When I was in high school, the boys and I used to waste time in class by substituting words in song and band names, which would more often than not end up in us having laughing fits and being sent to detention. While this was just a bit of fun to pass time in the boredom of school, years later I found a band who’d made a career out of doing just that. But instead parodying classic death metal as an entire genre with one of metal’s most notorious past times, the old Mary Jane.
Admittedly, I’d never listened to Cannabis Corpse before this album, passing them off as a bit of a ‘gimmick’ band for lack of a better term. But oh how wrong I was. From the moment I sat down and threw myself into the throes of ‘The 420th Crusade’, I knew I’d seriously been missing out on some of the finest death metal coming out of America in the 21st century.
Straight up, this album is just so much fun. The throwback sound to the glory days of 90’s death metal is not only a great homage to genre legends like Suffocation, Bolt Thrower and Entombed to name a few, but the riffs and songs on this album are straight up deadly in their own right. I found my head constantly banging from start to finish, swinging to the groove laden riffs of guitarist Ray Suhy and the uncompromising beats of drummer Josh ‘Hallhammer’ Hall. The vocal patterns laid down by Phil ‘Landphil’ Hall (of Municipal Waste fame) are not only vicious and unrelenting, but also extremely catchy to boot. All of these elements combined into the fierce 10 track package that is the band’s 5th studio album, ‘Left Hand Pass’, make for one of the finest death metal releases in 2017.
Naturally, I went on to check out the band’s back catalogue, and upon returning to this album, I was extremely pleased by the direction the band took with the production. While their previous albums have leaned towards a more old school sound, ‘Left Hand Pass’ features an extremely crisp and full sounding studio mix, which just makes the end product sound so much heavier. Mixer Taylor Young (Nails) has done an amazing job of capturing the band’s sound and transitioning their old school vibe into a more modern and sonically pleasing experience.
Now, while the album is a full blown death metal assault set to please any fan of the genre, the real fun comes with the band’s Marijuana themed parody of their predecessors. I couldn’t help but laugh at every single song title on this album, starting with the name of the album itself, a take-off of Entombed’s legendary 1990 album ‘Left Hand Path’. Tracks like ‘Effigy of the Forgetful’ (Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten), In Dank Purity (Monstrosity’s In Dark Purity), and of course, ‘Papyrus Containing the Spell to Protect Its Possessor Against Attacks from He who Is in the Bong Water’ (in reference to a Nile song with a name of an equally obnoxious length) are just plain silly, and a lot of fun to boot. But while these titles parody a lot of the band’s influences, I can’t emphasise enough how original and killer the musical content of the album is.
The only problem I have with this release is that it felt like a fairly short listen, but that’s nothing repeat playthroughs can’t fix, which I’m sure anyone who subjects their earbuds to this modern death metal maelstrom will do.