By Matt Hinch, Cannibal Corpse concert photos by Adam Wills*
Toronto’s Phoenix played host to the second installment of The Decibel Magazine Tour. Where last year’s tour was Satanically based, this year was all about the death metal. The show was on a Friday night no less, meaning the venue was practically swollen with black shirts and long hair. Just as it should be. The death metal on hand came in the form of Montreal’s Beyond Creation, NYC’s Immolation, UK legends Napalm Death (ok, maybe not ALL death metal) and the one and only Cannibal Corpse.
Beyond Creation were tapped for the initial crowd-warmup. An unenviable task considering the bands to follow but they seemed unfazed by the challenge. Supporting their recent release The Aura these technical wizards did an admirable job. I must admit however, their work comes across better on record than the live environment. The extreme technicality during the longer instrumental sections lacks the kind of punch to get the crowd involved. Props for talent, but not the most engaging type of death metal. Bassist Dominic Lapointe was SICK on that fretless though.
In the #2 slot was NYC vets Immolation. Worthy of headlining themselves, not so on this tour. The lineup was that good. From what I did catch of their set, they did what they do best, which is pummeling into submission. While technical in their own right, being more riff based worked better than Beyond Creation in pumping the crowd up. Between beer line hell (“I don’t take dimes and nickles.” Gimme a break!) and getting some “fresh air” (moving air at least, if not exactly fresh. cough cough) I didn’t get Immo’s full effect but what I did see what great. Tracks from Majesty and Decay and new album Kingdom of Conspiracy went over especially well. Frontman Ross Dolan is really a presence despite his surprisingly small stature.
It probably goes without saying that Napalm Death fucking ruled. These Brits have been plying their trade long enough that they laid to rest any doubts long ago. Having seen ND play about a year and a half ago in no way lessened the impact of their performance. Embury, Herrera, Harris and Greenway tore The Phoenix apart with songs covering their entire career. Cuts from last year’s Utilitarian, back through Enemy of the Music Business and Harmony Corruption, all the way to Scum comprised their relentless set. Crowd favourites included “Suffer the Children”, “Taste the Poison”, “Scum” and of course, “You Suffer”. That one elicited a thunderous reaction once people realized that’s what it was. Greenway’s don’t-take-shit-laying-down belligerence was in fine form despite the sweltering heat, barking at the assemblage as they barked in return. Closing out their set with a cover of The Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” put a big ole exclamation mark on a stellar performance.
Anticipation was high and the heat/humidity even higher for headliners and death metal legends Cannibal Corpse. Fresh off their ‘hometown” date in Buffalo they came out with knives a-slashin’! By this point in the night the press of bodies on the main floor was damn near suffocating. Coupled with the intense heat, it was a sweaty affair indeed. Hair flying and riffs flying faster, Cannibal Corpse set a blistering pace for their 90+ minute, 20 song set. Their speedy and meaty riffs (Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett) brought the house to a boil propelled by Paul Mazurkiewicz‘s intense drumming and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher‘s awesome growls and screams. As the set wore on you could tell the heat was getting to them. (I’m telling you. It was murderously hot.) But they never let the performance suffer. Sure, the between song banter from Fisher got a little extended at times but that’s cool because he’s witty and fun and circle headbangs like a beast! Plus, it took longer and longer for bassist Alex Webster to wring the sweat out of his wrist bands. Can’t have bodily fluids foiling his jaw-dropping playing. (I was fixated on his fingers for most of the set.)
Like Napalm, they covered a wide range of their career. Tracks from later albums like Kill, Evisceration Plague and Torture going over just as well as their older work. Highlights like “Demented Aggression”, “Make Them Suffer”, “I Cum Blood”, “Dormant Bodies Bursting” and “Hammer Smashed Face” sent the sweaty mass into a frenzy of banging heads and flailing elbows. At one point, Corpsegrinder insisted the entire floor become one huge pit. And it did. A fearsome sight to behold. The heaving riffs of “Scourge of Iron” locked the crowd into a unified whole of metal brother/sisterhood. Near the end of the set, exhausted and soaking, Fisher dedicated “this set and this whole fucking tour” to the late Jeff Hanneman. That statement was followed by enthusiastic and extended, heartfelt applause. Rounding out the night with the aforementioned “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Striped, Raped and Strangled” Cannibal Corpse left the congregation with their mission accomplished and horns held high.
Soaked in sweat but satisfied nonetheless, those still conscious filtered out of the Phoenix with the only disappointment being that it had to end at some time. Props to Decibel for putting together a great lineup and to BC, Immo, Napalm and Cannibal for delivering the goods and destroying necks.
P.S. To the guy recording the whole Cannibal Corpse set on a Nintendo DS, you’re an idiot…
NB – all live Cannibal Corpse photos taken by Adam Wills at Heavy TO 2012