As soon as this show ended and my friend and I found each other amidst the human debris of the mosh pit, I asked him, “Why do we always under-estimate these metal shows? We always have a great time!” to which he replied, “Because we want to be intellectual metal snobs but deep down inside we just love fucking metal.”
Cannibal Corpse are intensity personified. Cannibal Corpse are ridiculous, grotesque, and beyond offensive. Cannibal Corpse are a big, bloated, sack of swollen body parts; or rather they sing about such things on a regular basis. Cannibal Corpse are one of the longest running and most prolific Death Metal outfits in America. You could call them kings of their corner of the music underground; sporting titles well-fought with halberd and mace, guitar and kick-drum. Their subject matter is absurd and their music is brutal. For me their show on Sunday night at Rock & Roll Hotel started out as a lark; a trip down teen nostalgia lane. At its end I found myself drenched in sweat with a big bloody smile on my face as my innards slowly settled back into place after the aural pounding that Cannibal Corpse had delivered unto them.
There are three components of a Cannibal Corpse show and all three were in top form on Sunday night. First, the crowd. Rock & Roll Hotel was completely packed with a sweaty mob of metal fans of all ages who were really giving it the gusto. Whipped into a frenzy by openers Vital Remains’ big, dumb, fast set; then pummeled by Dying Fetus’ precision brutal tempo; the crowd was primed and ready for Cannibal Corpse to set things off with a bang. The kids in the pit were frothing at the mouth, transformed into primordial warriors of metal by their own raging hormones, Cannibal Corpse’s immature antics, and the band’s absurdly tight Death Metal blitzkrieg.
The band sounded way better than I had expected. I guess I should have known better. You don’t get to the top of your genre and defend your place there without being in top fighting shape. Cannibal Corpse has had a shifting line-up over the years and the current band is composed of members from its different eras. The most notable difference in the line-up is lead singer, George Corpsegrinder Fisher. To call Fisher the new singer would be an insult, he has been with the band since 1995; longer than their original singer Chris Barnes was. However, for older fans such as myself, Corpsegrinder does delineate the old school Cannibal Corpse from the ‘new stuff’.
Not that the ‘new stuff’ is anything to sneeze at. In fact I feel that their last two albums “Kill” and “Evisceration Plague” are somewhat of a second coming for these Death Metal elders. The new material sounded fantastic live, particularly the double-shot of the title tracks from both albums.* Luckily Corpsegrinder has been with the band for so long that he has completely ingested their original era material and was able to do it justice whenever they dipped into their ancient Hyperborean days.
The metal talent on display was off the charts. Cannibal Corpse build their songs on hot rod tempo chassis, that the listener can barely hold onto, even with white knuckled determination. Their super-fast percussive stutter is then drenched in brick-ton heavy guitars that crush down on the listener’s back, forcing the head down into natural head-banging position. Every once in awhile a squealing guitar solo bursts out to shred the air like a winged-demon shrieking. Fans of brutal tempo metal simply could not find a better night’s entertainment on Sunday night.
Of course saying offensive things is the third part of Cannibal Corpse’s live show. I mean just re-read their band name for a second and let it sink in. Cannibal Corpse. They are ridiculous. All night long Corpsegrinder said absurd and insulting things. He threatened to kill members of the crowd on several occasions. One song was introduced as being “about our favorite thing… other than killing people… fucking zombies!” He then went on a mini-rant about the differences between making love to zombies and killing them. This culminated in him screaming the name of the next song in his Death Metal voice; it was something along the lines of “Shot Through The Balls”. Masters of subtlety Cannibal Corpse are not.
I did not think that I could be shocked by anything Cannibal Corpse said, did, or sang about. I am an incredibly thick-skinned, good humored, and generally well-traveled sort who has seen or heard just about everything. So imagine my surprise as I found myself blanched by Corpsegrinder’s dedication of “Priests of Sodom” to all the ladies in the house. It isn’t often that you hear someone threaten to hunt down and rape someone else. Let alone a group of someones. Now I’ve been around the block plenty of times, and I have heard worse things uttered in jest (and Fisher was certainly joking) but blame it on me getting soft with age or something because my mouth hung agape in shock when he threatened “the bitches in the back who think they’re better than everyone else”.** Of course the rabid crowd loved it. Especially the tough as nails and rather frightening pack of metal babes who were giving it as good as they got it in the pit during the dedicated song. On Sunday night, if there was only one thing that Cannibal Corpse proved they know how to do well, it is to give their fans what they want.
* I know “The Time To Kill Is Now” is technically not the title track of “Kill” but it might as well be considered as such.
** Maybe they were just tired dude. Seriously. Take a chill pill.
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