Barbaric Bludgeonings: Cannibal Corpse live in Lawrence, KS 07/15
With their first stop in the area since 2010′s headlining show at the same venue, American death metal legends topped a lineup for an off-date from the Rockstar Mayhem Festival at The Granada on Tuesday night and played for a packed and energetic audience.
There’s not a whole lot that can be said about the history of Cannibal Corpse that hasn’t already been espoused by critics and fans worldwide – they have been branded with the adjective “legendary” since almost the beginning of their long and storied career. Their music, defined by vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher as, “short stories that, if anyone would so choose they could convert it into a horror movie” and lyrics so repulsive, the band was namechecked by Senator Bob Dole in 1995 as “undermining the character of the nation.” With a history like that, it’s no wonder Cannibal Corpse has stood rigidly at the forefront of the American extreme metal movement. What’s always stood out about Cannibal Corpse is their preference for a little bit more style and depth to their music than at first glance. Their albums have always been stuffed to the brim with gory riffs and menacing vocals, sure, but on closer inspection there’s something more – an unexpected time signature change, or the highly technical bass playing of Alex Webster. It’s these changes, along with excellent death metal songwriting, that have kept Cannibal Corpse from becoming stale in recent years.
Taking the stage with no introduction, the band launched right into their frenzied opener “Unleashing The Bloodthirsty,” which led right into the classic “A Skull Full Of Maggots” with a riff so undeniable, it made everyone in the circle pit kick into overdrive. Frontman “Corpsegrinder” (best stage name ever, by the way) has his own hilarious way of interacting with the crowd – always chiding and berating the moshers for not slamming hard enough or for not headbanging nearly fast enough, but it’s done with an almost WWE heel-like quality that you can’t help but love. Now infamous for his windmill headbanging technique, it’s impressive the now-45 year old vocalist can headbang at a speed no one can match. The rest of the band always headbangs in unison in classic death metal style – long hair in front of the face until it’s time to headbang even harder.
The setlist for the night hit most of Cannibal’s history – the aforementioned “A Skull Full Of Maggots” along with “Gutted” and “Addicted To Vaginal Skin” come from the band’s first three albums, respectively; all three of those albums being over 20 years old now. But with the quality of Corpse’s whole discography, they also hit some newer songs, including three of the heaviest songs of the night – “Decency Defied,” “Evisceration Plague” and the absolute heaviest song in the world “Scourge of Iron.” When Cannibal Corpse slows their usual frantic pace down to a crawl, it brings out some of the most crushing riffs in death metal history. Ending the set with maybe the most famous death metal song in history, “Hammer Smashed Face” and the always brutal “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” had the crowd go out with a bang – with all their brains moshed out.
Direct support fell to one of the most divisive bands of the past few years – Suicide Silence. Champions of the deathcore movement back when it first came about, they’ve moved from that and have taken a more straight-forward approach into modern sounding brutal death metal. Vocalist Eddie Hermida, replacing the late Mitch Lucker, was animated on stage, reaching out to the crowd and directing them in their moshing and sing-alongs. While his lower growls were just fine, his higher vocals hit a register that just sounded grating as their set went on. But for that minor complaint, the band made up for it with energy and a ravenous crowd that obviously was at the show just as much for Suicide Silence as they were for Cannibal Corpse.
The first of the touring bands was newer band Wretched. Their take on modern death/thrash metal sounds like a conglomeration of The Black Dahlia Murder, Havok, Revocation and Battlecross – very fast music with little low-end that ends up in lots of headbanging and a frantic and very sweaty crowd after just a few songs. For not being as well-known as the bands they opened for, Wretched did a good job warming up the crowd and received a great reception. They even had the lone stage diver of the night.
Opening the already packed show was Kansas City brutal death metal band Gornography. Taking the slamming groove of Devourment and the riffing and guttural vocals of Putrid Pile, the band combines them together with the stage antics of vocalist Stephen Babcock resulted in a typical show from Gornography. A typical show that puts most other bands at their level to shame. Set closer “Lakes of Gore” was one of the heaviest songs of the night and one of the heaviest songs to come out of the Midwest in a very long time.
Props to The Granada for their sound at this show – up close and further back the instruments sounded pretty clear. It’s hard to keep a band loud yet clear when they have lots of little intricacies that need to come through in their music, like Cannibal Corpse, but somehow they married those two elements. Fantastic sound the entire evening.
Cannibal Corpse setlist:
1. Unleashing The Bloodthirsty
2. A Skull Full of Maggots
3. Addicted To Vaginal Skin
4. An Experiment In Homicide
5. Sentenced To Burn
7. Scourge of Iron
8. Demented Aggression
9. Evisceration Plague
10. Dormant Bodies Bursting
11. Disposal Of The Body
12. Decency Defied
13. I Cum Blood
14. Make Them Suffer
15. Hammer Smashed Face
16. Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Suicide Silence setlist:
2. No Pity For A Coward
4. Wake Up
5. Cease to Exist
7. You Can’t Stop Me
8. Slaves To Substance
9. You Only Live Once
All photos in this post via Jackson May