Cannibal Corpse & Behemoth
w/ Aeon & Tribulation
February 14, 2015
Review by JP Wood
Photos by Monika Deviat
Could there be a more perfect date on the calendar for a brutal Death and Black Metal show than February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day? I think not! That was the scenario for the Cannibal Corpse/Behemoth/Aeon/Tribulation show in Calgary. By a cruel twist of fate Calgary Metalheads had a very difficult choice to make as the Napalm Death/Voi-vod/Exhumed/Iron Reagan show was also in town the same night. These unfortunate coincidences happen on occasion as tours pass by and in a market of one million people it’s understandable that sometimes conflicts happen. What wasn’t clear was why several local bands scheduled bar shows on the same night as these tours!
The choice of which show to see was essentially made for me as my radio show also fell on that night and the station is located in the same building as the Cannibal Corpse show. I wasn’t heart-broken that the Cannibal/Behemoth show was my first choice as Napalm Death’s whiny, left-wing politics and lyrics have always left a bad taste in my mouth. In a semi-rare act of collaboration the two competing promoters tried to make a workable schedule. The Napalm Death show was at a much smaller venue (capacity 400 and did end up being a packed show) in a bar. The Cannibal Corpse/Behemoth show was at a public hall and was an all-ages gig. So the Cannibal show started early and the Napalm Death show started late. I spoke with many friends who planned to rush out of the Cannibal show (capacity 1000 and sold out) and head down to the bar (a mere 15 minute drive) and hopefully catch the tail end of Voi-vod before Napalm Death’s set. MacEwan Hall Ballroom seems to stick to a tight curfew lately and the all-ages gig had to start promptly even though there were people still waiting to get in as Tribulation started. Luckily I showed up early enough to catch the entire set.
It was my first time seeing Sweden’s Tribulation live and I was pleasantly surprised. Their compact 30 minute set brought 4-5 songs of their brand of progressive blackened death. I was especially impressed with the drummer, Jackob Ljungberg who had a lot of energy and brought a big rock show style to the songs. The opening slot is always tough, especially playing to a half-empty room but they held their own. By the time they closed with ‘When The Sky Is Black With Devils’, from their latest album, THE FORMULAS OF DEATH they had a mini-mosh pit going. They were charismatic and interesting and I think they will do well. A few people I chatted with after the set were really impressed with them.
The crowd was filling out nicely, and it was a young composite crowd. I commented to one of my older buddies that there were lots of young people and girls, something you would not have seen back in the early 90’s. He agreed and it was interesting to note that the old conflict between Black Metal and Death Metal fans that existed in the 90’s has largely faded away and now you have these multi-genre bills sharing the stage. Accordingly, up next was Aeon, straight-up old-school Death Metal also from Sweden.
The Metal Blade Records artist has been around for a while but it was odd that they were on the bill because it has been now over two years since their last album AEON’S BLACK was released. In one sense AEON were a bit dull compared to Tribulation. Dull is perhaps not the correct term but the band is far more relentless and far less musical than Tribulation. Aeon ripped through a 30 minute set of brutal old-school Death Metal largely inspired by Cannibal Corpse. I do not want to sound negative as they were heavy and brutal but they lacked stage presence and charisma of the other acts on the bill. However the back to basics style was admittedly crushing, no frills classic Death Metal and they cranked it up a notch.
Up next were Behemoth who were back in Calgary less than a year after the Metal Alliance Tour 2014. Riding high on a very well-received 2014 album (THE SATANIST) and the pending release of not one but two Behemoth related books, the Polish Blackened Death/Black Metal were by far the most theatrical act of the night. They brought the big show with corpse-paint, costumes, black leather, flaming torches, smoke, stage-props, big lights, spitting blood, pre-recorded intros, orchestral backing tracks and choreographed stage moves…it was almost like Kiss in 1976 all over! The band did not fail to entertain as the quartet drew largely from their second-era of material. Crystal clear sound, lots of room on stage and years of experience made them perhaps the highlight of the night.
The final band up was Cannibal Corpse. After the theatrical performance from Behemoth, the stage was stripped back down to basics and it was just Cannibal Corpse headbanging and delivering brutal death metal. The band still has a huge and avid following, and their following has continued to buy so many albums that Metal Blade Records presented Cannibal an award for two million sold in their career at one of their shows on this tour.
It seemed the crowd surfers had saved their energy for the final band because they started going hard. There was a sign indicated that if they crowd surfed more than once they were out, but by the few repeats going across, the venue may not have been kicking people out. “Scourge of Iron” kicked off the set and the band relentlessly tore through their first three songs before frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher even acknowledged them. Always stoic and looking slightly unimpressed on stage, Corpsegrinder provoked the audience’s fervour in-between songs. Tracks like “Kill of Become” and “Icepick Lobotomy” from the newest release SKELETAL DOMAIN were featured. The pit was constantly moving and classic songs such as “Make them Suffer” and “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” could ignite the crowd into further tumult. The encore was a satisfying two song assault of “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Devoured by Vermin”.
Check out more photos from the show here.