Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse, Aeon, Tribulation
Whether the local OC metalheads were looking for a party or a spiritual experience, concertgoers received doses of both as Poland blackened death metal demigods Behemoth and American death metal conquistadors Cannibal Corpse pillaged the Observatory on Saturday night.
Starting the year with a rigorous winter tour and still feeding off of their most acclaimed album since their formation in 1991, Behemoth's The Satanist-themed ritualistic performance demonstrated years of perfecting the craft of ceremonious metal. The band's Middle Eastern influences were decorated as serpents emerged from microphone stands. The minimal white light and red beams emanated the Toxic Vision designed stage clothes and demonic face paint priming fans for a sacrificial feast. The nefarious trappings were meticulously planned for an entire experience, leaving fans filled with skepticism, fear, awe, invigoration and arousal.
The pungent scent of Nag Champa incense burned from vocalist and guitarist Adam "Nergal" Darski's microphone altar, moments before he kneeled to the audience with flaming posts in both hands. Drummer Zbigniew "Inferno" Prominski, Tomasz "Orion" Wroblewski and Patryk "Seth" Sztyber then emerged to open into "Ora Pro Nobis" off of The Satanist.
The band blasted their way through "Conquer" All from 2005's Demigod next, highlighting Inferno's precision and double bass pounding. Before proceeding to Ben Sahar, Nergal glares at the audience and screams into the echoed mic asking, "doesn't it feel good to be alive?" Nergal's miraculous recovery from leukemia only a few years ago must have awoken a new being and appreciation for life that inspired "Messe Noire" on The Satanist which opens with the lyrics "I believe in Satan."
Guitarist Seth railed through a number of chaotic riffs as Behemoth moved through the set that also included "Of Fire, At the Left," "Slaves" and a special (rather consistent) appearance by Inferno's drum tech for additional instrumentals. Near the closing, Orion further morphed into a Mayan warrior by pounding his fist on his five-string ESP bass. The half full finale encompassed their black horned masks, Nergal's backing incantation while basking in a stagnant, yet dark solace to the show.
Preceding the ritual, 25-years-strong Cannibal Corpse completely crushed through a full set providing OC fans with another consistent death metal party. Although their stage dressing was not elaborate (nor has it ever been), Cannibal erupted the most untamable mosh pits of the night. Fans were already shoving before bassist Alex Webster started flicking his fingers across his strings and immediately started diving from the barricades and tossing PBR cans into the air when frontman George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher whipped his thick-muscled neck in circles for the first time.
Cannibal pleased the crowd with old-school vomit-inducing favorites such as "Stripped, Raped and Strangled," "Addicted to Vaginal Skin," "Skull Full of Maggots" and "Hammer-Smashed Face." The band ravaged through at least one new track from their latest album A Skeletal Domain called "Kill or Become" that sent fans into a worm-roll crowd surfing frenzy.
While there were definitely segregated Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth fans, supporters Aeon and Tribulation brought in the attendees early and rallied up the crowd for both metal shows to come. Depending on which headlining experience you preferred of the night, Behemoth's masterful showcase left some unsatisfied as they eliminated The Satanist song "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" from the set, worthy of 2014's Video of the Year. Although the opening instrumentals are simplistic, the band left out a key song that could've made the show apocalyptic.