photos by Greg Cristman

Cannibal Corpse / Obituary
Cannibal Corpse
Obituary

The Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Cryptopsy and Abysmal Dawn tour roared into NYC's Irving Plaza on Tuesday, February 16 and boy are my ears tired. Unfortunately, I entered the venue just as second opener, Cryptopsy, were about to start so I missed the first act, Abysmal Dawn. How were they? It's worth noting that the show officially sold out a few hours before doors opened and I think that took a lot of people by surprise. Not only were there more people outside the venue looking for tickets than I have ever seen, but I have also never seen a venue as packed for the second band of a four band showcase as it was Tuesday night for Cryptopsy. Even more staggering as it was a Tuesday night.

Although Montreal's Cryptopsy have been around since 1992, I had never heard them before last night. In 1990/1991, when I started getting into death metal in earnest, the biggest complaint my square parents would hassle me with was that death metal vocals sounded like nothing more than unintelligible screaming. This sort of reductive old-person claptrap used to drive me nuts back in the day because to the trained ear death metal vocals are perfectly articulate. Last night, however, I found myself echoing my parents sentiments regarding death metal vocals with Cryptopsy's performance. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just that, for the first time, I couldn't make heads nor tails of what the hell I was hearing. Cryptopsy unleashed a brutal yet technically nuanced set where the sounds coming out of (intimidating) vocalist Matt McGachy's mouth came across as a fourth instrument as opposed to "vocals." There was a lot of screaming, growling, and, if I am not mistaken, the occasional fart noise thrown in for good measure. Their 30-minute-ish breakneck set had the packed room going absolutely bonkers with circle pits, regular pits, and crowd surfing.

Following a brief intermission, Florida death metal super-legends Obituary took the stage for what would be the highlight of my evening. Obituary's 1990 release Cause of Death was an epiphany for me as a budding metal head in 1991. It was, and still is, the most perfect death metal album of all time. Obituary forgoes heavy guitar effects, triggered drums, blast beats, super de-tuned guitars, and other musical garnish and delivers the rawest, heaviest, death metal sound in the biz. Last night they were as true to form as they were when I first saw them in the early '90s. Although they omitted their mega classic "Chopped in Half", their short-but-sweet set did include other classics like "Redneck Stomp", "Dying", "Find the Arise", "Don't Care", "Slowly We Rot", and more. How vocalist John Tardy has managed to maintain the same ear splitting vocal abilities since the mid '80s blows my mind. It's time for an Obituary headlining tour, ASAP.

Obituary

Following Obituary's incendiary set, headliners Cannibal Corpse took the stage for what would be about 90 minutes of classic death metal brutality and boy was it epic. Cannibal Corpse, who have been around since 1988, are one of the most commercially successful bands in the death metal genre. A lot of it I think has to do with the fact that, like Obituary, they don't really rely on effects or drum triggers. They are just a raw, brutal, death metal band with real, unprocessed blast beats. It also has a lot to do with the gory imagery they have cultivated over the years through profoundly graphic artwork and truly disgusting song titles and lyrics. It also has to do with their iconic frontman, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. He has the body of Leatherface, the neck of a tree trunk, and the stoic presence and vocal stylings of your worst nightmare. Their 17-song set was a great cross-section of a very large body of work and included new and old classics like "Hammer Smashed Face", "Icepick Lobotomy", "Stripped Raped and Strangled", "Kill or Become", "The Time to Kill is Now", " I Cum Blood", "Born in a Casket", and more. To say the crowd was going nuts is an understatement. People were climbing over each other, pummeling each other, and really making the front of house security work their asses off to contain the crowd. I don't think I have seen a New York crowd this active and intense. It ruled.

More pictures (but unfortunately none of Abysmal Dawn, who we missed) below...

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Cryptopsy

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