Carcass / Crowbar
The Underground Arts
August 3, 2016
Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf
What makes a great metal tour? How about pairing up two underground legends and unleashing them on North America? Three years removed from their comeback album SURGICAL STEEL, Carcass is still going strong, having opened for Slayer on a US tour earlier this year. The band really shined on that tour, leaving people hungry for MORE CARCASS each night after their mind blowing set! Crowbar has been touring steadily the last few years since Kirk left Down and their last album was 2014’s SYMMETRY IN BLACK. They always kick ass live! Tonight the tour is hitting The Underground Arts in Philly and you can feel the energy in the air. We’re gonna feel this one tomorrow! BRING IT!
The Underground Arts is aptly named, it is the basement of an old office building at 12th and Callowhill in downtown Philadelphia. From the outside, you’d never know the fucking place is a concert venue. I dig it, it is a good place for a metal show. You go down a few flights of stairs and things get darker and dingier! There are two rooms with stages and bars, tonight we had the bigger room that holds about 300 people. Sound quality is good and LOUD, lots of ear ringing later. There are no seats in the bigger room, stage is small and curved and only about 3 feet off the ground. No photo pit which would contribute to our lack of pictures later. Stage lighting is so-so, but what do you expect with a name like Underground Arts? Attendance is good tonight, not quite a sell-out but close. Got a bit hot in the venue tonight but the outside weather was mild, so I think that helped.
Opening band was Night Demon from Ventura, CA. They came out to the battle music from the film CONAN THE BARBARIAN (!) and proceeded to hit us with a NWOBHM style like a mix of Motorhead and Maiden. Vocals were clean and old school. We got a cool cover of Golden Earing’s “Radar Love” and I was impressed with the band’s energy.
Up next was Ghoul, a band I don’t really get. Fake black blood, dudes wearing burlap sacks like Jason in FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2, silliness about Creepsylvania, bizarre costumes, it was like a heavier version of GWAR. Pit was intense though. There was even a mini wall of death!
Kirk and co. took the stage about 9:15 and dumped a payload of sludge on us! Heavy, pounding, thick, and engulfing. Kirk cranked out riffs you could feel in your chest and delivered tortured vocals with a lot of emotion. He’s an intense dude and his lyrics are as deep as the music itself. Original Crowbar bassist Todd Strange is back with the band and his imprint on things can be felt, I saw Crowbar 2 years ago without him and it wasn’t as powerful. Drums are key in Crowbar and Tommy Buckley (also of Soilent Green) just has a great feel. Most of his drumming is slow to mid paced but don’t let that mislead you, his style is intense and it holds everything together. Guitarist Matthew Brunson contributed to the heaviness as well and the whole band was very tight and together.
Crowbar’s 45 min set was the highlight of the night for me. We got old favorites “High Rate Extinction” (WEAK MAN WEAK MIND!) and Headbanger’s Ball staple “All I Had I Gave” from the ’93 self titled album. Other crushers included “Planets Collide”, “New Dawn” and “Like Broken Glass”. Good varied set spanning their catalog, Crowbar is always reliable for a killer performance! Towards the end of their set a Crowbar chant started and Kirk bathed in it a bit, appreciating the adulation of the crowd. Catch these guys live if you haven’t already!
- High Rate Extinction
- To Build a Mountain
- The Cemetery Angels
- Walk With Knowledge Wisely
- New Dawn
- All I Had (I Gave)
- Planets Collide
- Like Broken Glass
Liverpool’s heaviest took the stage about 10:15 amid cheers and screams as the instrumental “1985” played over the loudspeakers. Jeff Walker took the stage last, charging in with his bass just in time to start growling! The dive into “Unfit For Human Consumption” was intense as the band shredded and ground us up like fucking hamburger. Crowd response was immediately rabid and wild with moshing, no circle pit just complete chaos, asses flying. I tried to shield my wife while she took pictures but it was losing battle and after a song or two she wanted out of the mayhem. Without taking a breath, Carcass immediately moved on to “Buried Dreams” and the beloved “Incarnated Solvent Abuse”. Things were off to an explosive start.
Unfortunately, Carcass never found their footing musically tonight. For most of the set I couldn’t hear Bill Steer’s amazing intricate guitar work, it was drowned out by more of a wall of noise approach. Actually it was a little like throwback Carcass! Jeff’s vocals were off tonight, his voice was screechy and his usual conviction wasn’t there. Maybe he was under the weather or these guys are just worn out from touring so much. I’ve seen Carcass 4 times now over the last 3 years, and tonight wasn’t on the same level as the other shows.
Set at this point has gotten too familiar as it really hasn’t changed much since the 2014 Decibel Magazine tour. Highlights included sick versions of SYMPHONIES OF SICKNESS material – “Reek of Putrefaction” (TISSUE GASES LEAK, A WARM UNPLEASANT REEK!) and “Exhume to Consume” (BEREAVED RELATIVES ARE NOT AMUSED AS ON THEIR DEAR DEPARTED I FEVERISHLY CONSUME!), Bill still sings on these and I love that. “Corporal Jigsore Quandry” was good, later in the set things got a bit clearer. Closer “Heartwork” was impressive, but I wish we’d get all of “Ruptured in Purulence” for a change. Pit was pretty savage throughout the set. I really would like to get “Inpropagation” or “Excoriating Abdominal Emanation” live sometime, either of those would be life altering for me.
- Unfit for Human Consumption
- Buried Dreams
- Incarnated Solvent Abuse
- Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
- The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
- Captive Bolt Pistol
- Edge of Darkness
- This Mortal Coil
- Reek of Putrefaction
- Exhume to Consume
- Black Star
- Keep on Rotting in the Free World
- Corporal Jigsore Quandary
- Ruptured in Purulence intro – Heartwork
So we got a mix of sludge, death, NWOBHM, and tongue-in-cheek grind tonight, cool to get variety on a bill. Carcass will be working on a new album soon, so that’s good in that they’ll change up the setlist for the next tour. I think they just need some time to rest and re-charge now. Crowbar proved once again they are an underrated force in metal. WILL THAT NEVER DIES!