Cannibal Corpse @ O2 Academy, Bristol – 18 April 2023

Tonight at a sold out Bristol Academy, and in support of their 2021 album release ‘Violence Unimagined’, Cannibal Corpse open the UK leg of their European/UK tour, along with Dark Funeral, Ingested and Stormruler. 

Prior to Cannibal Corpse, I catch a blasphemous dose of Swedish black metal kings Dark Funeral. Marching on stage to deliver a sonic attack of Satanic worship, frontman Andreas Vingbäck – aka Heljarmadr – and his nefarious, corpse painted brotherhood, tear through their potent black metal compositions.

Dark Funeral

From ‘We Are the Apocalypse’ and ‘The Arrival of Satan’s Empire’ to ‘Let the Devil In’ and ‘Where Shadows Forever Reign’, we are gifted a selection of gear-shifting, sinister riffage, dark harmonies and ferocious blast beats. It’s clear that Dark Funeral know how to put on an exquisite and powerful live performance, and they are a captivating watch.

Along with the despair and agony of Heljarmadr’s vocal, come chants of “Hail Satan”, with a human skull and inverted cross also making well timed appearances. The man himself pays tribute to the bands and crew involved on this tour, and at the close of their set, Dark Funeral exit to a massive Bristolian show of appreciation.

As their iconic, blood-painted logo is unveiled across the back of the stage it occurs to me that Florida based, death metal legends Cannibal Corpse have been causing controversy with their aggressively hostile sound and repulsive subject matter for around 35 years. That thought might age me on the spot, but good on ’em I say, and a rammed Bristol O2 Academy concurs, as George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and Co. are welcomed to the stage.

Launching into ‘Scourge of Iron’, Corpsegrinder spews his signature guttural roar and unleashes that intimidating windmill headbanging. In an effort to capture a close-up photo, the back of my neck is whipped by the ends of his hair! Heading into ‘The Time to Kill Is Now’, pit security are kept on their toes, with a circle pit sending waves of those committed to their crowd surfing responsibilities.

It’s not until the ferocity of ‘Inhumane Harvest’ and ‘Code of the Slashers’ has passed, that we have time for a breather. Stepping forward Corpsegrinder barks: “I’ve got one question for you! … How the fuck are you doing tonight?” The comeback is ravenous, which leads him to announce up next is “a song for the ladies!” With that, the ladies in the audience scream with delight for the wonderfully disturbing ‘Fucked With a Knife’.

A quick stop off point here is to emphasise that no matter how extreme the sound of Cannibal Corpse might be, the musicality of Webster, Mazurkiewicz, Barrett, plus recent addition Rutan, (one of death metal’s most acclaimed guitarists for his time with Morbid Angel), is technically uncompromising. This goes without saying to those who know, but for those who don’t, the mayhem simply continues. Corpsegrinder bellows “It’s time to fire up the chainsaw!!!” for the zombie slaying that is ‘Kill or Become’.

A minimal amount of material from ‘Violence Unimagined’ is on the setlist tonight, but this does make way for a deluge from the 15 album catalogue. Classic cuts include ‘Gutted’,  ‘I Cum Blood’, and ‘A Skull Full of Maggots’. Corpsegrinder dedicates ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’ to Black Dahlia Murder vocalist Trevor Strnad, who sadly passed away last year at the age of 41.

No Cannibal Corpse show is complete without ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ from the legendary 1992 album, ‘Tomb of the Mutilated’. While leading to the bands cameo appearance in the 1994 film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. the track remains a brutally certified, death metal classic, and tonight it signals the triumphant ending to a masterful performance.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Cannibal Corpse