Concert Review – Cannibal Corpse & Behemoth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015)

If you want to live in the bitter cold of Toronto, you have to kill or become.

OPENING ACTS: Tribulation and Aeon

cannibal corpse_behemoth_winter tour 2015If you live in Toronto or anywhere nearby you know how bitterly cold the past couple of months have been. For instance, I personally don’t remember when we had temperatures above the freezing mark (or even above -5°C) for the last time, and it looks like February 2015 is about to become the coldest month in the history of Toronto. Well, nothing better than a hotter-than-hell extreme music night to warm up the hearts of lots of headbangers in the city, right? The venue chosen for this awesome gathering was the always welcoming Phoenix Concert Theatre, where friends wearing the T-shirts of their favorite extreme bands and even a group of girls with their well-crafted corpsepaint were able to enjoy some beers together, headbang like motherfuckers and especially slam into the circle pits.

The bands chosen to liven this mini-festival up were the excellent Swedish Death Metal bands TRIBULATION and AEON, both raising the flag of Scandinavian metal really high with their ferocious performances. If you truly love extreme music but have never heard of either Tribulation or Aeon, I kindly ask you to please go check these two bands: you’ll be surprised with how good they are. The first band was Tribulation, playing a very technical and progressive Death Metal permeated with elements from Black and Doom Metal and singing about darkness, horror, vampires, death and all other of those “beautiful” themes. In case you want to know more about this great Swedish band, my suggestions are the songs Beyond the Horror, Rånda and When the Sky Is Black With Devils, masterfully executed by this four-piece act in front of an avid Torontonian crowd.

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Aeon @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

After a short break it was time for Aeon to deliver their infernal music, blasting everyone’s ears and necks with each and every song played. Lead singer Tommy Dahlström is a beast on vocals (and you can easily notice he’s a huge fan of Cannibal Corpse by his stage performance), perfectly vociferating the violent lyrics of all songs of their brutal setlist, with highlights to the opening song Satanic Victory and also to the amazing Kill Them All and Blessed by the Priest. In addition, how can I describe the performance of drummer Emil Wiksten? That guy is like an unbelievable human stone crusher behind his drums so fast and precise he is, which added a lot of power and fury to the band’s performance. As I said, go after the music by Tribulation and Aeon as quick as the blast beats by Emil!

BEHEMOTH

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Behemoth @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

It was around 8:45pm when the iconic Nergal and his horde of darkness hit the stage with an incredible concert, both in terms of their ominous music and their unique theatrical performance, and it’s amazing how they were capable of delivering so much content in such a limited space. Still promoting their most recent album, the impeccable The Satanist, which even after one year of its release it continues to astonish me, Polish Black/Death Metal masters BEHEMOTH proved why they’re one of the most influential and portentous groups in the world of extreme music.

Although they didn’t play the best song of The Satanist in my opinion, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, the songs selected from the album were just as superb live, with highlights to Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer and Ben Sahar. Older classics also helped keep the audience mesmerized by their obscurity, such as Chant for Eschaton 2000 and Slaves Shall Serve. However, I believe almost everybody will agree with me when I say they simply kicked all possible asses with the already classic O Father O Satan O Sun!, a song that live sounds even more grandiose than its studio version, augmented by the band’s special satanic attire worn during its execution. This might sound stupid for a lot of people, but Behemoth performing this song at the Oscars would have been beyond spectacular. Unfortunately, the world and all mere mortals that live in it don’t seem ready for Behemoth yet.

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Behemoth @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

Also, it’s undeniable that Nergal is a true Extreme Metal leader and he’s passionate about what he does, and consequently he had almost all eyes staring at him during the whole concert, but the other band members are also wonderful and skillful musicians who help Nergal achieve the level of excellence he has in his mind for the band. Who didn’t enjoy the performance by bassist Orion, who looked like an even more devilish version of Gene Simmons’ stage persona The Demon? And what about the dark riffs by Seth or the rhythmic drumming by Inferno? What an awesome band, and if you missed them this time, may Lucifer have mercy on your soul. Or not.

Setlist
1. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
2. Conquer All
3. Ben Sahar
4. Decade of Therion
5. Messe Noire
6. Ov Fire and the Void
7. At the Left Hand ov God
8. Slaves Shall Serve
9. Chant for Eschaton 2000
10. O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

CANNIBAL CORPSE

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Cannibal Corpse @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

In order to properly close the night and pulverize anyone or anything that was still alive after Behemoth, Death Metal titans CANNIBAL CORPSE arose from the crypts of hell to transform the entire venue into their own “skeletal domain”, obviously promoting their most recent album, the visceral A Skeletal Domain. If there’s one thing that I love about Cannibal Corpse is the fact that they’re a band that always moves forward, despite having a solid past which they could live on forever like many classic bands do. All their latest albums are brutally superb, and technically speaking they’re getting better and better year after year.

Their setlist was an awesome mix of old classics and newer songs, including almost one track from each one of their albums, from Eaten Back to Life (1990) to last year’s A Skeletal Domain. Mosh pits and pure headbanging erupted with classics such as A Skull Full of Maggots, Demented Aggression, Make Them Suffer and The Wretched Spawn, while the selected songs from their new album for this tour, in special the great Sadistic Embodiment and the steamroller Kill or Become, intensified even more the hurricane that was happening on the “dance” floor.

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Cannibal Corpse @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 02/24/2015

Moreover, anything I say about the band members will just be pure repetition of common sense: they are all really talented musicians that love Death Metal above all things (well, Corpsegrinder said he loves pussy above all things), and that translates into pure electricity when they’re performing on the stage. You can barely see Alex Webster’s face, but he’s there delivering the most intricate bass lines you can find in extreme music, while Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett keep firing their evil riffs and Paul Mazurkiewicz his nonstop beats. And as I always say, Mr. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher is the face of Cannibal Corpse and the one to give life (or death) to the band’s gory lyrics while headbanging like a fuckin’ chopper in a way only he is capable of. Besides, seeing him scratching himself with one of Paul’s drumsticks due to an incontrollable itch in the middle of his back, and you know he’s not a small guy, was priceless.

When Cannibal Corpse played their last two songs, the unparalleled classics Hammer Smashed Face and Devoured by Vermin (my top Cannibal Corpse song of all time), they turned the whole venue into a fuckin’ monstrous mosh pit with absolutely no place to hide, showcasing how awesome those songs are. But do you think anyone in the audience complained about it? There were so many smiles and so much sweat everywhere when the show was over I’m pretty sure the fans of the Corpse cannot wait for them to storm Toronto once again and heat up our chilly winter with their perfect Death Metal. Fire up the chainsaw!

Setlist
1. Scourge of Iron
2. Demented Aggression
3. Evisceration Plague
4. Stripped, Raped and Strangled
5. Kill or Become
6. Sadistic Embodiment
7. Icepick Lobotomy
8. The Wretched Spawn
9. Pounded into Dust
10. I Cum Blood
11. Make Them Suffer
12. A Skull Full of Maggots
13. Hammer Smashed Face
14. Devoured by Vermin

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

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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