CANNIBAL CORPSE drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz's description of one aspect of 12th studio album "Torture" as "the frenzied attack of 'Butchered at Birth' (1991) or 'Tomb Of The Mutilated' (1992)", is quite accurate. There is a direct, often unhinged lethality about it that does indeed remind of the controlled calamity of those early albums. As for "Torture" being described as "infusing the band's advanced musicianship with the raw savagery that haunted their earlier releases", that's also quite accurate. I'm not sure that automatically makes "Torture" a "definitive CANNIBAL CORPSE record," but it comes awfully damn close. It may however take a few spins for the listener to reach that conclusion.
What hits you first is the homicidal directness — or alternately, the giddy obnoxious of the killing — involved. Opener "Demented Aggression" is fast and furious in no uncertain terms, even taking one aback and immediately recalling that old school wanton disregard for nervous system stability. Interestingly enough, it is the very next track, "Sarcophagic Frenzy", that confirms the achievement of balance between the quick-kills of the band's first years and the pronounced musical development of later years. Stop-one-a-dime tempo shifts — for years a trademark of the group — collide with a memorably ominous lick, resulting in an album highlight. The slower, guts 'n muck churn that was perfected on later Corpsegrinder-era albums is present on "Scourge of Iron" and to bit quicker extent on "Caged…Contorted" (one of a few with some superb Alex Webster bass lunacy), but more often than not "Torture" stabs like Jack The Ripper and moves on to the next victim without remorse nor hesitation. The approach is demonstrated on frantic cuts like the super intense "Encased in Concrete" and "Torn Through", the latter also serving as a good description of the style of attack fancied by Buffalo's finest on "Torture".
But back to that thing about giving "Torture" numerous spins before passing final judgment, it is during those later plays where the album shows itself to be more than blind aggression, although it's not like CANNIBAL CORPSE has ever forsaken fundamentals for fury. The point is that with a little more time invested more highlights beyond "Demented Aggression" and "Sarcophagic Frenzy" are revealed. Those include "As Deep As The Knife Will Go" and a song in "Rabid" that features a peculiar (almost jaunty) pace and one of those classic one-word CANNIBAL CORPSE "choruses" that has been so effective over the years when belted out over the extreme aggression of the music. What is perhaps most extraordinary about "Torture" is how CANNIBAL CORPSE can sound so feral and so brutish within a framework of tight, technically precise playing. Then again, that's not exactly surprising considering the musicians involved in this band. No matter the methods employed or the musical vibes involved, the one aspect of "Torture" that is most obvious is the height of the pile of bodies left in its bloody wake. Similar acts may boast higher body counts on their albums, but few achieve their murderous results with as much skill, creativity, and (wait for it) fun as CANNIBAL CORPSE.