Posted by: Necci – Apr 18, 2012
I remember bringing home my first Cannibal Corpse record. It was the first time my parents were ever seriously worried about my sanity, and they are fairly open minded, non-religious folks. It’s pretty funny to look back on it, but now I can see where they were coming from. Still, there’s something to be said for a band that releases an album in the 1990s which sells so steadily throughout the years that it actually reaches platinum status over a decade later. Banned in several countries, featuring utterly grotesque album art and song titles that are offensive as hell, even in 2012. Ladies and germs: Cannibal Corpse. A lot has been said about them, and I don’t need to repeat it. While they aren’t really the type of band that will play to a packed house in Richmond anymore, they should still command all the respect in the world. I reviewed 2004’s The Wretched Spawn for a friend’s metal website. I wish I could find it because it’s probably horrible. The review! Not the album. But I loved it (the album, not the review), and I even love the new one, Torture.
You know, a lot of folks, especially metal’s elder statesmen, will talk shit on Cannibal Corpse--won’t give them the time of day. Have they become some sort of metal sell-out kings? Quite the opposite. The only things that have changed, aside from lower tuned guitars throughout the years, are the addition of one bald guitarist in Pat O’Brien, and the departure of dreadlocked original vocalist Chris Barnes. The fact is, they’ve kept it pretty fucking real over the 20+ years. No early 2000s-style melodic breakdowns, no partially-clean vocals infiltrating from the European scene--none of that shit. Show them some goddamn respect, because I’m sure your shitty little local 5 piece wouldn’t exist without the riff from “Hammer Smashed Face,” which has been ingrained into ALL our brains for the rest of our lives.
Anyways. Abysmal Dawn were pretty great. Most would describe them as American death metal, but there’s a lot more melody going on in there. Not the kind of crappy happy melody you heard in the Boston scene around ten years ago, but more like Death or Bloodbath kind of stuff. Really psychotic and horrific. Lots of guitar work going on, and good energy. And thank god for triggered kick drums. Cheating or not, they sound way better cutting through three stacks of guitars and bass.
Exhumed probably stole the show. You could tell the Exhumed dudes were stoked to play for us. I had never really associated metal with the smell of gasoline, but that’s the kind of psycho thriller vibe these guys bring to the stage. Lots of dive-bar guitar work, short grinding songs, thrashy riffs--psychotic surgeons running around the stage with severed heads and chainsaws. They cover all the bases of what could make a Richmond metalhead happy. Zombies, dude. Zombies.
But yeah, seeing Cannibal Corpse is EXACTLY like that scene from Ace Ventura. It’s almost comical, but so fucking heavy. It’s not one of those hardcore kung-fu kid, wall-of-death kind of tough guy shows. It’s bros hangin’ out, drinking beer and banging their heads off trying to keep up with current vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. The band steamrolled through 19 songs spanning their entire catalog. Old stuff like “I Cum Blood” and “Covered with Sores,” and some of the better bangers from the new album like “Crucifier Avenged,” “As Deep as the Knife Will Go,” and “Encased in Concrete.” And of course, a Corpse show can’t end without “Hammer Smashed Face,” which was enough to make me smile with my fist in the air.
Cannibal Corpse rely on the energy put out by their music to get the crowd going, but that usually isn’t enough. Not these days. Still, you’ve got to give it to them. I don’t know how you define success, but being considered the best selling death metal band of all time, selling over a million albums (for this style of music that’s a fucking major accomplishment), and no doubt making a steady living for over 20 years is impressive. All of this without compromising their sound or losing their audience. No MTV bullshit, no radio singles. Their biggest claim to fame is Ace Ventura, but that movie came out 18 years ago. I don’t fuckin’ blame them for not being super stoked on playing a handful of the same songs they've been playing for a decade or two. George especially seemed kind of fed up with everything, but never really let his mood get the best of him. We’re lucky they’re still around.
As always you can find more pictures at hardrockrva.blogspot.com. Ali G. style respect to the photographer who stayed in the pit to snap photos. It’s like getting stuck in garbage compactor 3263827 (Star Wars, you nincompoops).
By Grant Fanning