Review of Cannibal Corpse gig at the Rock And Roll Hotel

This tour had, without a doubt, the best death metal line up of any North American tour this year. Devourment opening for Vital Remains, local favorites Dying Fetus and the kings of death metal themselves, Cannibal Corpse. On Sunday the 21st of November they all brought their combined brutality to the Rock And Roll Hotel in Washington, DC (you thought I was going to say Jaxx, didn’t you?) and aurally assaulted this venue like never before. Now I’ve seen a few metal shows at the Rock & Roll Hotel before, but they have not had any death metal, and what a great tour to bring in for their first extreme metal show at the venue! They didn’t have any local support, but luckily I’d just gone to see a great set of local death metal the night before at Jaxx, (my review of that show is here) so it was sort of like the openers played the night before.

When I first got to the venue, Devourment was already playing. I’m not sure how long they played but I saw them play four songs. There was already a good size crowd amassing so I stayed to the back of the room near the soundboard so that I wouldn’t damage my nice camera (they wouldn’t let me use it so I had to store it during the other bands’ sets). Because of all this I wasn’t in a great place to get video or still shots of these guys. They had the crowd already going though when I got there, and between every song I saw, and also in the middle of half of their songs, the lead singer, Mike Majewski, would instruct the crowd to mosh in a circle pit. The set seemed to focus on older material, I remember them playing Choking On Bile as well as closing with Babykiller. This was kind of odd though, since the band is hardly the band it used to be. Choking On Bile is from the band’s first full length, Molesting The Decapitated. That album totally rules, don’t get me wrong, and if you want to hear some of the best underground death metal there is, check that album out. But the band playing this night only had one member remaining from back then, the bass player, and he was now on vocals! This and the fact that Devourment will also be playing again in May at Maryland Deathfest (much more info about that on my calendar here) made me not so upset about missing some of their set this night. Also, their guitarist put on a white horse head mask for the final song, I have no idea why.

The next band to play was Vital Remains. No, Deicide‘s Glen Benton was not playing with them, though their bass player was wearing a Stench Of Redemption shirt. I’d put my DSLR away and had my point and shoot camera ready and was standing in the front by the time they took the stage. The vocalist, Scott Wily, had on these spiked Immortal-esque bracers and was again telling people to keep a circle pit going. Ok, really? I remember thinking how dumb it was watching hardcore kids do laps in circle pits, why are these death metal bands encouraging this instead of straight up brutal mosh pits? Whatever, it was all to my back for the most part anyways. They did play a great set made up mostly of material from their two most recent albums, Icons Of Evil and Dechristianize. That’s fine by me, even though I often want bands to play older songs I’ve always enjoyed their more recent material as I think they really refined and defined their sound. Plus it’s fucking faster than their old stuff, and trust me they don’t slow it down live. Most of the people near me seemed to know most of the words to Dechristianize and were screaming along with it, which goes to show the power of getting an iconic vocalist like Benton on those studio albums. Of course with their long songs, their set seemed to fly by and since there were still two more bands to play their set was shorter than I’d have liked. They also didn’t play the song Shrapnel Embedded Flesh (a personal favorite of mine) but other than those two minor gripes they really did a kick ass job of taking the brutality up a notch.

The next band set to play was Dying Fetus. Now, before I make my next statement here, let me first say that I haven’t seen them in quite a few years and that might have something to do with my opinion on the matter. That said, Dying Fetus fucking killed it this show and really, I think they showed up Cannibal Corpse. Their setlist was great from start to finish, and while their stage time was shorter they didn’t talk a lot between songs. For the most part they just played some brutal fucking death metal, of course with all those grind elements and breakdowns their sound is known for. Dying Fetus is from the DC suburbs of Maryland and I don’t know if that was the reason why, but they did play a lot of older material, including two songs off of the Killing On Adrenaline album, which was awesome. Some of these songs I hadn’t even listened to in years and I really enjoyed remembering them as they played songs from their entire back catalog. They even played the song Eviscerated Offspring from their 1994 demo! The mosh pit went crazy, combining brutal death metal with catchy breakdowns will do that, haha. There are a lot of bands who do that now of course, to the point it can get really annoying really quickly, but after seeing this gig there is no question in my mind that Dying Fetus are still the best at it. They opened with Praise The Lord (Opium Of The Masses) which really set the tone of the show from the start, and the intensity didn’t let up until they finished their set with Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog. In all, it was a great performance by one of the leaders in death metal.

Finally it was time for the headliner, Cannibal Corpse. They played the area not too long ago, when they came to Jaxx back in April (my review of that is here) and this concert wasn’t a whole lot different really. There are some things you can expect at a Cannibal Corpse show these days, brutal music is one of them of course. But you also know that when their vocalist, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher says the next song goes out to all the women in the audience, they’re going to play Preacher Of Sodom (used to be Fucked With A Knife but that song doesn’t seem to be part of their set list any more) and you know when he says Hammer Smashed Face is their last song of the night, after it’s done he’s going to say he lied about it being the final song as they start playing Stripped, Raped And Strangled. This show had all that of course, but there were a few surprises. For one, they played the song Gutted off of Butchered At Birth, and Corpsegrinder said that he grew up in Baltimore so the show was a sort of coming home and he reminisced about coming to see concerts at the 9:30 Club and the like and he said the Rock N Roll Hotel had a similar feeling to those places back then. He also challenged the audience to keep up with his extreme headbanging during the song I Cum Blood, and I’ve got video of that below you can watch. A few touches like those aside, the show was fairly typical for Cannibal Corpse, and while I’ve seen them play a hell of a lot of times, you could tell by all the X’s I saw on people’s hands that many of those in attendance probably hadn’t seen them before and the aspects of the show I see as becoming a pattern were all new to them. The venue was pretty packed and I saw the guy in the full body chicken suit in the mosh pit (hadn’t seen him around in a couple years!) as well as a guy in a V For Vendetta style Guy Fawkes mask. Yeah, Cannibal Corpse draws an odd crowd. Their set was intense and sweaty and brutal as always, and it was a lot of fun. And I know I’ve seen them play at least 10 times before, but I’ll never get tired of watching Cannibal Corpse play Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped Raped And Strangled back to back while standing two feet in front of me. Those are two of the most iconic death metal songs ever written and essentially define the band, if not the death metal genre itself.

At this concert I could tell the District is hungry for more metal and several people asked me about my site after seeing the logo on my shirt, all basically saying the city needed something like that. Even the manager of the venue told me he’d be interested in having a regular metal night there. I sure as hell would like to see something like that happen. Even though the bands were crammed on the stage, this was a great show to bring death metal back into the city with. I know a lot of the people there won’t head out to places in the suburbs like Jaxx for concerts a lot due to transportation and other issues. It was another good turn out, reinforcing the fact that heavy metal is on the rise in the entire area, not just the suburbs. It was also my second great death metal concert in a row, what more can you ask for? Now check out the videos I shot of the final three bands below.

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