American death group CANNABIS CORPSE have returned from the haze with their new album, with a tip of the hat in ENTOMBED’s direction by naming it Left Hand Pass. Their fourth and previous album, From Wisdom to Baked, was one of the band’s landmark albums in their relatively short history. Formed by MUNICIPAL WASTE members Phil and Josh Hall, the band was originally formed almost jokingly to combat the typical lyrical themes of death metal, by incorporating marijuana into their lyrics and song titles. We gave Left Hand Pass a pull to see what the Floridian outfit have offered us this time around.
Any previous doubts that CANNABIS CORPSE are just a joke band, being clearly influenced by CANNIBAL CORPSE and making references to as many death metal bands as possible, are squandered upon hearing the improvements CANNABIS CORPSE have made. Kicking off with an ode to BOLT THROWER, The 420th Crusade offers an entrancing guitar section before unleashing the battery of riffs and drum blasts from Ray Suhy and Josh Hall respectively. Phil Hall’s vocals are as impressive as ever, and only sound better in Left Hand Pass. His highs and lows are solid in The 420th Crusade, which keeps you attentive as varying musical styles and sections make it an interesting listen. In Dank Purity has a similar effect and feel, with a more brutal death influenced track this time around with Phil’s almost guttural vocals, before returning to a more typical CANNABIS CORPSE sound. It must be said that this feeling does fade somewhat as the album progresses, as the number of memorable tracks depletes once the first half of the album is over.
You almost lose that feeling towards the end of the record. The final two tracks, clearly nodding in the direction of NILE, with its song titles more than their lyrics or musical style, are an example of some of CANNABIS CORPSE‘s best. The absolute standout on Left Hand Pass, however, belongs to Final Exhalation, which is arguably one of CANNABIS CORPSE‘s most impressive songs. Everything about this track works excellently, from the drum thrashing Josh Halls offers to the deep growls from Phil and savage guitar work from Ray, it demonstrates how CANNABIS CORPSE have developed over the years. They have become more than a marijuana gimmick as first perceived, and are beginning to show that they are a force to be reckoned with in death metal, for their musicianship just as much as they drive to combat conventional genre attitudes regarding lyrical content. This is one of the finest moments in Left Hand Pass.
Overall, Left Hand Pass is an album that could have been so much more. It has incredible moments, but its depletion in variation halfway through the album spoils the experience somewhat of what could have been CANNABIS CORPSE‘s best album yet. Their technicality and musicianship is clearly developing in a stronger direction, which is only illustrated further in their more technical areas, and with more work CANNABIS CORPSE could become more than they are now. One of the best things to take from this record is that CANNABIS CORPSE are at no lack for creativity or determination, as they continue to experiment and delve into their true potential more and more with each release.
Left Hand Pass is out now via Season of Mist.
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