Last Thursday I saw Cannibal Corpse at the White Oak Music Hall, and it wasn’t pretty. They were loud, abrasive, said cuss words, and basically simulated that feeling you get when you stick your head in the blender (while it’s on). In short, the perfect death metal concert.
First, I gotta be upfront about something. I love me some death metal as much as any person, but I hardly know any songs or albums. Bands and seminal releases are no problem. However, in every other respect I become one of those people. The type who never remember the names of artists they follow, or forget the songs they stuck on a Spotify playlist, or even the ones who fail at listing Genesis’ comprehensive discography during its time with Peter Gabriel, including the 1998 box set release of Genesis Archive 1968-1975, which featured some new overdubs from Gabriel himself. I become my biggest disappointment. In short, I choose my death metal like I choose my wine or beer: look for something bearing a kickass or funny label and expect it to pay for itself. Crude yes, but it’s an approach that always delivers.
I definitely can’t tell you want songs I heard at this Cannibal Corpse concert. They probably played classics like “Hammer Smashed Face” and “I Cum Blood,” and most definitely stuff from their recent release, Red Before Black. (David Foster Wallace-esque side note: if you haven’t listened to Red Before Black, check it out cause it’s one brutal album. It’s like Slayer x Slayer x death and taxes. Brutal. Pat O’Brien’s guitar solos will end you on tracks like “Red Before Black,” “Hideous Ichor,” and “Destroyed Without a Trace.” George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher still belts it out like someone who physically shouldn’t be capable of employing the death growl without being related to Scooby-Doo. Not to mention, Fisher’s an admitted Broncos fan, who are definitely in the top five of “other teams I hate the least in the NFL.” If you’re still not convinced, listen to the first thirty seconds of “Code of Slashers” and “Remaimed,” then think about how wrong you were to doubt Cannibal Corpse in the first place. Honestly, that intro’s gotta be some of the best rhythmic work and use of distortion I’ve heard in a long time. Lastly, beware of those seamless tempo changes throughout the album, they’ll break your ear ankles.)
Anyways back to the concert. It was badass. This was my second time seeing the death metal pioneers and at no point did I get the feeling that they half-assed anything. Only problem is, I couldn’t take any good pictures. For one, I suck at taking pictures and for two, I got to the show too late to snap some up close and personal shots. But rather than cheat you guys out of the experience, suspend your disbelief and indulge in my illustrated facsimile. Though not evident in the picture, there was a dedicated turn out from the metalhead community. Smaller than I imagined, but that’s Thursday night for you. Besides, the space itself was perfect for the crowd size. On the floor, you had the usual group of suspects showing up for their boys. The leather, the jeans, the tattoos and bald heads. A pretty sweet t-shirt with Milhouse on it! Copious amounts of aggression released and reaffirmed amongst the moshing. A dude who head-banged so hard, I could see the cartilage threatening to jettison from his spinal column. Plenty of people in my age bracket too, which is always an encouraging sight. Metal may not be filling the Toyota Center anytime soon, but it’s a genre that decidedly transcends generations.
Not surprisingly, Cannibal Corpse brought it to the White Oak Music Hall. If you want to hear how anger can embody the greatest parts about being alive and witness what ride-or-die fans look like in this day and age, go see this band. Or if you just wanna get hammered and smash some faces, that’s completely cool too. They’re still playing a bunch of shows across the country before invading Europe in the late winter.