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Cannibal Corpse were writing songs for their twelfth album last spring when guitarist Pat O'Brien got the call of a lifetime: come play for Slayer. O'Brien had written several songs for the upcoming album Torture, but his bandmates weren't about to hold him back.

"It happened right in the middle of writing," drummer and founding member Paul Mazurkiewicz said recently. "The first two songs were Pat's songs. He has four songs on the record and got the call [from Slayer] in April. We were in the thick of writing, but we continued until he got back. We knew he'd be fine and get back in the swing. What an experience for him and the band."

Mazurkiewicz said that Torture – recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas, starting in early September 2011 – is a combination of "the energy of Kill and the precision of Evisceration Plague." The focus: the right mix of power and dynamics. A simple, direct approach governs the album, again produced by Hate Eternal founder and guitarist Erik Rutan.

"Kill was a one-word title," Mazurkiewicz said. "We also had Vile and Bloodthirst. We like the one-word titles. We don't want things to feel obscure. Kill was a great title, simple as can be yet effective. We thought, Torture sounds good and has so many meanings."

Artist Vincent Locke, who has illustrated every Cannibal album cover since Eaten Back to Life, is back yet again. Mazurkiewicz said the Torture artwork is a throwback to early '90s Cannibal, compared with the slightly more understated covers of late. "It definitely fits the title," he said. "It's a torture scene with bodies hanging and a main torturer right in the middle. It's a step more in the 'Cannibal' vein than the last two records."

Kill (2006) and Evisceration Plague (2009) were recorded at Erik Rutan's Mana Recording. Cannibal returned to the Sonic Ranch, the world's largest residential recording complex, to eliminate daily stress and focus. The last album Cannibal recorded at the complex was The Wretched Spawn (2004) , when guitarist and founding member Jack Owen was still in the band. "We wanted to use Erik again but we wanted to move," Mazurkiewicz said. "When you're home you have to commute to get to the studio. At Sonic Ranch you are living on the grounds and it's all-inclusive. You wake up and eat and go to the studio. It's a great environment for work, and we wanted to do it again."

Cannibal worked in Texas throughout September on guitars, drums, and bass. The band returned to St. Petersburg in October to work on final guitar tracks, solos and vocals. Torture was finished at the end of November, just after Thanksgiving.

Mazurkiewicz said one of the biggest challenges as Cannibal's career progresses is playing one song from every album at concerts, as the band tries to do. "There's not an album where we just went through the motions," he said. "There's always going to be something that somebody loves on one of our records."

— Justin M. Norton

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Torture Track Listing:

1. Demented Aggression

2. Sarcophagic Frenzy

3. Scourge of Iron

4. Encased in Concrete

5. As Deep as the Knife Will Go

6. Intestinal Crank

7. Followed Home then Killed

8. The Strangulation Chair

9. Caged...Contorted

10. Crucifier Avenged

11. Rabid

12. Torn Through

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Torture will be released March 13 on Metal Blade Records.

Pre-order Torture and stream a new song here: Metal Blade

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