Concert Review – Cannibal Corpse (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 11/15/2019)

Over 30 years of evisceration, torture, mutilation, killing, blood and cannibalism in an awesome night of first-class Death Metal in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Perdition Temple and Thy Art Is Murder

I can’t describe in words how happy I am whenever a metal concert is scheduled for a Friday or Saturday night in Toronto, especially when the music in question is old school Death Metal. I mean, we need at least one full day to recover from all the insanity going on in the circle pits, right? And that’s probably why all fans at The Opera House this Friday, November 15 went the extra mile in terms of energy, rage and madness, slamming like it was their last night on earth to the sound of Perdition Temple, Thy Art Is Murder and my favorite Death Metal band of all time, the almighty Cannibal Corpse, pulverizing everything and everyone that crossed their path on a cold but fantastic night in Toronto.

It took forever for the concerts to start, probably because of the huge line that was formed at the door, with security even doing the checks while people were still in line and not right at the entrance. That was an indication that The Opera House was going to be jam packed (and it actually was), and after tons of non-metal songs played by the house DJ for a reason beyond my understanding (well, at least when he played Toto’s classic Africa some metalheads had a good time singing it), the first attraction of the night, Tampa, Florida-based Black/Death Metal horde PERDITION TEMPLE, finally hit the stage and began their short but solid setlist. Formed in 2009 by guitarist Gene Palubicki (from old school cult act Angelcorpse), the trio comprised of Gene together with bassist and vocalist Alex Blume and drummer Ronnie Parmer played a well-balanced setlist including songs from all of their releases, with songs like To Bleed at War, The Tempter’s Victorious and Goddess in Death already igniting some decent circle pits in the floor section. I personally enjoyed their performance a lot, and if you’re curious to know how the music by those Ameircan metallers sounds, simply check their official BandCamp page and, who knows, you might end up adding one of their albums to your devilish collection.

Setlist
The Tempter’s Victorious
Plague Camp
Testament to Annihilation
To Bleed at War
Goddess In Death

Band members
Alex Blume – vocals, bass
Gene Palubicki – guitars, vocals
Ronnie Parmer – drums

After a short break where most fans went either to the bar to grab some cold beer or to the bathroom to make room for more beer,  it was time for Sydney, Australia-based Deathcore outfit THY ART IS MURDER to show Toronto what they got, giving a lesson in slamming with their heavy-as-hell and politicized compositions. Comprised of vocalist Chris “CJ” McMahon, guitarists Sean Delander and Andy Marsh, bassist Kevin Butler and drummer Jesse Beahler, this excellent Deathcore unity from Down Under blasted a demolishing setlist including songs from their newest album Human Target, such as Make America Hate Again and New Gods, which by the way I thought sounded amazing live, with older hits like Reign of Darkness, Fur and Claw and Puppet Master, driving the fans nuts while crushing their skulls inside the humongous mosh pit that dominated the entire floor section as soon as the band began their show. I must say CJ McMahon is not only an extremely talented vocalist, delivering his trademark deep, guttural growls and his inhuman screeches, but he’s also a very charismatic and humble guy, making it visible to everyone at the venue how happy and impressed he was with the reception by his Torontonians fans. After all was said and done, I was able to confirm Thy Art Is Murder is indeed one of the best bands hailing from the current metal scene in Australia, both in studio and when on stage, and after witnessing them live for the first time ever I can’t wait to see when those guys will get back to Toronto for another round of their unrelenting Deathcore.

Setlist
Death Squad Anthem
Make America Hate Again
Fur and Claw
Slaves Beyond Death
Holy War
No Absolution
Human Target
The Son of Misery
New Gods
Reign of Darkness
Puppet Master

Band members
Chris “CJ” McMahon – vocals
Andy Marsh – lead guitar
Sean Delander – rhythm guitar
Kevin Butler – bass
Jesse Beahler – drums

CANNIBAL CORPSE

The wait for the one and only Death Metal institution CANNIBAL CORPSE was finally over when it was getting close to 9:30pm, and from the very first note of the opening track Code of the Slashers, from their latest opus Red Before Black, released in 2017, until the closing moments from their gruesome all-time classic Hammer Smashed Face, it was pure Armageddon in the form of ass-kicking Death Metal. The unstoppable vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (I still don’t know how he can headbang like a beast for so long), guitarists Rob Barret and Erik Rutan (the lead singer and guitarist for Hate Eternal who is filling in on guitar during this tour due to the arrest of guitarist Pat O’Brien), the phenomenal bassist Alex Webster, and the precise drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz set The Opera House on fire with their visceral and absolutely perfect Death Metal, playing “horror classics” from almost all of their albums (which you can find on sale from their own BandCamp page), including my favorite Cannibal Corpse song of all time, Devoured by Vermin, from their 1996 album Vile, and the sensational Kill or Become, from their 2014 album A Skeletal Domain, where you could see several fans “firing up their chainsaws” together with Corpsegrinder. It was so insane I could barely take my phone out for some decent pictures.

Every single time I watch Alex Webster live I get more and more impressed with his technique, feeling and groove, proving why he’s in my opinion the best extreme music bassist of all time. As a matter of fact, how many Death, Thrash and Black Metal bands have bassists that you can actually listen to in detail while performing live? Not only that, but the band’s setlist was also impressive as already mentioned, and that’s probably one of the reasons why Alex and the guys were so brutal and awesome on stage this Friday. Songs like Red Before Black, Gutted, Make Them Suffer and Stripped, Raped and Strangled were the catalyst of some of the most demented circle pits you can imagine, while Scourge of Iron and the demonic Evisceration Plague were perfect for breaking our necks headbanging like maniacs. Another thing that was really entertaining during the band’s flawless performance were all the jokes by Corpsegrinder, showing that behind that brutal headbanging beast there’s a very kind and fun guy. When he offered “NOTHING” from the bottom of his heart to the fans we could see how excited he was with the warm and violent reception from the crowd. And what to say about his personal intro in I Cum Blood, where he dared the fans to try to headbang like him (and, of course, we would all fail miserably in his own words)? That’s what I call a frontman, my friends, never letting the energy go down and always reminding us why the band has been on the road alive and kicking since 1988. When the show was over, you could see many, many fans dripping wet of their own (and others’) sweat and beer leaving the venue without a jacket when the temperature was around -5oC, mostly due to the adrenaline still flowing through their veins, and you know what? That’s when you know there was a damn good Death Metal night in Toronto, obviously spearheaded by our beloved Cannibal Fuckin’ Corpse.

Setlist
Code of the Slashers
Only One Will Die
Red Before Black
Scourge of Iron
Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead
The Wretched Spawn
Devoured by Vermin
Unleashing the Bloodthirsty
Gutted
Kill or Become
A Skull Full of Maggots
Evisceration Plague
Firestorm Vengeance
Death Walking Terror
I Cum Blood
Make Them Suffer
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Hammer Smashed Face

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Erik Rutan – lead guitar
Rob Barrett – rhythm guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Album Review – Cannibal Corpse / Red Before Black (2017)

Always loyal to their foundations and sounding rawer and more aggressive than ever, here comes the most hardworking act in Death Metal with another first-class onslaught of sheer brutality.

If there’s a band in extreme music that not only remains loyal to their foundations, but that also keeps delivering excellence with each and every album release, that band are American death metallers Cannibal Corpse. This Buffalo-based Death Metal institution never disappoints, always providing us fans everything we crave in extreme music, playing their music almost to perfection while maintaining a high level of rawness and aggressiveness in their sonority at all times, which is exactly the case in Red Before Black, the fourteenth studio album in their vile, ruthless and gory career. Having said that, do you have what it takes to face another brutal installment by the Corpse?

Released three years after the good A Skeletal Domain and featuring a slashing artwork by American comic book artist Vince Locke, Red Before Black not only proves why Cannibal Corpse are still alive and kicking after almost 40 years on the road, fighting against all odds and always going against anything that can be considered mainstream, but it also shows that there’s no sign of the band slowing down or venturing through less violent fields. Quite the contrary, it seems that the Corpse is thirstier for guts, entrails and blood than ever.  “We always try to make our music aggressive, but where an album like ‘A Skeletal Domain’ was definitely aggressive, it has a targeted refinement that the new album doesn’t. ‘Red Before Black’ is as well executed as anything we’ve done, but it has a rawness to it that we haven’t had in a long time,” asserted bassist Alex Webster.

Raw and putrid sounds impregnate our ears from the very first second in Only One Will Die, with the guitars by Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett sounding pulverizing while George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher barks manically as usual, showing why he’s one of the most respected and consistent growlers still in action. Furthermore, its lyrics reek of traditional Cannibal Corpse (“Both of us will throttle / Strangling with rage / Both consumed by madness, revenge has us enslaved / Both are badly wounded / And struggle to survive / Both are fighting to the death but only one will die”). Brutality keeps flowing from all instruments in the fantastic title-track Red Before Black, where the competent old school drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz maintains the pace at a frantic level while Corpsegrinder vociferates the song’s lancinating name ferociously. And those guys never get tired of blasting sheer Death Metal to our metallic ears, delivering violence and bloodshed from start to finish in this ominous circle pit-generator Code of the Slashers, with their always demonic guitar solos enhancing the song’s electricity to the limit; whereas Shedding My Human Skin is mid-tempo slashing tune where guitars penetrate deep inside our mind while Alex and Paul keep punching us in the head ruthlessly. The song loses its taste a bit after a while, though, but it’s still a decent creation by our beloved Corpse.

Get ready to be massacred by Corpsegrinder and his henchmen in Remaimed (let’s see if you can survive this hurricane of Death Metal), with all instruments played with extreme violence, in special the bass by Alex who once again proves why he’s in my humble opinion the best Extreme Metal bassist of all time; followed by Firestorm Vengeance, a heavy-as-hell metal tempest ignited by putrid, raw riffs that grow in intensity until all hell breaks loose, led by the unstoppable Paul on drums. Put differently, if you’re getting to know Cannibal Corpse at this point in your life, this is a very good sample of their more contemporary sound. Heads Shoveled Off is perfect for banging your head like Corpsegrinder himself, while Paul keeps demolishing his drums and the guitar duo Pat and Rob shows no mercy by cutting our ears with their sharp-edged strings, not to mention the song’s slashing words (“Back in Nam he killed a man / A shovel was used to cut his head off / Now forever changed lust to decapitate / Chop at the neck to keep the skull intact / Going insane / Come back deranged”), and displaying hints of progressiveness but still maintaining the band’s crude sonority, Corpus Delicti is another great job done by Rob and Pat with their axes, delivering amazing riffs and solos nonstop.

Red Before Black Collectors Bundle

In Scavenger Consuming Death we have the pleasure to witness Mr. Webster doing what he does best, shaking the foundations of the earth with his devilish bass lines, also presenting a fantastic chorus to follow along with Corpsegrinder, as well as visceral guitar solos and a thrilling pace. In other words, it can’t get any more Cannibal Corpse than this. The crude, primeval sonority found in In the Midst of Ruin, a beyond perfect tune for some carnage inside the circle pit, takes us back to the band’s early days, with Alex Webster firing bestial, rumbling tunes from his bass; while Destroyed Without a Trace, the second to last tune in Red Before Black, is filled with the band’s trademark harmony and aggressiveness (and a Corpsegrinder sounding more enraged than you can imagine), with all breaks and changes from slower, heavier moments to sheer devastation making it a great choice for their live concerts. Lastly, closing this crushing record we have more of the band’s old school Death Metal in Hideous Ichor, which despite being slightly below the rest of the album in terms of quality, it’s still very enjoyable if you’re a longtime fan of the band.

Metal Blade Records kind of surprised us all by uploading the full album on their YouTube channel, but of course in case you’re also a “Corpse addict” like myself you’re certainly going to buy your favorite version of the album at their webstore, like the Red Before Black Collectors Bundle, including among a ton of pretty cool stuff a bonus CD named “Blood Covered”, featuring Cannibal Corpse turning some metal classic by Accept, Metallica, Kreator, Possessed and other bands into their own infernal sound. Red Before Black exhales pure Cannibal Corpse, and it will surely maintain this fantastic Death Metal horde relevant in the minds of old school metal fans, it will show newcomers to the world of heavy music how Death Metal should always be played, and last but not least, it will keep haunting the souls of those who are not brave enough to face the most hardworking band in the history of extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Only One Will Die, Red Before Black, Heads Shoveled Off and Scavenger Consuming Death.

Worst moments of the album: Shedding My Human Skin and Hideous Ichor.

Released in 2017 Metal Blade Records

Track listing 
1. Only One Will Die 3:24
2. Red Before Black 3:12
3. Code of the Slashers 4:45
4. Shedding My Human Skin 3:28
5. Remaimed 4:13
6. Firestorm Vengeance 3:43
7. Heads Shoveled Off 3:37
8. Corpus Delicti 3:29
9. Scavenger Consuming Death 4:33
10. In the Midst of Ruin 3:25
11. Destroyed Without a Trace 4:01
12. Hideous Ichor 4:33

Limited edition bonus disc “Blood Covered”
13. Sacrifice (Sacrifice cover) 3:04
14. Confessions (Possessed cover) 2:58
15. No Remorse (Metallica cover) 6:16
16. Demon’s Night (Accept cover) 4:17
17. Bethany Home (A Place to Die) (The Accused cover) 3:20
18. Endless Pain (Kreator cover) 3:11
19. Behind Bars (Razor cover) 2:20

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Pat O’Brien – guitar
Rob Barrett – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums

Guest musician
Erik Rutan – backing vocals on “Only One Will Die”, lead guitar on “In the Midst of Ruin”

Album Review – Cannibal Corpse / A Skeletal Domain (2014)

Long live the Corpse and their wicked domain of Death Metal.

Rating4

Cannibal Corpse_A Skeketal DomainIn my humble opinion, the most important legacy the city of Buffalo, New York (also known as “The Queen City”) will ever leave to humanity is the unrivalled twisted music by American Death Metal heavyweights Cannibal Corpse. Not only that, I personally consider George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, Alex Webster & Co. the best, most cohesive and most amusing Death Metal band of all time, and now once again they prove us all why they’re so awesome with the excellent A Skeletal Domain, the thirteenth studio album in their path of ruthless devastation.

One might ask how they keep being relevant in heavy music after all those years, maintaining their musicality almost intact but without sounding repetitive at the same time. Well, although every Cannibal Corpse album has the band’s hallmarks such as their gruesome lyrics and intrinsic brutal instrumental and vocals, those guys somehow manage to reinvent themselves and offer something distinct in each of their releases. For instance, A Skeletal Domain provides us a darker and more freakish sounding than their previous albums, as mentioned by bassist Alex Webster in some recent interviews. Just take a look at the Stygian album art and you’ll have an idea of how eerie this album is.

In order to kick off the album the best way possible, the band invites us to join them in this dark domain of music with the aggressive High Velocity Impact Spatter, which right after a quick Horror movie-ish intro becomes a Death Metal feast full of excellent riffs, solos and creativity led by bassist Alex Webster and guitarists Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett. Moreover, the initial roar by Mr. Corpsegrinder and the desperate way he screams the chorus prove once again why he’s and will always be the true voice of Cannibal Corpse. Following that sonic massacre we have Sadistic Embodiment, a song that couldn’t be more Cannibal Corpse than that, with Alex Webster kicking ass one more time and Paul Mazurkiewicz always killing on drums; and Kill or Become, a song about a zombie outbreak with a beautiful message in the lyrics (“Fire up the chainsaw / Hack all their heads off / Fire up the chainsaw / Hack their fucking heads off”), with the instrumental parts reminding me of another Cannibal Corpse track, “As Deep as the Knife Will Go”, intensified by a sick guitar solo by Rob Barrett. Do I need to mention it is more than perfect to be part of any truly disgusting zombie movie soundtrack?

Cannibal CorpseAnd their rampant Death Metal extravaganza goes on with the amazing title-track, A Skeletal Domain, another lesson in bestiality with highlights to its insane double bass and superb riffs. I simply love the chorus and how Corpsegrinder “recites” the lyrics, especially when he says people are turning into some kind of creatures that are “not a zombie not a human”. Can you imagine how grotesque those creatures are? Anyway, Headlong into Carnage is a straightforward song made for breaking your neck due to the intensity which you’ll bang your head, where the instrumental parts sound like old school Thrash Metal in many moments, followed by The Murderer’s Pact, which is more melodic than all previous tracks and where Corpsegrinder’s voice and the guitar riffs end up making a very interesting duo.

Funeral Cremation, with its Black Metal elements and very macabre lyrics, and the “smooth” Ice-Pick Lobotomy, with its complex musicality (especially the bass lines and all the guitar shredding), keep the overall quality of the album really high, while Vector of Cruelty, despite not being as powerful as the other tracks, offers us pure traditional Death Metal with some interesting rhythmic breaks. And what can I say about the fast and furious Bloodstained Cement? The violence in its lyrics is outstanding (“Smash his skull onto the pavement / Make the bastard pay / Don’t stop until it cracks / And spills out his brain”), and I cannot wait for the absurd circle pits this song will generate if played live.

Lastly, there’s still time for more extreme music with Asphyxiate to Resuscitate, with another awesome performance by Mr. Corpsegrinder and some excellent drumming blended really well with some sick guitar lines and solos, and the fast and heavy neck-breaking tune Hollowed Bodies, with its evil guttural vocals and Paul Mazurkiewicz stealing the show again, to finish exterminating whoever is still alive. However, regardless of all that savagery, the guys from Cannibal Corpse are far from being heartless individuals, as A Skeletal Domain is dedicated to the memory of Michael Trengert, who was the managing director of Silverdust Records and former promoter at Nuclear Blast and manager of Metal Blade Records Europe. He passed away on September 23, 2013, leaving many friends all over the world.

In addition, as I’ve already mentioned a billion times before, there would be no Cannibal corpse without bassist Alex Webster. As a matter of fact, that guy is not just a regular Death Metal bassist like those ones you can barely listen to and who usually don’t make any difference to their bands’ musicality. The architect and mastermind behind the realm of the Corpse is a fuckin’ wild beast responsible for the darkest, sickest, most innovative, most fiendish and most intricate bass lines one can ever imagine in the world of extreme music, elevating the quality of their records so much even some people who loathe traditional Death Metal have to acknowledge how good Cannibal Corpse are. Pay attention to all the bass lines in each and every song from A Skeletal Domain, they’re beyond impressive!

In summary, A Skeletal Domain might not be as magnificent as Vile (1996), Kill (2006) or Torture (2012), which I consider the best Cannibal Corpse albums of all time, but it is indeed an amazing record that will surely keep the Corpse alive after almost 30 years of wildness, expanding their perverse domain of Death Metal and, of course, it’s also an excellent choice to invest your hard-earned money (go for the “A Skeletal Domain Deluxe Bundle”, it’s just plain awesome) if you’re a real fan of traditional Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: High Velocity Impact Spatter, A Skeletal Domain and Bloodstained Cement.

Worst moments of the album: The Murderer’s Pact and Vector of Cruelty.

Released in 2014 Metal Blade Records

Track listing
1. High Velocity Impact Spatter 4:06
2. Sadistic Embodiment 3:17
3. Kill or Become 3:50
4. A Skeletal Domain 3:38
5. Headlong into Carnage 3:01
6. The Murderer’s Pact 5:05
7. Funeral Cremation 3:41
8. Ice-Pick Lobotomy 3:16
9. Vector of Cruelty 3:25
10. Bloodstained Cement 3:41
11. Asphyxiate to Resuscitate 3:47
12. Hollowed Bodies 3:05

Band members
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – vocals
Pat O’Brien – guitar
Rob Barrett – guitar
Alex Webster – bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz – drums