Event: Cannibal Corpse – North American Tour, 2022
Venue: Piere’s Entertainment Center – Fort Wayne, Indiana
Date: November 10, 2022
Artists Performed: Black Anvil, Immolation, Dark Funeral, Cannibal Corpse
The nearly 100-mile drive from Toledo to Fort Wayne wasn’t bad. There were no major accidents and plenty of places to stop for coffee and that kind of thing, but it took longer than I expected. Delays happen almost every time there’s a commute involved, but from time to time missing the opening act is a huge bummer. Such was the case this night when the act I missed was Black Anvil. I was eager to hear them play some tunes from Regenesis, their fifth LP and first with Season of Mist, which was released to well-deserved fervency less than a week before.
I got to Piere’s just before the Immolation set. A cool place, Piere’s. I hadn’t been before. Not much room to breathe in there, but a friendly atmosphere makes for a good first impression. Immolation released their eleventh album in early 2022 – Acts of God, one of the best death metal records of the year – and I was lucky enough to see their headline set at The Grog Shop in Cleveland at the beginning of spring. One thing about headlining acts is that they’re able to ride the waves their openers stir up, so seeing them as support acts themselves is always dynamic I’m interested in.
The set was heavy on new material (“An Act of God,” “Noose of Thorns,” “Shed the Light,” and “Let the Darkness In.”) with a couple older tunes thrown in for good measure. With a catalog as extensive as theirs and only twenty/thirty minutes of stage time, it must be a challenge to choose which older tunes to pepper in.
The atmosphere shifted almost immediately when Dark Funeral took the stage. The room felt darker and the air was heavier. Not in an unfriendly way, but deeply serious. Evident from their demeanor alone, Dark Funeral meant business. Tearing through several songs from their latest record, We Are The Apocalypse, including “Leviathan,” and “Let the Devil In,” they took the audience on a journey through Dark Funeral history.
Standout moments from the set were “Nail Them to the Cross,” “Open the Gates,” and “When I’m Gone,” though I have to say the “Hail Satan!” chant routinely led by vocalist Heljarmadr felt forced and kinda ridiculous when it was all said and done. That took me out of the moment just long enough that I started being bothered by other things. Between songs, for example, there was a pre-recorded low-hum with the sound of rattling chains, most likely explicitly designed to make people uncomfortable.
While I can appreciate the concept of suffering as a shared experience, especially as filtered through the sound of black metal, it started to feel too invasive. The sound guy may have been a little too chummy with the low end, but it seemed to me that – outside of the chants to Beelzebub, the obvious Satanic lyrical content, and the oral molestation of a crucifix – Dark Funeral was trying to be subliminally offensive as well. You know, just in case attendees missed some of the clues. Intentional or not, it left a bit of a stain on what was otherwise an excellent set. That was a shame, but not one that Dark Funeral would care much about. They proved their point.
To say I was excited to see Cannibal Corpse again would be a gigantic understatement. It had been a while since I saw them headline. They’re always insane but an evening that ends with Cannibal Corpse has a whole different vibe than one Cannibal Corpse begins. Of course, they get the benefit of a longer set, but like I said earlier, opening acts contribute immensely to the energy of the headliner. Both Immolation and Dark Funeral went out of their way to mention how fantastic the lineup was and despite a couple devil-flavored hiccups, they had every reason to gush.
That place was sufficiently riled up before Cannibal Corpse started battering the shit out of us – “Scourge of Iron,” “Inhumane Harvest,” a little bit of Corpsegrinder banter, “Fucked With a Knife,” “Code of the Slashers,” a little more Corpsegrinder, “Kill or Become” – it was a bloodbath!
At no point was it a good idea to attempt a hike from one side of the club to the other, which wasn’t a surprise. The crowd was what you’d expect at a Cannibal Corpse show even if you’ve never been to a Cannibal Corpse show. They’re the kind of band you can kind of imagine being in the pit for, which was precisely why I stayed toward the back.
“Gutted,” “Kill Or Become,” Corpsegrinder banter, “I Cum Blood,” “Evisceration Plague,” I swear to God I saw Dallas Toler-Wade from Narcotic Wasteland push past the dude who played Johnny in The Karate Kid. I didn’t pick up much detail on Toler-Wade but Johnny was wearing a Burzum shirt. Shocker! “Death Walking Terror,”“Condemnation Contagion,” “A Skull Full of Maggots.”
Corpsegrinder took a minute to see how loud he could get the room to scream before dedicating the final two songs – “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled,” and “Hammer Smashed Face” – to the great and sadly departed Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder. No letting up, no slowing down, this was Cannibal Corpse solidifying second by second their place at the top of the death metal mountain and it was glorious.
There’s still time to catch this tour, which ends December 10th in Florida, and then Cannibal Corpse is off to Europe for the first half of 2023.