You better be a little scared. Beyond that, be ready. But ultimately, be a part.
This lineup has been in the works for years. It has finally come to fruition in 2016, and a bulldozer of a package it is. Tuesday night in Milwaukee, at the old-school monolithic Turner Hall, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary rampaged in their own unique styles, after a rousing performance by Canadian Death Metalers Cryptopsy and a proper rattling of the bones by Abysmal Dawn.
Walking the dark stained wood floors that would be put to the test throughout the night, an hour before Abysmal Dawn kicked off a rowdy heavy metal event worth far more than the asking price ($25.00), I soaked in an atmosphere described later in an on-site interview with Trevor from Obituary as European in feel and perfect for the onslaught to come. A long line of well-stocked merch tables adorned the back, one of two bars 20 feet behind the sound system, the air and energy started to build as fans filed in.
Seconds before lining up behind his drum-kit I watched James Coppolino go through his paces, alerting the sound man of the exact minute the intro needed to ensue. Like clockwork, but with light feet Abysmal Dawn kicked into a short set that found its legs and reached crescendo with Human Obsolescence. More than fit to jump start the party, the LA death squad truly rose into a force with In The Service of Time (Leveling The Plane of Existence) , a slice from a 30 minute beating that proved successful, providing them a chance to display their wares and for the crowd to build strength is would need.
Heading in, my interest in Cryptopsy had grown with their stellar new EP, The Book Of Suffering. From the first beat to the last guttural scream it was evident how much the level of intensity had been dialed up. Shaking the foundation with tracks like Crown of Horns and Slit Your Guts, the only thing even close to as menacing is lead singer Matt McGachy pointing his finger at you and demanding action, that digit an extension from biceps the size of the riffage spilling from guitarist Chris Donaldson tattooed bald dome and frame. Picture the physical manifestation of death metal, what it looks like in the mind. That vision, constructed on power, born of evil, were brutally represented through Cryptopsy and Cannibal Corpse. Worthy of singling out were the intermittent bass rattles from Olivier Pinard throughout the night, providing head-shaking moments of delight, sick as hell.
While the opposite of a risk, Obituary definitely draws a sharp distinction from the rest of the bill. Groove metal virtuosity to the max, the Florida maniacs planted themselves on stage and blasted with Redneck Stomp, the crowd pleased and want of more after the precision instrumental scalpel carved. It was only one of three occasions where John Tardy stood to the side and enjoyed his band’s mastery, which brought to an unforeseen observation. If John Tardy be the insanely talented head of Obituary, then brother Donald on drums, Trevor Peres and Kenny Andrews on guitar, and Terry Butler on bass are the body proper, that bloody torso smack dab on the cover of Inked In Blood. Obituary is legendary, and it’s a living breathing metal organism not to be fucked with.
Fittingly, the boys took a brief pause before launching into Inoxication, and introduced the crowd to their very own beer. Yes, Hopped in Half, a 3 Floyds Brewery special, was in the house for the first time ever, and for a mere 12 dollars many of us savored a 22 oz craft delight created just for Obituary. That fun break concluded, Tardy skulked the stage, his angular frame bent often to the side, long blondish hair to his knee, the veteran didn’t miss a note, taking timing cues from brother, aware of all the scene in front of him.
Musically speaking, the drumming from D.Tardy was beyond exceptional, more than blast beat and speed, furious and complete. And it was that, the marksmanship of Obituary, that captured onlookers. That, and John Tardy’s ability to arrest the spotlight with his vocals, like on the well-received I Don’t Care and the concluding Slowly We Rot. So versatile, Obituary explodes with power and groove, splashes in some vicious death blows, and still fuses a feel of doom at times. Simply outrageous.
Not to be outdone, but some major work ahead of them, Cannibal Corpse did what they always do- deliver. Loud, blunt, and excessively violent both lyrically and musically, the circle pit expanded to new widths and the bruises mounted with Evisceration Plague and The Time To Kill Is Now. All business, focused on their craft, it was remarkable to see how many loyalists sang/screamed along to Born In A Casket and even newer songs like Icepick Lobotomy, a personal favorite when packaged with Sadistic Embodiment and Kill or Become, forming an unholy trinity of tracks from the latest album, A Skeletal Domain. Seriously, how warped is it when hundreds of heavy metal barbarians join in and scream, “Laying out the tools of his trade, psychosurgery. Scalpel, ice-pick and drill?”
Knowing the level of debauchery in store, it was no shock how berserk the pit became with I Cum Blood, for which I’ll spare the weak (or non-psychotic) the lyrics to. Nonetheless, that slaying was spot on, ridiculously fast, tight and brutal. But the bass-line, drum pounding, guitar shredding, and demonic gutturals for Hammer Smashed Face could not be topped or even equaled. Admitting to a little fright, it was neat to see a smattering of faces from all ages, assuring the blood-line of heavy metal done death style continues.
Feeling like a thief in the night, I limped away with a signed copy of Cryptopsy’s self-titled album (after taking a pic and chatting with the Quebec crushers), a gruesome black Obituary Bloodsoaked in America shirt and a signed Inked in Blood monster poster, and a slight headache that is small payment for a tour unlike any I’ve ever witnessed. Check out the remaining dates and tell your story.
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