All Murder, All Guts, All Fun
Cannibal Corpse, Kataklysm and Gorerotted @ The Electric Ballroom, London, UK, on April 13, 2003
by: Jackie Smit
The workmanlike attitude that Cannibal Corpse has always displayed toward recording and touring makes it almost a case of mathematical theorem that anyone living within the outskirts of their well-trodden path will be given the opportunity to witness them in action at least once every two years. Indeed, their last visit to the capital was just a hair under two years ago, and if anything has changed from their previous bi-annual sojourn it would be the attendance, which in keeping with the current inexplicable burst of interest in all things heavy, has more than doubled.

Before the Cannibals can get down to the making of the metal though, we have to contend with local blood-and-guts merchants Gorerotted for a half hour. This is a band whose appeal continues to elude me -- their farcical brand of deathgrind just barely manages to saunter beyond mediocre, and their live shows are among some of the most boring that you are likely to witness anywhere in the underground scene. Unsurprisingly, tonight is no exception, as the band make nary an effort to even seem in the slight bit interested in what they're doing. Stage activity is virtually non-existent and aside from the odd amusing nugget ("Hawksaw" being one such rare morsel), it quite a relief to see them head backstage.

Not so with Kataklysm. Where the self-proclaimed Canadian hypergrinders' last few studio outings have failed to impress as far as I'm concerned, their stage performance is a whole different kettle of fish. Barreling through a selection of songs culled mostly from their recent _Serenity in Fire_ opus, even the fairly generic "Ambassador of Pain" ends up sounding utterly blistering. It is when Max Duhamel launches into a drum solo that clocks in the other side of warp 10 however, that Kataklysm's set is elevated from merely good to completely mind-blowing. And just when you thought that the envelope couldn't be pushed any further in terms of sheer blasting speed, they follow it up with a rendition of "Blood on Swans" that is so insanely brutal it threatens to rip apart the fabric of the space-time continuum.

Despite Kataklysm's best efforts, the heroes welcome that greets Cannibal Corpse's arrival on stage makes it eminently clear who the majority of punters have come to see. Rather than launch into a selection of material off _ The Wretched Spawn _ though, tonight's set list draws quite heavily from the band's first four records. "Stripped, Raped & Strangled", "Vomit the Soul", "Fucked With a Knife", "Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead", "The Cryptic Stench", "Gutted" and "Skull Full of Maggots" all get suitably riotous airings. Thankfully (for people like myself) fans of the band's later work aren't forgotten, as we also get to hear "Devoured by Vermin", "Pit of Zombies", "Dormant Bodies Bursting", "Pounded Into Dust", "The Wretched Spawn" and "Unleashing the Bloodthirsty". Bowing out with the obligatory "Hammer Smashed Face", there's quite frankly not all that much to set this show aside from any of Cannibal's countless other performances. That said, anyone who has seen the Buffalo quintet in action will testify that when they are on form they can kick up a racket with the best of them, and tonight they just make it look all too easy.

(article submitted 7/5/2004)


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