Death Metal is brutality in its impurest form. The ferocious guitar riffs, earth breaking bass, deafening drum beats, and guttural growls define one of metal’s most extreme and unforgiving genres, and this abrasive sonic assault perfectly describes the style of weed obsessed death metal band CANNABIS CORPSE.
Despite the fact that the name CANNABIS CORPSE is a parody of gore loving death metal band CANNIBAL CORPSE (just needed to explain for all NONE of you who weren’t already aware), bassist/vocalist Phil Hall, drummer Josh Hall, and guitarist Ray Suhy take their doobie influenced and (admittedly) humorous metal quite seriously, and this can be heard on their most recent record ‘Left Hand Pass’ which is an absolute monster of an album with smashing guitar riffs, unforgiving guttural screams, and a slight hint of melody that hooks the listener from start to finish.
Simply put: it’s crushing.
Opening track The 420th Crusade (Ha! Great title!) kicks the album off to a rollicking good start. The track begins with slow instrumentals that ease the listener into a trance akin to one feels with a contact high (…not that I’d know what that feels like), and even when Phil’s vocals, Josh’s drums, and Ray’s blistering fretwork picks up in pace, The 420th Crusade carries a melodic grace that perfectly leads into the pummeling death metal featured on the rest of the album.
As heard on tracks like Grass Oblit, Final Exhalation, and Chronic Breed, the heavy riffage on ‘Left Hand Pass’ packs a wallop, yet it’s on the second track In Dank Purity where the LP really hits its stride: the guitar work is incredibly heavy yet intricate, the bass is pulse pounding yet has groove, and the drumming is chaotic yet focused. Incredibly, all of these disparate instrumentals coalesce into exemplary death metal that is unpredictable yet structured which is a great quality that every good death metal band possesses.
CANNABIS CORPSE’s excellent musicianship is only topped by the band’s sharp sense of humor that can be heard in Phil’s vocals. While, yes, ‘Left Hand Pass’ is a punishing death metal record, the album’s pot filled references give the LP a charming comedic edge that never lets up. I can’t even begin to count the numerous times I snorted with laughter while listening to this album. In particular, the track “Papryus Containing the Spell to Protect Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Bong Water” is an absolute riot, and Phil’s vocals, where he earnestly screams: “We must get high!” as if his life depended on it, will elicit more than just a few chuckles.
By the end, ‘Left Hand Pass’ is a good addition to CANNABIS CORPSE’s discography. While the the album doesn’t reinvent the wheel, ‘Left Hand Pass’ is a blazingly (pun intended) fine death metal record worth lighting a joint to.
…Not that I’d know what that feels like.