It’s impressive that after so many years and now a string of successful albums, US death metal group Cannabis Corpse continues to be hilarious. “Left Hand Pass” is their most recent effort of authentic old-school death metal odes to drugs, and picks up where the last two records left off. The band’s musical success is largely because of their adherence to a strict formula of worshipping bands in both name and sound. Cannibal Corpse is still the primarily point of reference musically; despite name drops to groups like Bolt Thrower, Entombed, and Monstrosity, it is the original Cannibal Corpse that is the most comparable band.
Cannabis Corpse has an uncanny ability to interweave huge grooves (with a definite Paul Mazurkiewicz influence in the drumming) with more traditional, breakneck death metal riffs. The band also tends to incorporate small amounts of dissonance in their riffing, to create a slightly more technical feel to the music. This is obviously a far cry from even the older technical death metal bands like Atheist, but does separate Cannabis Corpse from the crowd slightly.
Relative to some of the band’s past work, it feels like the bass playing has taken somewhat of a backseat. It does make sense, as the previous album, “From Wisdom to Baked”, marked Landphil’s first time doing vocals for the band. Truthfully, loud heavy bass isn’t a requirement for this type of music, and it only feels expected because Cannibal Corpse uses it so effectively. Nevertheless, it is still there, and doesn’t detract from any of the songs.
From a production standpoint, “Left Hand Pass” is what all death metal bands should strive for. It’s clean enough to the point that it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a shed with tin can drums, but also muddy enough to reflect the downtuned, aggressive bite of the guitars. It helps that the music doesn’t consist of constant blast beats, as this gives the band much more room to play around with this sound. In fact, there are some moments where a thrashier drumming approach creates a significantly different feel, hearkening back to the truly early death metal groups (think 1987-1989 or so). “Chronic Breed” is the unquestionable standout for its thrash influence, but this sound pops up elsewhere on the record.
There aren’t many necessary points of improvement for Cannabis Corpse. Few bands have such an exceptional understanding of why death metal used to be amazing. Though “Left Hand Pass” doesn’t have the songwriting chops of previous works like “Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise”, it is nonetheless an impressive offering of death metal. The real question is how many more brilliant song titles can the band come up with?
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"The 420th Crusade"
"In Battle There Is No Pot"
4.4/5 or 88%.