February 18th, 2016 will be a day that most Boston death metal fans will not soon forget. The Paradise Night Club was jam-packed for a tour package that consisted of death metal veterans Abysmal Dawn, Cryptopsy, Obituary, and Cannibal Corpse. Unfortunately, Abysmal Dawn did not make it out to this stop on the tour as they were apparently stuck in New Jersey. But, as the cliché goes, the show must go on!
Cryptopsy, by Evil Robb Photography
Cryptopsy was up first which was probably my most anticipated band of the night as they were the only band I had yet to see live. It was nice to say I had finally seen the long time technical death metal band, but it just did not seem the same without hearing Lord Worm’s vocals. Even with a set list that was a majority of old material from None So Vile (Century Media) and Blasphemy Made Flesh (Century Media), I just found myself disinterested in Matt McGachy’s vocals. The mix was also a little off as the bass was clearly overpowering the other elements on stage.
Obituary, by Evil Robb Photography
Next up, the legendary Floridian death metal outfit, Obituary. I, for one, was very excited to see them again since my first experience seeing them at Maryland Death Fest last year was limited (hey, a guy has to find food, even if that means sacrificing time in the pits). From the start of the set until the final note (which seemed like they were cut short), the fans had the floor moving violently and very well stole the show. Prior to this evening, I already considered myself a fan of Obituary. However, after this set which seemed to fly by was over, I realized that I liked them a lot more than I initially had thought. One of the better sets I have ever seen from a death metal band.
Cannibal Corpse, by Evil Robb Photography
Finally, it was time for the biggest name in the death metal scene, Cannibal Corpse. Having seen this group countless times, I had most of the set list figured out going into the night. Staple tracks such as ‘Scourge of Iron’ , ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’ , and ‘Make Them Suffer’ were scattered into the sixteen song set. As for some surprises, we were lucky enough to catch ‘Death Walking Terror’ , ‘Pit of Zombies’ (my personal favorite) , and ‘Born in a Casket’. I had not yet seen any of those three songs live yet so it is safe to say I was very happy with Cannibal Corpse this time around. For a band that tours as much as they do, it must be hard to try and promote new material while also playing some older tunes but have about 30 years of material to cover in a short window. Having said that, switching up a few songs here and there to pull out some rarely played live tracks is always a crowd pleaser. Obviously the biggest pit of the night went to ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ which even included a few female participants!
Cannibal Corpse, by Evil Robb Photography
Overall, I was very pleased with the show even after being let down by Cryptopsy and Abysmal Dawn not making it out of New Jersey in time for this show. Obituary and Cannibal Corpse proved to the Boston fans in attendance how they have stood the test of time as death metal bands and can still bring it on a live setting.
Cannibal Corpsehas booked a European tour with Krisiun and Hideous Divinity as support acts. Cannibal Corpse is still supporting their 2014 release A Skeletal Domain, which was released on Metal Blade.
Alex Webster commented on the tour:
“We’re psyched to be heading back to Europe for the final leg of the “A Skeletal Domain” tour with such a crushing lineup of bands. Everyone knows the level of brutality our friends Krisiun can deliver, and they’ll soon see what Hideous Divinity are capable of, too. We can’t wait to get this 3-band death metal bulldozer rolling- Europe, be ready!”
Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse, by Hillarie Jason
EMP, Metal Hammer, Musix presents Cannibal Corpse, Krisiun and Hideous Divinity
Apr 15: Roxy – Flensburg, DE
Apr 16: Vega – Copenhagen, DK
Apr 17: Sentralen -Oslo, NO
Apr 18: Sticky Fingers – Gothenburg, SE
Apr 19: Klubben -Stockholm, SE
Apr 21: Nosturi – Helsinki, FL
Apr 22: Tapper- Tallinn, EE
Apr 23: Melna Piektdiena- Riga, LV
Apr 24: Loftas – Vilnius, LT
Apr 25: Proxima – Warsaw , PL
Apr 26: Blue Note- Poznan , PL
Apr 27: Meet Factory – Prague, CZ
Apr 28: Vintage Industrial Bar – Zagreb, HR
Apr 29: Kino Siska – Ljubljana, SI
Apr 30: Weekender – Innsbruck, AT
May 0:1 Alcatraz – Milan, IT
May 03: Le Moloco – Audincourt, FR
May 04: Leipzi – Hellraiser, DE
May 05: Mau – Rostock, DE
May 06: Airport Obertraubling, Regensburg, DE
May 07: Alter Schlachthof, Lingen, DE
May 08: Schlachthof – Wiesbaden, DE
May 10: Kiff – Aarau, CH
May 11: 013 Tilburg, NL
May 12: Musikzentrum, Hannover, DE
May 13: Substage – Karlsruhe, DE
May 14-15: Rock Hard Festival – Gelsenkirchen, DE – Rock Hard Festival (Cannibal Corpse)
After New England has taken the beating of a lifetime from Mother Nature this winter in the form of tons of snow, and frigid temps, it was good to feel the warmth of a venue again. This night was not just poised to be a memorable metal concert, but it was my two-year anniversary with my girlfriend Tara. Keep your flowers and candy; I can’t think of anything more romantic than a night of top-shelf death metal, gore and blasphemy, and my beloved agrees, so off we went to Boston for the show.
I had access to the House of Blues Foundation Room for me and lady on this night. I had some preconceived notions about what the experience was going to be like: corporate and sterile. I could not be more wrong about the unassuming, funky Indian-themed environment. I had a blast and would do it again.
Tribulation opened the show and they were killer. It seems like the band is poised for bigger things here in the US and it was great to see so many fans in the venue super into them. Maybe it’s because Johannes Anderson kind of looks like Evan Peters from American Horror Story. No, that’s not it. They played an awesome set of a few favorites and one new song from their forthcoming album Children of the Night, dropping in May from Century Media.
Aeon just flat out destroyed! From the first note to the last they just brutalized the audience to death musically. They were the “aha” band for many when this tour was announced, some fans I know claiming they would leaved after the heavy Swedes were done exsanguinating us all. In the mean time this band keeps killing it big time year after year. They played a brilliant, if too brief for me set with happy little tunes such as ‘Satanic Victory’, ‘Living Sin’, ‘God Gives Head In Heaven’ and ‘Forever Nailed’. I caught up with Tommy Dahlstrom backstage for a quick interview between bands and he said he’d never been happier with a tour. You could tell from their performance it was true.
Behemothwas next and I thought right off the bat it would be hard for them to live up to their performance for last spring. In my mind that was as flawless a performance as I might ever see in Death Metal, and I have seen some great ones. Well they certainly came close again tonight. On the even bigger stage of the House of Blues, Nergal and his comrades in Behemoth certainly seemed like larger than life heroes. Milking every ounce of energy and adulation the audience could give, Nergal cajoled cheers and demanded attention with every dramatic arm movement and pose. With the set list now comprising at least half of 2013’s The Satanist (Nuclear Blast) plus the “hits”, it would be nice to hear the band play more from their classic, 90s material. But alas, I doubt we will hear too much of those songs in the future, which is a shame. Still, if the show had ended here I wouldn’t have complained.
Nearly any other band would have been hard pressed to follow the performance just witnessed. Cannibal Corpse does live what they have done every step of their career: play technical death metal with effortless mastery. After 25 years it says a lot that they can play a brutal set of 14 tracks and, still leave you wanting more. Newer cuts like ‘Evisceration Plague’ and ‘Kill or Become’ flow perfectly with ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ and ‘The Wretched Spawn’. The pits were consistently awesome for the Corpse, as opposed to Behemoth, but that is likely due to the up and down tempos of the co-headliners. Although I have seen the band countless times, they never fail to amazing with putting on a great set. Corpsegrinder was hilarious as always with his in between song banter, allowing him to be the foil, while his bandmates focus on playing. They continue to be the gold-standard of all death metal band and arguably the best ever.
…And so we continue with our countdown of the Official Ghost Cult Top 50 Metal releases of 2014 by bringing you Albums 20 to 16. As we get closer the top, the sheer unadulterated quality of the albums covered is astounding, and every one of our Top 20 should proudly sit in your collection already. And if they don’t, you should get investigating immediately…
20. VOICES – London (Candlelight)
A truly fucked-up concept album that mirrors the underground and back alleys of a fragmented urban dystopian hell-hole, a dark, horrible atmosphere is conveyed through blackened, deathly, atmospheric riffs and a harsh tale is unveiled and delivered in a deliberately contemporary discordant genius.
“The roots of the majority of this unit may have history together in Akercocke (David Gray, Sam Loynes and Peter Benjamin all previous members) but this is still a new band in some sense of infancy, yet with an already formidable reputation and artistic vision. London is a tremendous feat which not only surpasses expectations, but buries them deep underground, an album that sees Voices as not only one of the UK’s but the world’s most forward thinking and captivating extreme acts, and should be seen as a benchmark release. Huge in scope and style, but pulled off with astonishing effect.”
19. CANNIBAL CORPSE – A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade)
Thirteen albums in, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Cannibal Corpse’s Death Metal powers should be on the wane. However, summoning the energy and vitality that bands half their age struggle to muster, an extremely high level of musicianship is utilized to produce powerful, slamming riffs without descending into showboat territory, and once again the Corpse show why they reign in gore.
“Bringing more violent, gory goodness that only Cannibal Corpse can create, what makes this album stick out and not sound like “just another Cannibal Corpse album” is the sheer evil and eerie direction that the instrumentals and lyrics take you. A Skeletal Domain from start to end is a roller coaster of terror, aggression, and more blood than a pit of zombies and has shown the world that Cannibal Corpse is still on top of their death metal game and just how evil these guys can be.”
Formerly known as Code Orange Kids, this sophomore effort is one hell of an aural growing up. The grit of Neurosis and the dervish of Converge mixing elements of drone, post-Metal and post-Hardcore, all captured in crushing sonic perfection by the ubiquitous force du jour Kurt Ballou.
“Overall, Code Orange have proven on this release that they are no longer kids, as I Am King shows the makings of a band not content to just sit in the realms of safety and complacency. But a band ready to expand their sound and not afraid of experimentation to broaden their horizons. At times heavy, trippy and crushing all at the same time, I Am King is what all follow up albums should strive to be”.
Sprinkling more accessible moments such as twin guitar breaks and the occasional cleaner bellow and working intelligent dynamics into their aggressive, technical (without being techy) melodic Death Metal, Boston’s beasts of the underground and unknown have made their mark with another critically acclaimed album that should place them well and truly in the ranks of more modern Death Metal bands who make a difference.
“This four-piece death metal outfit has been dismantling dictators through their onslaught of epic death metal for years now and they continue to get better and better. Revocation’s newest release, Deathless has certainly pushed Dave Davidson and the gang up another notch on the death metal ladder. Ten tracks coming in at around the 48 minute mark will still leave you itching for more, even if all of that shredding has melted your face. Just when I thought this band might have been getting close to their ceiling with the previous self-titled release, Deathless has come around and shot right through this proverbial ceiling and into my ears, and boy does it feel good.”
16. WINTERFYLLETH – The Divination of Antiquity (Candlelight)
The best bands have their own distinctive, defined sound, a series of identifiers that mark who they are while expanding and progressing their style. On their fourth album, Winterfylleth achieve that elusive mix of laying down a career defining opus that intrinsically delivers every aspect of the core Winterfylleth melodic, epic Black Metal sound, while pushing past the boundaries of everything they’ve produced to date.
“Winterfylleth, whose odes to Blighty’s ancient past have struck a chord with those searching for a bit more meaning in their homegrown talent, are a joy to behold. After three albums of high quality “English Heritage Black Metal”, Winterfylleth are sitting pretty and new album The Divination of Antiquity looks set to continue their ever-so glorious reign. In a scene renowned for gimmicks and plagiarism, their brand of sweeping, epic black metal just keeps revealing more with each release.”
Cannibal Corpse’s debut Eaten Back To Life hit the nascent Death Metal scene like a bomb going off, raising the bar for musical and lyrical extremity. Now, with twenty-six years and thirteen albums behind them, they are without argument one of the most influential and consistent bands in Death Metal. Bassist and founding-member Alex Webster spoke to Ghost Cult about the band’s past and future, the current state of their genre and used the words “Death Metal” seven-thousand times…
A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade) sees you breaking a run of three albums with producer Erik Rutan that saw a rejuvenation of your sound and are regarded by many as some of your best work. What inspired this change, and to what extent has it influenced the sound of the new album?
We’re very happy with the three albums Erik Rutan did with us – as far as the change to Mark Lewis, we just wanted to do something a little different, to mix things up. The last guy we’d worked with other than Erik was back in 2003, so we just wanted to try something a little different – we just wanted a change of scenery. Erik and Mark are both great producers, they just have slightly different approaches regarding the studio in regard to getting guitar and drum sounds – their technical approaches were different, but their general attitude was the same, they wanted to make the heaviest record possible. In terms of how it influenced us… we go into the studio with all of the material written apart from maybe some extra guitar harmonies or bass parts, so although the producer helps up to find the sound he has no influence on the artistic direction.
The release of A Skeletal Domain marks an impressive run of thirteen albums, during which you’ve developed your technical skills but not strayed far from the template you laid down on your first three. That consistency has always been one of the band’s strongest selling points, but can it be a disadvantage? At this point, how hard is to keep from recycling your own material?
That can definitely happen. What we try to do is avoid that – it’s a conscious effort. If I write something and it reminds me too much of something from the past I’ll make a conscious effort to change it. One thing that is very helpful in this band is that we have more than one or two songwriters. We have four guys in the band who contribute to the song-writing process – you end up having a lot of different ideas, and good variety from song to song. I think that’s one of our biggest strengths – it’s not a band with one song-writer, and I think this album really puts that on display, our division of song-writing duties. One thing that has always been clear with Cannibal Corpse is that you are technically accomplished musicians who are committed to developing your own playing. Have you ever found the limitations of Death Metal restricting, and have you ever been tempted to follow your technicality beyond those genre restrictions?
We definitely want to stay a full on Death Metal band – that was part of the initial objective of this band, to be the best Death Metal band we could be, and we don’t want to really go beyond the boundaries of DM, but we are looking for things that we haven’t done before. There are certain things that we wouldn’t have done in the past but we will do now. For example, in the earlier part of our band’s career – or more about the middle, I should say, around Gallery Of Suicide – we avoided anything that sounded Thrashy. The gallop-type picking, things like that, and we’ve really stopped avoiding that recently. We’re a Death Metal band, but Thrash is part of our background, you can hear it certainly in our earlier albums – Eaten Back To Life is a very Thrashy album, and there are certain elements of Thrash throughout our earlier stuff, and we just haven’t made any effort to avoid that for the last couple of albums. We thought, why bother – if it’s something that sounds really heavy, why not use it? We felt like there was no reason why a Death Metal band couldn’t have those intricate picking rhythms – it’s a particular sound of Thrash, but if you’ve got guitar players who are good enough to do it, why not do it? We’ve added more of that over the last few albums,and I think it’s added really seamlessly into the overall Death Metal sound that we have. We’re willing to try to add certain outside influences as long as they work well with our sound, and don’t make us sound less Death Metal.
One of the things that often comes out in interviews with Cannibal Corpse is your blue-collar background, and the very down-to-earth attitude that seems to have given you to the job of being in a band. Despite the obvious musical differences, in terms of attitude you seem to be a coming from a similar direction to Iron Maiden. Which bands have been an influence on your attitude and longevity?
That comparison is something that we have thought about specifically… they’re a band that’s done everything pretty much the right way. I’ve always been impressed with Iron Maiden, they’re one of my favourite bands, and the level of consistency that they have and the level of musical professionalism. All of their players are great, they’ve been consistent in their music and imagery throughout their career. I think any Metal band, Death Metal, Thrash or otherwise can look to and be impressed with them. Obviously our music isn’t like Iron Maiden’s, but we definitely look at their career and are inspired by them, I think any Metal band would be, so to be compared to them is a high compliment and we appreciate that. Also, if you look at the other successful Metal bands, they have similar things going down – like Slayer for example, who are another band whose career we find very inspiring. I look to Iron Maiden and Slayer a lot as examples of being consistent, and continuing to work non-stop throughout your career, I find it very impressive.
In the Centuries Of Torment documentary you talk about revisiting old decisions, and speak quite candidly about some of the choices made by the band in your early days. Did looking back at these decisions cause you to regret any of your past choices?
Any time you look back on decisions you made you’re going to second-guess things. You can’t do that too much, of course, because it’s too late to change things you’ve done – you need to always keep moving forward. Doing history DVDs – and we’ve recently worked on a book too – you look at the past a lot, but it’s in my personal nature to keep looking forward. There’s nothing you can really do to change the past and make it turn put differently, and to be honest all the decision we’ve made in the past regarding personnel… I don’t think we made any mistakes that way. The choices we made about asking people to leave the band, I think those were necessary choices that made the band better in the long run, but… you know… what changes is the way you handle it. You’re going to handle decisions differently when you’re forty-four than when you’re twenty-two, but we did the best we could and we’ve never tried to be uncool about things with other band members when we went our separate ways. We always tried to be professional about it, but we’d probably do a better job now that we’re older and more experienced.
The fall-out between yourselves and Chris Barnes was well-documented at the time, but recent interviews with both show a much more relaxed attitude about it.
Yeah, I think that’s a natural thing – everyone’s very upset when it happens, but time heals the whole thing or whatever. We’re in a very good place with Chris right now, and I think he’s in a good place with us. Whenever I bump into him in gigs or in Tampa we always have a good time, and we always hang out and talk, so I’d say everything’s in a good place now.
You are often described as being one of the most influential bassists in Death Metal – a title that you’ve sometimes disputed in interviews. Who would you put on that list?
I would say that, for me, Steve di Giorgio was the guy who inspired me, so I’ve always put him at the top of the list. I learned how to play the way I play by imitating him. Also Roger Patterson from the first Atheist album… there are others who are really great too, Tony Choy, Martin Rygiel who used to be in Decapitated is one of the best bass players out there, Jeff Hughell from Six Feet Under, Erlend Caspersen from Blood Red Throne, Mike Poggione who used to play with Monstrosity, Mike Flores from Origin. I’m not saying that I’m not good at what I do, but I like to mention that there are a lot of other great ones too, and some of them were very big influences on me. I’m proud of what I’ve done, of course, but there are a lot of other great players who deserve recognition.
Another relatively recent development in Death Metal has been the emergence of “Deathcore”, but this has been something of a negative development by many older fans. Is this just empty elitism, in your opinion, or do they have a point?
You know, I actually have no problems with Deathcore at all, I think it’s just another form of Extreme Metal, it’s obviously very close to Death Metal. Some of those features are considered a little too…. I don’t really know! Maybe a little close to something else… for Death Metal purists, but for me they’re similar enough that it’s fine for the two genres to play shows together. I think [the wide variety of sub-genres] just helps validate what a great form of music Death Metal is, that it’s able to have been so strong for decades. Despite its reputation as something of a monolith, Death Metal has undergone a surprising renaissance in the last few years, with bands like Portal, Ulcerate and Pyrrhon leading it in some genuinely fresh new directions. Have you been following any of these bands, and what do you think about the current state of Death Metal as a genre?
There are so many killer bands out there that it’s not always easy to keep up – I kind of need tips on it! I’ve actually not listened to Portal, but I’ve heard a lot about them so should probably just go and buy an album, but there are tonnes of great bands who’ve come out in the past ten years or so, some of them are newer than others. Obviously Psycroptic have been around for a while but there an amazing, super-technical band. Spawn Of Possession I’ve always been really into. Ulcerate from New Zealand. There’s all sorts of great stuff out there right now, and it makes me happy to see all that sort of stuff, really killer technical stuff that moves Death Metal forward. It also makes me happy to see that there are other bands who are keeping it in its original formula and trying to expand by writing better songs. A band like Aeon from Sweden, they’re a technical band but how they develop their Death Metal is through their song-writing. I love hearing the cutting-edge stuff like Ulcerate, but I also love hearing stuff that’s a bit more rooted in the Old School, like Corpus Mortale from Denmark, Hour Of Penance from Italy.
I’m just happy to see that the scene is healthy on all fronts. You’ve got older bands like us and Autopsy who are still going, you’ve got bands coming back like Gorguts and doing a great job, then all these newer bands that are playing lots of different types of Death Metal, and everyone’s doing very well.
Over the years of listening to death metal, I have yet to be let down by any release by Cannibal Corpse. Arguably the biggest death metal band today, and after twelve previous releases, I wondered how much longer until a lackluster album would be released. Well, I have bad news. The streak continues! The thirteenth release from these titans, A Skeletal Domain (Metal Blade), has brought more violent, gory goodness that only Cannibal Corpse can create. However, what made this album stick out and not sound like “just another Cannibal Corpse album” was the sheer evil and eerie direction that the instrumentals and lyrics take you. ASkeletal Domain from start to end is a roller coaster of terror, aggression, and more blood than a pit of zombies.
It has been tough to mark down which songs have been my favorite as every song has its own feel and personality to it. I will mention a few, but keep in mind that I enjoy the rest of the tracks on record. It might be that I love (and laugh) at these song titles as well. The first single released, ‘Sadistic Embodiment’, really sets the course for the album. This track showcases what Cannibal Corpse is all about and then some. ‘Funeral Cremation’ was another stand out track for me with easily the creepiest opening to any song of theirs to date by ever so slightly dipping into the world of Blackened Death Metal. The guitar riff has given me goosebumps with every listen which is a rarity nowadays in a quite monotonous heavy metal world. The very next track may be my favorite off the album and certainly one of the best titles, ‘Icepick Lobotomy’. This song brings the brutality one would expect from death metal, but also stays groovy enough to keep your head banging. One last track I’d like to recommend is ‘Bloodstained Cement.’ This track starts off on a speed kick that is guaranteed to help your inner lead foot press the gas pedal just a tad harder. Then the song takes a heavy turn and actually makes you believe you are smashing some poor souls face off of the sidewalk.
A Skeletal Domain has shown the world that Cannibal Corpse is still on top of their death metal game and just how evil these guys can be. This album will certainly be in my considerations for album of the year in about three months from now. Despite all of the praise I have given this newest release, it didn’t make me say “Wow!” out loud as often as, say, Kill did. Having said that, I love the direction this album went and am happy to know that even after thirteen albums, these death metal gods are still capable of spreading their violent blend of metal. Cannibal Corpse has once again proven to me why I do not waste my time listening to Six Feet Under.