MARCH 4th 2016

Review by Lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

Let me graciously invite you on a yet another journey through metal mayhem that happened March 4 at the Commodore. A deathly hardcore lineup was ready to ear-flog the masses and completely delivered this night.

Abysmal Dawn kicked things off with a pretty standard death metal set. As I was a ‘Dawn virgin I quickly realized that these guys are an established band with a loyal following and based on the crowd’s reaction: they did their thing as they were expected to do it. Frontman and guitarist Charles Elliott, guitarist Andy Nelson, bassist Eliseo Garcia and drummer Jim Coppafeelo (best last name EVER!) make it their business to stay true to the roots of death metal by combining precision and technicality to raging satanic vocals.  They have not been caught up in the nu-death metal wave and have all signs pointing to them keeping on keeping on.  If you’re a fan of Suffocation, Decapitation, and the likes, these guys will satiate that tickle for some severe riffs and growly goodness.

If any of you have read previous reviews, you’ll know that I have seen Cryptopsy before and after having given my initial impression in the Gwar review of October 2015, you’ll be happy to know that their performance is consistent and in-your-face. The four-piece out of Montreal goes a little more technical than death metal but still keeps the gutteral growling vocals with intermittent screams. Special mention has to be made to drummer Flo Mounier who is like a rapist: desperately trying to keep all of the limbs of his band from flailing too much so he can be sure they slip it to the crowd just right.  And they did.

My metal cherry was again popped this fine night with my first live absorption of Obituary (good thing I have an endless cherry grove). Trever Peres (guitar), Ken Andrews (guitar), Terry Butler (bass) and Donald Tardy (drums) got going without lead vocalist John Tardy and played an epic 8-ish minute fully instrumental intro. They then got Tardy out and launched into what can be termed nothing less than a call to arms; an anthem for the metalheads of old.  You couldn’t deny the taste of Slayer and Megadeth in the back of your throat as the Sabbath-y fuzz of doom settled into the very depths of your eardrums. The great thing about Obituary is that they’ve been around long enough (over 20 years) and have played together long enough that their performance is organic.  It just is: they don’t have to fight with each other to be heard, there’s no competition, only compliment in everything they do and how they come together to make amazing music.

As mentally unstable and emotionally fractured as the propaganda may portray them, Obituary are like a bunch of razorblade-armed teddy bears with their instruments as weapons. Peres and Andrews shred through the meticulous fingering they’ve come to be known for while Butler and Tardy spew the foundation rhythm with impeccable timing. This is what separates the boys from the men in this industry: exactly what Obituary does and how they do it. Tardy delivers with every scream, every grunt and every word.  The set, while mostly a good collection from their extensive catalogue, did include the title track from their most recent album, “Inked In Blood”. If you haven’t heard it you haven’t yet earned the privilege to call yourself a metalhead. With many thanks and applause from Obituary for the crowd, and vice versa, everyone then drank up while waiting for Cannibal Corpse to round out the night.

Before long we were all sucker-punched with “Evisceration Plague” and without a word, Cannibal Corpse laid out 4 or 5 tracks and then took a moment to breathe.  I was a little disappointed with the opener: was kind of looking for something harder-hitting to get everyone amped back up. Especially because I myself was zoned on painkillers after a tonsillectomy and needed that Chuck Norris roundhouse to get me back in the game after a 20 minute band break. By the end of their set the boys plowed through a song from almost every one of their albums, placating every sector of fan there could possibly be in the crowd.  George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (vocals), Pat O’Brien (guitar), Rob Barrett (guitar), Alex Webster (bass) and Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums) have made Cannibal Corpse one of the most recognized death metal bands in the world, with unrelenting vocals, ruthless guitaring, assaulting bass lines and fierce drumming. 

I have seen Cannibal Corpse before and that was why I wanted to see them again: their show, their love of the stage, and their fucking music! But no matter how humble and chatty Fisher was with the crowd, I couldn’t get past the actual performance. Maybe I’m asking too much here and maybe you’ll call me out as a ‘diet’ or ‘light’ metal lover, but as unparalleled as they are, I literally pictured ZZ Top in Cannibal Corpse meatsuits the way O’Brien, Barrett and Webster lined themselves up and bobbed with their playing (hopefully you get the visual): but not in a good way.  Thank you Fisher, who didn’t stop the hair the whole time and proudly proclaimed that people with his neck don’t sing anything but metal (rightly so), cause you kept me awake.

I hate to play favourites but Obituary carried the night for me and I was so sublimely happy to have had them out.  Blame me, blame the painkillers, or take me at my word but I have seen better from the ‘Corpse