In many ways¸ Cannibal Corpse is the death metal edition of Slayer – they’ve been around for over 20 years¸ have released numerous albums of consistently high quality¸ and you know exactly what you’re going to see and hear at every single one of their shows. No exceptions. Even so¸ you can’t help but get that feeling of heightened¸ almost child-like excitement fluttering in the pit of your stomach every time they roll into town. Tonight is no different. On the verge of releasing their twelfth studio album Torture¸ the Corpse are back in London¸ leading the rampage that is Metal Hammer’s Destroyers of the Faith tour. As Tom G. Warrior’s Triptykon vacate the stage tonight after a well-received set to make way for Alex Webster and co.¸ and the classic Cannibal Corpse logo is hoisted up in front of the assembled masses tonight¸ the anticipation in the Forum tonight is electric to the point of being almost uncomfortable. As the house lights dim and an illuminated Corpsegrinder stands with arms aloft in the middle of the stage¸ the venue erupts into a deafening mix of cheers¸ growls and chants.
The first notes of Evisceration Plague escape from the P.A.¸ and just as the crowd tonight embrace the knowledge that they’re about to have their ears and faces pummelled for the next 75 minutes¸ the band tear into the mid-paced juggernaut¸ before unleashing the fury with The Time To Kill Is Now. Disfigured follows¸ before the Corpse dish out a double-helping of new material from Torture in the form of Demented Aggression and Scourge of Iron. The two go down a storm¸ and there’s not a head in the crowd that isn’t moving as the pit opens up into a sea of swirling hair¸ flailing bodies and a small tsunami of alcohol.
The songs come thick and fast tonight¸ with the only real pause in the proceedings being the classic Corpsegrinder goading windmill challenge before a devastating rendition of I Cum Blood. The sound tonight is distinctly average¸ occasionally swaying towards poor¸ but judging by the energetic thrashing about by those on (and off) stage it doesn’t seem to be a problem. More concerning tonight¸ though¸ is the somewhat questionable performance from Paul Mazurkiewicz. In the age of death metal drumming royality¸ such as Kollias¸ Roddy¸ Grossmann and Yeung¸ sluggish performances such as this do tend to stick out. The tempo frequently wavered alot during the tail end of fast sections¸ and all too often the blasts would begin to fall apart almost as soon as they had began. Yes¸ Cannibal Corpse are old-school¸ and when they were starting out there wasn’t the sometimes overly heartless and cold technical analysis that there is nowadays. But the occasional sloppy¸ noise-chaos¸ Kerry King-esque solo from Rob Barrett or Pat O’Brien goes pretty much unnoticed tonight as it’s well in keeping with the style and nature of the music. However¸ fast and brutal death metal does demand tight and precise rhythm sections to hold it all together¸ and whilst Alex Webster is (as usual) more than carrying his own weight tonight¸ you can’t help get the feeling that Paul was letting the side down a bit. That said though¸ there is the argument that a band in the studio and a band on the road are two entirely separate entities¸ in that a band’s recorded works should be a presentation and display of their compositions¸ and should therefore be performed accurately and precisely. However¸ the live environment is for them to perform with passion¸ intensity and emotion – ‘in the moment¸ if you will. Whilst Mr. Mazurkiewicz’s playing tonight was definitely a topic of discussion amongst many fans on their way home tonight¸ it ultimately failed to detract from the sheer power and force of Cannibal’s songs.
Fucked with a Knife¸ Covered in Sores and Born in a Casket are all stupidly heavy¸ and by the time we reach Priests of Sodom¸ there are no doubts that Cannibal Corpse are still as relevant and powerful on the live circuit as any of the new breed of death metal outfits around today. Unleashing the Bloodthirsty is utterly terrifying¸ as is Make Them Suffer¸ before Hammer Smashed Face does indeed perform a comprehensive demolition of the faces of all those in the building tonight. The brutality comes to a close tonight with Stripped¸ Raped and Strangled¸ as the punters tonight join together for the death metal sing-along – something you’ll be hard-pushed to witness anywhere else¸ and is a true testament to the strength of Cannibal’s catalogue.
As the band leaves the stage triumphantly¸ and a sea of broken bodies heads towards the exits¸ murmurs and mumblings of “must…buy… Torture” can be heard left¸ right and centre. Cannibal Corpse is some respects are your meat and potatoes death metal¸ but you won’t find higher quality meat or potatoes anywhere else on the market. Tonight¸ Cannibal Corpse truly demonstrated why they are still the undisputed Grandmasters of death metal. Long live the Corpse.