All-out brutality—this sums up the concert that took place at The Complex on Tuesday, March 1. Spanning nearly five hours, the bone-crushing lineup of Obituary, Cryptopsy and Abysmal Dawn would satiate almost any metalhead’s appetite, but throw in the most successful death metal band of all time, Cannibal Corpse, and you have a recipe for a sprained neck and ringing ears.
Abysmal Dawn took the stage as the opening act with ferocity and enthusiasm. “We’ve gone through a lot of shit to get here tonight …” said guitarist/vocalist Andy Nelson before requesting that the crowd show their support by forming a circle pit. Abysmal Dawn attacked their 30-minute set with heart and endurance, leaving to cheers before the crowd emptied into the main entry to purchase merchandise, grab a snack and (perhaps) catch their breaths.
Montreal’s Cryptopsy came on next and provided a contrast to Abysmal Dawn’s sound with a more sludge/deathcore approach: Singer Matt McGachy growled and roared between epic, whirlwind headbanging. McGachy encouraged and beckoned the fans to give their all during the set. Whenever he was dissatisfied with the energy in the room, he would simply beckon to the crowd with his hands, signaling “MORE.” After a ruthless set, the audience emptied out of The Grand room to once again quest for water, food, merchandise and oxygen.
Between sets, the diehard metalheads were proudly sporting their armor: battle jackets—vests adorned with band patches, some sewn so tightly together that they resembled a serpent’s scales.
Obituary took the stage next, going straight into the instrumental off of their 2014 album, Inked in Blood, the band’s first new album in nine years. As death metal has gestated and matured, there have been overlap and commonality in certain aspects of the sound and structure of songs. Obituary are credited with being one of the first truly influential bands, with roots stemming from 1984 (then known as Executioner). With dirge-like riffs intermixed with higher-pace double kick drums, Obituary already have a signature sound, but it’s John Tardy‘s vocals that are truly distinct. Somewhere between a scream and a roar, any true metalhead can quite easily pick out his signature timbre. Obituary’s entire set was polished and provoking, with the crowd indefatigably participating the whole time. Despite their doom and despair sound, anytime a light would hit drummer Donald Tardy‘s face, the audience could easily see him wearing a big smile—it’s hard to hide how much he loves what he does. Never has an hour passed so quickly: When Obituary finished, they were thanked with deafening cheers and applause, a fine sendoff for one of the greatest death metal bands of all time.
This left only one band on the bill: Cannibal Corpse—the band, judging by the dominant saturation of attendees sporting Corpse shirts, that everyone was there to see. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher took the stage and, at six-foot-one (going on 10-feet tall), he loomed over the crowd. Silently, like a harbinger of death, he surveyed the souls in front of him, ready to be harvested. From the first note, the entire room erupted with unbridled aggression and energy. Fisher cast a demonic stare from underneath his long black hair, feeding the crowd the fuel they required through his unmistakable guttural growl and scream. Cannibal Corpse have such a presence on the stage: They hardly move, really, aside from methodical head bobbing, and their fingers move so fast you need to watch the slow-motion replay to catch all of the notes. Whenever Fisher isn’t roaring out the dark lyrics of their songs, he is head-banging with iconic precision (it would be interesting to count how many revolutions he does in a show). Corpse played some of their newer songs first before changing over to the classics that got them banned in certain countries back in the ’90s.
At 12:15 a.m., after over an hour on stage, Cannibal Corpse finally unhooked their claws from their ravaged fans and allowed the audience to stumble to their cars to head home. Ready for a night of deep slumber, the fans wore tired smiles and drooping shoulders as they filed out, but no one showed significant damage from over four hours of soul expenditure from what will probably be the most brutal metal show of 2016 for Salt Lake City.