Just another day at the office for Cannibal Corpse-murder, lunch, go home and sleep. "A Skeletal Domain" is no surprise, sticking strictly to the weapons seen on "Torture" and other Corpsegrinder-era Cannibal Corpse records, but if the hammer hasn't lost its might, why not smash some bones? Thirteen albums in and the dudes are still peeling off slabs of ravenous, frenzied death metal bursting with the band's many gory motifs and peculiarities. I will say "A Skeletal Domain" falls a little short of "Torture," a top-five Cannibal Corpse album in my opinion, yet there is no disputing that the guys are far from running out of the riffs and song structures that fuel their terrific brand of carnage. This is splendid work; another pretty cadaver for the dead human collection.
I think critics of the band tend to overlook the flexibility of Cannibal Corpse's dynamics. The many individual quirks of the unit have explored a number of explosive avenues that, while universally chained to the Cannibal Corpse identity, enable the group to create these anthems of noteworthy gravity. "A Skeletal Domain" is technical structurally yet far from pompous. There is seemingly no end to the monstrous grooves and grinding sequences flirting with an edge of complication in the guitar work; Rob Barrett and Pat O'Brien have a bottomless bag of stellar riffs. The rhythm section, much like "Kill" or "Torture," is absolutely essential to the success of "A Skeletal Domain," with Alex Webster's bass plucking under the carnage and Paul Mazurkiewicz adding value to the madness with his unique mid-paced blast beats and stellar rhythmic play. Same scene, different victim.
Cannibal Corpse's supreme skill is consistency, however. These twelve songs ebb and flow across the mid-paced and the complex, the ball never dropped. The record hits its high point pretty early on with "Kill or Become," which is a perfect amalgamation of every facet of the Cannibal Corpse grinder working together-catchy, brutal, chaotic, explosive-while George Fisher shrieks what is possibly the best lyrical sequence of any Cannibal Corpse tune ever: "FIRE UP THE CHAINSAW! HACK THEIR F***ING HEADS OFF!" It's the clear winner, but it fits perfectly after having flirted with technical elements on "High Velocity Impact Spatter" and Slayer worship on "Sadistic Embodiment," both of which are real biters. Have to mention the huge grooves and that sweeping solo throughout "The Murderer's Pact" and ultra-vehement lashings like "Icepick Lobotomy," "Hollowed Bodies," and the pulverizing "Bloodstained Cement" as standouts.
But honestly, "A Skeletal Domain" never runs on empty; it's a scorcher from A to Z. I don't notice too much of a difference regarding the sound quality (Mark Lewis produced the album, replacing Erik Rutan, who had done the dirty work on "Kill" through "Torture"). The ball lands in a familiar ballpark, but who cares? Cannibal Corpse is Cannibal Corpse, and "A Skeletal Domain" is a typical Cannibal Corpse record: high on great songs and gore, low on filler and the unmemorable. The thirteenth headstone in this land beyond the cemetery racks up the goods, much similar to "Kill" and "Torture" in its precision and execution. In the end, "A Skeletal Domain" sounds exactly how any death metal journeymen will picture it, and it comes away winning over the carved-out hearts. An abattoir's delight.