When: Sat., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m. 2016
The five current members of Florida death-metal institution Cannibal Corpse have been in the band for a total of 106 years—and two of them, drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz and bassist Alex Webster, were around for its founding in 1988. On their 13th full-length, A Skeletal Domain (released in September on Metal Blade), they’re as dialed-in as they’ve ever been—picture a colossal threshing machine that can outrun a bullet train, cloaked in a clotted spume of blood and bone chips, with the ragged, bludgeoning roar of front man George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher bursting out of it like detonations of black ash from a smokestack. The album is exhaustingly, almost absurdly relentless—even what might’ve otherwise been an almost languid progression at the start of “Funeral Cremation” gets battered with a thundering double-time kick drum—but once your ears get used to the band’s gory assault, you can pick up on the technical intricacy and athletic joy in their playing. Webster and guitarists Rob Barrett and Pat O’Brien share the bulk of the songwriting, and you can practically hear them trying to one-up one another: “Asphyxiate to Resuscitate” seesaws between clusters of five and seven pulses; “Bloodstained Cement” groups its beats into two tens and a 12, then trades sevens and eights; “Icepick Lobotomy” opens with spidery, pell-mell stair-stepping in the guitars; and “Hollowed Bodies” tosses together a salad of odd bar lengths. Cannibal Corpse range widely in their back catalog for their set lists, but unlike certain other elder statesmen of death metal, they won’t need to go light on material from their new album (cough, Morbid Angel).
In the late 90s and early aughts, Florida death-metal pioneers Obituary took a few years off to look after their families and day jobs, and after 2009’s Darkest Day they had another short hiatus brought on by personnel changes. But don’t take this instability to suggest weakness: the new Inked in Blood, Obituary’s first album for Relapse, was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised $10,000 in a single day, and it gives fans their money’s worth. New bass player Terry Butler holds down the densely packed riffage, which for the most part stays in inexorable-rotating-blade-machine midtempo territory—though the monstrous, heavy-handed beats of founding drummer Donald Tardy give it an unstoppable momentum, demonstrating that in death metal, mass is at least as important as velocity. Guitar solos rise up out of the morass like high-tension wires, and front man John Tardy, who has one of the genre’s most distinctive voices, howls and growls like he means it (though he’s admitted that there’s no particular message in his lyrics). In the hooky, loping “Violence,” you can tell exactly when the fists will go up in the mosh pit, and I especially like the simple, devastating riff that powers “Deny You.” And I can’t wrap this up without mentioning Metal Meowlisha, the charity run by Donald Tardy and his wife, Heather, which cares for feral cats. If you’re on the fence about going to this show, think of the kitties.
Philip Montoro, Monica Kendrick