First of all, I need to talk about the album artwork. Cannibal Corpse is notorious for their early album artwork, particularly their first three records which the artwork was banned in many countries. Even now they’re still prohibited from playing some of their early songs in certain places.
The artwork on this record is quite a scary sight, reportedly inspired by a nightmare a member of the band had: a knife-wielding maniac in a blood frenzy looking down on the holder, blood everywhere and the title teasing the premise that if you go out this way, it won’t be quick, you will see the blood, you will see Red Before [it all goes] Black!
Cannibal Corpse is one of the bestselling death metal bands in the world because their music follows the traditional death metal sound, they don’t really deviate from this and the fans know what to expect from every release. This album is no different, so let’s get started on some of the tracks…
Starting off with the titular ‘Red Before Black’, it’s a real headbanger with trademark brutality but melody thrown in the mix. Lead singer George “Corpse Grinder” Fisher’s vocals are heavy and meaningful.
Following on is ‘Code of the Slashers’, which is my favourite song on the album. It starts off slow and grinding with the opening verse reminiscent of Sepultura during the Cavalera days, heavy and paced then turns up the tempo and brings it crashing back down again for the final verse.
Other notable tracks are ‘Shedding Human Skin’, a death metal anthem with a chorus perfect for chanting at a gig as well as the hilariously titled ‘Heads Shovelled Off’ showing the same structure.
‘Destroyed Without a Trace’ surprised me with its clear bass slap intro and chainsaw-like solo midway through. The song has a melody but slays.
The last track ‘Hideous Ichor’ is a very suitable end to the record. This starts with building up to a destructive blast beat and fast pace, slowing down midway to a grinding guitar rhythm then ending in a frenzy conjuring visions of the maniac on the artwork going to work on you, blood everywhere before the light fails and it all goes black.
Produced by Eric Rutan, who has produced some of the band’s earlier records, this is a mosher’s record. Total pit carnage with riffs aplenty, blast beats and soaring solos. For a band on their 14th studio album, Cannibal Corpse shows no signs of throwing in the blood-soaked clothes just yet.