“I know, but it does have to end SOME time!”
This statement, delivered by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher near the end of Cannibal Corpse’s set, did little to console a fully engaged and rowdy crowd at Arizona Pete’s in Greensboro, NC on Sunday night. Fans cried out:
“Play twenty more songs!” “Play every album!”
The gargantuan frontman laughed and grasped his mic. “We do have an off day tomorrow, so we could play all night, but… we’re still not going to!”
Teasing banter like this is clearly Corpsegrinder’s favorite style, and perhaps it resonates simply because he speaks the truth. Cannibal Corpse are here to get in, wreck a venue, and get out - leaving hardcore fans with many war stories in the process. And boy did they leave with some good ones last Sunday night…
Perhaps it was the perfect, cool weather, or the supermoon suspended in the night sky, but the air was ripe for an ass kicking metal show. Proclaiming itself as “the longest running venue in Greensboro,” the large steel barn dubbed Arizona Pete’s has been known amongst locals for its wide variety of entertaining performances (they even housed Hatebreed and Dying Fetus last week), and the audibly assaulting tour package of Cannibal Corpse/Power Trip/Gatecreeper would be no exception. Fans waiting in the long line to get in were clamoring over which songs would be played, who on the lineup they hadn’t seen - usual pre-show jargon, but the overwhelming amount of Cannibal Corpse t-shirts immediately told you who this crowd was ready to throw down for. Upon gaining entry, a warm atmosphere was ready to greet the plethora of metalheads: a large bar, a small seating area in the corner, and a mechanical bull that seemed to peak everyone’s interest (this is North Carolina, after all!). The real action happened on the lower floor though, where a wide, open space was steadily being filled in front of the venue’s tall stage.
Festivities got off to a good start with NC locals Outliar. I only arrived in time to hear the back half of their set, but concertgoers who got in early enough seemed fairly receptive to the group’s hard blend of thrash and groove metal. Filling in that opening slot can be tough, especially on a bill with names this well known, but I’ll take it as a positive sign that there were more than a few Outliar shirts being worn by the show’s end.
As water-cooler conversations about death metal graced the room and the crowd continued to rise in numbers, the stage was set for Gatecreeper, exchanging the venue’s bright blue stage lights for a seasick green. From the moment those lights dimmed to allow the members on stage, it was all business. The irony of a band from Arizona playing at a place in NC called Arizona Pete’s didn’t appear to be lost on anyone, and the band owned their performance as if it was their hometown. An ambient, feedback-based intro swept the room before frontman Chase Mason softly spoke, “Hey, what’s up, we’re Gatecreeper,” and the ensemble broke into the opening groove of their latest single “Sweltering Madness.” Wielding his mic-stand with the same intensity one might pound a sledgehammer, and with the guitarists motioning their hands to get the crowd moving, it didn’t take long for the first circle pits of the night to open up. Gatecreeper’s riff-focused, no BS onslaught of old school worship reared a lot of heads, and I noticed people less familiar with the group losing themselves in the chaos. Both songs off of the bands new EP were played, as well as fan favorites from last year’s Sonoran Depravation, namely the instantly recognizable “Craving Flesh,” and “Patriarchal Grip” before the band finished strong with an energetic performance “Flamethrower.”
In between sets nearly half the venue seemed clear out for a cigarette break, which would be needed to cool down and get ready for the next band, Texan thrashers Power Trip. lt wasn’t long until the stage lights faded again and roars of excitement were heard as silhouetted musicians donned their respective instruments, hilariously coming out to the tune of “Easy Lover” by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins. Despite having grown up on angry thrash metal, Power Trip was surprisingly the band I was least familiar with, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t put on one hell of a show. Focusing mostly on new material, the group came out guns blazing with “Soul Sacrifice” and “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” played back to back, both of which featured plenty of involvement from everyone in the room. Moshing, sweating, headbanging, the energy between the fans and band was symbiotic in nature. It didn’t take long for the crowd surfing to start, kicked off by one red-haired fellow who was unceremoniously dropped before making it to the stage (note: he got back up and made it on his second attempt). Attempting to mimic his success was a surplus of likeminded individuals all “going up” - yours truly included. Whether they made it to the stage or not, the band clearly enjoyed the enthusiasm. Frontman Riley Gale was handing the mic off to excited members of the audience to let them finish his lines, and the band as a whole did a great job of livening up the evening before closing with tightly executed performances of “Firing Squad” and the title track off of Malevolent Decimation.
By this point of the show, however, there was one thing left weighing on everyone’s minds: the event’s main headliners and globally renowned death metal aficionados, Cannibal Corpse. A lot of people I spoke to said that this was their first time seeing them; I assured them that they were in for a treat. The five members walked on stage to feedback and waves of screams from die hard fans. As Paul Mazurkiewicz’ hi-hat counted down, the band swung into motion with Red Before Black‘s lead single, “Code of the Slashers.” From here on out, Arizona Pete’s turned into a complete madhouse of free-for-all mosh pits and crowd surfing maniacs. The band breezed through the first half of their set, containing the expected handful of newer tunes as well as fan favorites including “Scourge of Iron” and “Evisceration Plague.” What I love about watching Cannibal Corpse play is how relaxed they are in contrast to the crowd, which is always just a whirlwind of bodies pushing to get to the front. The band stopped occasionally to let Corpsegrinder do his thing with the audience, taking one lucky fan’s cell phone and recording himself announcing the name of “I Cum Blood.” Setlist wise, the band didn’t pull too many surprises; all of the necessities were in place, although there were still a couple of deeper cuts that old school Cannibal-fans were glad to hear. By the time the final third of their set kicked in with “Devoured by Vermin,” there wasn’t much left to do but be swept away by one of the biggest indoor mosh pits I have ever seen. Sweat and snot flew - most of the latter coming from Corpsegrinder himself - but no amount of either could slow anyone down. The last run of songs had Pete’s looking like the definition of a frenzy. Even Rob Barrett, the master of relaxation, couldn’t look away from the chaos.
As if any more needs to be said, by all accounts this tour has proven to be an absolute must see. At the time of this writing, only four dates remain, so if you happen to be in the vicinity of one of them? Skip school, call out of work, hire a babysitter, do what you have to - but do not miss it!
The remaining tour dates can be found on Cannibal Corpse’s website.