Despite being one of the most popular death metal acts in existence, Cannibal Corpse has failed to pull in the numbers on previous visits to Belfast. Performing to around 350 in the Spring and Airbrake eight years ago and infamously drawing only 134 to a Limelight show back in 2001, they’ve been a gamble when it comes to playing north of the border. Thankfully it’s a different story on this visit as just like their neighbour’s Feeder next door, tonight is a sellout, packing almost 500 punters into the Limelight 2. It’s going to be a sweaty one!
First up were Glaswegian five-piece Man Must Die. Grinding on the scene for over fifteen years, the band has shared the stage with many of their peers, notably warming up for this mini-tour with Cannibal Corpse by supporting Suffocation in their hometown of Glasgow under a fortnight ago. Unsurprisingly playing with the pioneers of death metal has the lads in their finest form.
Frontman Joe McGlynn’s ferocious presence on stage is reminiscent of the aforementioned Suffocation’s Frank Mullen. His unyielding stare as he roared out every word in utter anger cut a figure not to mess with. With that said, exhibiting such an uncompromising attitude immediately drew the attention of the ever-increasing numbers flooding into the venue.
Blasting through tracks such as “No Tolerance For Imperfection”, “It Comes in Threes” and “Slave To The Animal”, it was easy to overlook the technicality of the musicianship behind the domineering frontman. Their intricate mix of grindcore and technical death metal was levelled to perfection only to be complemented by McGlynn’s thunderous growls booming around the venue.
Thanking the crowd for starting a pit, Joe’s unmistakable thick Glaswegian accent led to the crowd chant of “here we, here we, here we fucking go”, no doubt making the lads feel like they were back home in bonny Scotland again. Closing out the forty-five minute set with the unrelenting “Kill It, Skin It, Wear It” demonstrated just how much this band deserves to be filling out venues every night of the week again.
Taking to the stage shortly after 8.30pm, most of Cannibal Corpse‘s subject matter really shouldn’t feature until after the watershed but as everyone is over eighteen here, I don’t think we’re at risk of being traumatised. Opening up with three tracks from their most recent release “Red Before Black”, the crowd made no bones about what they were here for and started a pit no more than 30 seconds into “Code of the Slashers”.
The unmistakable figure of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher planted front and centre of the stage was a sight to behold as he lurched over the microphone with long black hair covering his face. Despite not looking particularly agile, nothing can prepare you for the endless headbanging and whiplash-inducing windmills that the man can muster with his neck. Novelties such as this only sent the crowd further into a frenzy, culminating in crowd surfers going over the top to “Evisceration Plague” and “Scourge of Iron”.
Despite how easy it is to focus on Fisher, the other activities from his counterparts are an absolute exhibition of musicianship. Either end of the stage; Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett put on a guitar masterclass. The intricate and unorthodox nature of their music can sometimes be overlooked for its sheer speed and brutality but the actual efforts in creating the sound are mesmerizing to watch. Equally the contributions of founding members Alex Webster on bass and Paul Mazurkiewicz on drums must be mentioned. Hidden behind the four upright members of the band, Mazurkiewicz, in blistering heat I may add, blasts through song after song only to be comforted by two floor fans either side of his kit.
After working their way through a career spanning set and a thirty-six date European tour, Fisher left the crowd crying out for what has become the signature Cannibal Corpse sign off; “Hammer Smashed Face”. Not forgetting it’s famous appearance in Ace Ventura, the four-minute death metal classic signalled not only the last circle pits of the night but a thoroughly deserved rest for a band still on top of their game after almost thirty years on the road.