By: Alex Distefano Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse The Observatory May 16, 2013
It's been a while since this many bodies were packed so densely for a metal show at the Observatory. But, when you have two of the most brutal bands on the planet--Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse--performing back to back, I guess a little headbanging hysteria is to be expected. The two bands performed together as part of the Decibel Magazine Tour, also featuring old school East Coast death metal veterans Immolation, LA's up and coming Abysmal Dawn and the Bay Area band Cretin, who have been in and out of the scene since the early 90s.
The sold out how was about one thing and one thing only: Extreme music. People weren't here to mess around. It was saturated with people from the get go, and only filled up more as the night went on.
Openers Abysmal Dawn brought in the perfect mix of melody and old-school death metal mastery to warm up the crowd for Immolation, while Cretin offered their own unique blend of extreme metal leading up to the sweaty insanity of Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse.
Prior to the two headliners, New York's Immolation appeared to cast their evil East Coast spells, in the form of thunderous, brutal yet technical death metal riffs, tortured deep guttural vocals, a pounding bass you could feel in your chest, and machine guns blast beats faster than the speed of sound itself.
"We've been playing death metal for over 20 years, our first show in LA was at the Whisky," shouted the band's vocalist and bass player Ross Dolan. We want to thank all of you old school fans, together with the new school, horns up!"
The band played old-school tracks from their early career, including several off their legendary debut 'Dawn of Possession." Fans also got to hear several new songs from the band's latest dark, apocalyptic slab of brutality, Kingdom of Conspiracy. Guitarist Robert Vigna's impressive axe slinging moves, actually added a sense of sorcery and groove to the music that definitely got more heads banging.
Napalm Death, hailing from Birmingham, England can fit well on any concert featuring virtually any metal or punk bands. Over the past quarter of a century, the practically band invented a subset of metal known as grind core; a fluid mix of death metal and punk with hints of thrash thrown into the mix. The pit swirled with long hairs and, anarchy punks, and mohakws, as Napalm Death released their venomous energy into the crowd.
Vocalist Barney Greenway, led the band violently spitting out the lyrics to classic grind core tunes from albums such as Enemy of the Music Business, Harmony Corruption, From Enslavement to Obliteration, and hits such as 'When All is Said and Done,' "Suffer the Children, and the mandatory song from the band's debut album, 'Scum.' The pit got progressively violent, with the organized chaos, overflowing with heads slamming through each song. Napalm Death once again, ended with a heavy, sped up version of the Dead Kennedys' anti racist anthem, 'NAZI PUNKS F**K OFF!' For a group of middle aged men, after more than 20 years of playing brutal music, these guys sound like they have no intention of slowing down.
Up next, was the band that everyone in the house came to see (well except for the people in hip-hop show at the Constellation Room--not sure how these two concerts managed to share a wall). This was a sold out concert at the last minute, and the line to get in for Cannibal Corpse was still deep (10 to 15 minute wait) just after Napalm Death finished.
The band appeared as the entire venue was packed like sardines. The security guards were literally shoving and pushing bodies into the pit to keep them off the stairs and things were so tightly packed there was no room for a circle pit, this was more like a death metal human meat grinder.
Vocalist George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher's head was only still during the band's small breaks between songs, where talked about how much he loved Pussy, just before the fan favorite, 'Addicted to Vaginal Skin.' The rest, his head looked like a mop being twirled in a spinning machine. It was almost painful to think about the dude must feel after each night's show. But, this band doesn't give a fuck about pain, they're songs as literal musical horror movies, filled with images out of slasher films, torture, homicide, suicide, blood guts, gore and more. The band itself are mad men virtuosos, with speed and ferocity that many youngsters today wish they had.
The band raged through songs that spawned their entire two decade long career, including a blood soaked catalogue including songs like 'Sentenced To Burn,' 'Gutted,' 'I Cum Blood," and 'Decency Defied,' among many others.
"We're all here to have a good time, but these songs are not about good times, people are dying in these songs!" shouted Corpsegrinder, as the band also played songs from albums such as Kill, Vile, and Gore Obsessed and Evisceration Plague.
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As the night of brutality, head banging, slam dancing, beer chugging and busted eardrums came close to an end, the band paid tribute to Slayer's Jeff Hanneman, who died on May 2. "You owe it to us, and to Hanneman to bang your fucking heads and slam to these last two songs" Corpsegrinder yelled as the band performed an encore of the songs 'Hammer Smashed Face,' and 'Stripped Raped and Strangled.'
Critical Bias: Napalm Death just played the Observatory in Santa Ana, late last year(Nov), with Municipal Waste, Exhumed, Repulsion and Attitude Adjustment.
The Crowd: Tons of longhaired dudes, along with a pleasant mix of some hot women into death metal. Black was everywhere and there were more Slayer shirts than usual, with good reason. Most shirts were either from one of the bands playing or any infamous unreadable death metal band you can think of. The aroma of weed, sweat and beer permeated throughout the entire venue, from the first band to the last.
Random Notebook Dump: Cannibal Corpse is one of the most successful death metal bands, ever. The band has sold well over a million records and has toured the world numerous times. They have risen from a cult like status into the culture, and were featured in the late 90s file starring Jim Carrey, Ace Ventura Pet Detective.