUGHT IT WAS OVER, IT'S NOT OVER, I'VE CAME BACK, I BROUGHT MY AX!!!" These are the first words of the song "The Pick-Ax Murderers". Another furious assault, there really isn't any let-up on this. "She Was Asking For It" follows - and after that, I doubt she'll be asking for anything again. Another savage blast, it flays the skin from you before breaking every bone in your body. I know, I'm sounding daft here but I cannot find any other ways to describe this. "The Bleeding" comes next and while not as fast as the others, it's still quite nasty. Not as nasty as "Force Fed Broken Glass" with it's (unintentionally hilarious) vocal sounds mimicking someone eating broken glass. "An Experiment In Homicide" follows and ends the album on a savage note. Just for a change. Although the bonus track is "The Exorcist", a cover of a song by a band called Possessed.
Well, there you go - my introduction to Death Metal! As a 16 year old it was the best thing ever but as a 35 year old adult? It's still pretty good but the shock factor has long gone due to me being older and wiser (albeit not by much) and the fact it all sounds a little dated. There was a time when the legend "Produced by Scott Burns at Morrissound Studios, Florida" meant you were going to get a slab of awesomeness but the production sounds dated now, although it's still good. That was the problem - pretty soon, every death metal band and their mother started going to him and in the end, everyone sounded like everyone else - albeit not as good - and it saturated the death metal scene for a while. But that can happen anywhere, I guess. The music is great, with some awesome guitarwork. One of the guitarists (Jack Owen) ended up joining Deicide and it really gave them a new lease of life, which just goes to show. The vocals that were once terrifying are now just a tad menacing. As has been mentioned, Chris Barnes is still going with Six Feet Under but his voice doesn't sound half as good as it used to. His replacement - George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher is still vocalist and he's definately the better vocalist. You'll have noticed the descriptions of the songs were quite short, that's because there wasn't really much I can say about them other than "they're fast and about dead stuff". The same year this came out, Obituary released 'World Demise' which managed to experiment whilst retaining the death metal qualities that Obituary had become famous for. My point is that experimentation CAN work and that maybe a bit of variety on this album would have sufficed? Nevereless, it's still good.
7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.
Top Track: Stripped, Raped And Strangled.