10/14/06 - Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Necrophagist, Unmerciful @ Le Medley, Montreal, QC
That Cannibal Corpseâ€™s [www.cannibalcorpse.net] recent tenth studio album, Kill, has brought the Floridian trendsetters of gore more praise than the equally proficient albums that preceded it, the band really are one of the most consistent death metal bands still running. And by the sound of the noise emanating from both the stage and thousand-strong audience, the love affair is very far from being over. As they have done on the international circuit since day one of becoming a headliner, Cannibal Corpse handpicked the three openers, each appropriately from a different age bracket, and, offering a unique take on the increasingly diverse sub-genre. The most unrelenting and dizzying band of the night, Unmerciful [www.unmerciful.us], sprayed the audience with typical Unique Leader Records brutal death accentuated with subtle technicality. Their debut album, Unmercifully Beaten, having just been released the band performed without exception the majority of it, including Masochistic Rampage, Mass Execution, Shotgun Sodomy, and a precise cover of Suffocationâ€™s Catatonia. Relevant history predates Unmercifulâ€™s inception, as drummer James King laid down a percussive torpedo on Originâ€™s last album Echoes of Decimation, and guitarist Jeremy Turner helped not only to found that same band, he also toured with Cannibal Corpse following longtime shredder Jack Owenâ€™s departure last year, before being replaced by ex-Malevolent Creation legend, Rob Barrett. King and Turner turn in a more straight-ahead performance with Unmerciful, and they delivered the goods without error. With the majority of the audience older than the at the average BCI metal show, it seemed as though the bandâ€™s more-brutal-than-thou approach was too much for some to handle, but this is the new wave of death metal, and while there may not have been a moshable groove in sight during their set, they were accorded respect for their endurance. Possibly the most hyped death metal band of the past year (besides Behemoth) has been Necrophagist [www.necrophagist.de], the German old/new-school brainchild of Muhammed Suicmez, whose multi-faceted songwriting and performing abilities rival those of Deathâ€™s Chuck Schuldiner. And ironically, due to more welcoming conditions for extreme metal, Suicmezâ€™s work is ascending the ranks of popularity in the death metal scene much quicker than Deathâ€™s. Selling records at an impressive rate since the 2004 release of their Relapse debut Epitaph and the re-recorded reissue of their stunning debut The Onset of Putrefaction on Willowtip, Necrophagist are now showing North America what the excitement is all about. True to rumor, the band performed a flawless set, making little to zero errors in executing the majority of Epitaph. As the pit swelled to maximum density, the band broke into Stabwound, sending the new generation of death metal youth into convulsions that were (at least) partially pot induced, by the smell of things. Suicmezâ€™s dazzling fretwork was put on show during renditions of The Stillborn One, Ignominious & Pale, Epitaph, and Only Ash Remains. More of Necrophagistâ€™s up-tempo material from both albums, especially the debut, would have been icing on the cake. But judging by the fervent welcome for the bandâ€™s first show ever in Canada, they will surely have many more opportunities to do so. One death metal band that has lost some steam in recent years is Maryland giants Dying Fetus [www.dyingfetus.com], who objectively have not since recovered from the simultaneous loss of Jason Netherton, Sparky Voyles, and Kevin Talley following the touring cycle for the bandâ€™s finest moment, Destroy The Opposition. Sure, their last album Stop At Nothing proved effective in mosh pits around the world, but the songwriting had begun to imitate its earlier self, and the bandâ€™s politics took an extreme shift to the right following Nethertonâ€™s [www.demockery.org] departure. As all are well aware, the three aforementioned core members departed to form rising death grind touring machine Misery Index. Dying Fetus direct support is surely based on past rather than recent success, because they used to have much more going for them reputation-wise. Nevertheless, John Gallagher has his band, and new (ex-Divine Empire) drummer Duane Timlin, trained to replicate all eras of the bandâ€™s back catalog with relative ease. Destroy The Opposition was visited often with Pissing In The Mainstream, Praise The Lord (Opium of The Masses), Born In Sodom, and Epidemic of Hate, with rare earlier moments like Killing On Adrenaline the highlights of their familiar set. In addition to airing the majority of Stop At Nothing, Dying Fetus previewed a new song to be included on their upcoming album, sounding in line with the bandâ€™s more recent and less technical offerings. While the bandâ€™s current shortcomings, including variable percussive energy and occasionally breaks in cohesion, were indications of their age and more significantly lineup issues, the set was entertaining and reliable enough to have validated their inclusion on the tour. Awaiting Cannibal Corpseâ€™s first Montreal show in a few years was the largest death metal audience in recent memory. Sufficiently exceeding the thousand mark, with a sizeable fraction lighting up grass cigarettes at the onset of the bandâ€™s set, the already-inebriated mass transformed into a mosh pit cyclone that subsided only an hour later, in conjunction with their depleted highs. Cannibal Corpseâ€™s recent album was cited often, with faster numbers including The Time To Kill Is Now, Make Them Suffer, Five Nails Through The Neck, and Brain Removal Device, sending the young ones into a frenzied state. The plodding Death Walking Terror allowed the band to catch their breath, before resuming the journey through radical tempos and explicit imagery. Early favorites Born In A Casket, Under The Rotted Flesh, I Cum Blood, and Hammer Smashed Face received the most deafening responses, while mid-career classics Staring Through The Eyes of The Dead, Fucked With A Knife, and Devoured By Vermin more than satisfied the throngs of headbangers. The bandâ€™s critically praised but somewhat undervalued Neil Kernon-produced albums Gore Obsessed and The Wretched Spawn provided ample material for the ruthless set. The musical equivalent of goriest horror movie youâ€™ve ever seen, Cannibal Corpse delivered on all fronts, breaking every rule in the book of wholesome entertainment short of translating it into real life.