Whether you love or hate Cannibal Corpse, their penchant for churning out accessible, fun and consistent DM can't be denied. Yes when they suck they really do suck (Gallery of Suicide), but even if technically never more complicated than most Kinder egg toys there's always a familiarity to CC albums that appeals. I get those that hate that familiarity. If you prefer to become lost in a Portalesque vortex when enjoying your extreme metal then the obvious churn of CC won't be for you. However, for every complex and archaic DM record in my collection I like to have a fair amount of surety too (someone will be along in a minute to replace "surety" with "safety" no doubt) and "Red Before Black" is as familiar to me after a few listens as most of the band's previous outpyt.
"Red Before Black" reinvents no wheels, either in terms of DM in general or the CC specific brand. It is naive to say it has no variety as this simply isn't true, the pace of "Remaimed" for example goes from a slight itch to a raging STD style of a rash. Opening track "Only One Will Die" comes for you like a deranged serial killer, devoid of any bizarre macabre master plan to use your body in some horrific piece of death art, just driven instead by the need to rip your head off and shit down your neck.
"Firestorm Vengeance" starts like a thrash track, chopping away at the bars like a lumberjack on LSD defacing a tree. The mastery of "Scavenger Consuming Death" is undeniable as it chugs away sitting imperiously glaring at you like some cocksure domestic pet who just shat in your sock drawer! Sonically, the album seems a little more developed than usual without ever dissolving into the territory of "guitar wankery". My only instrumentation grumble is the slightly soft edge to the drum sound which taps along instead pummelling in unison with the rest of the activity on display here.
Whilst still being relevant (and it has achieved this without becoming "core" orientated either) and it staying in my head a lot better than the last two Suffocation records (for example) it sets nothing alight. As solid a DM record as this is my face isn't torn off at any point, my ears aren't battered and my neck doesn't get sore due to some over-exuberant headbanging session. Most tracks do dip away unfortunately.
Let's take nothing away from the effort though. To not be producing shit metal at this stage in your career is an achievement in itself, I just start to question if motions are starting to just be gone through?