On February 20th, 2016 Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Cryptopsy, and Abysmal Dawn played to a sold out Opera House in Toronto, Ontario and it was magnificent. First of all, whoever booked this tour couldn’t have put together a better lineup to showcase some of death metal’s best. This was a special show for me for a couple of reasons. First, Cannibal Corpse is my favorite death metal band and it was my first time seeing them headline a show. I have seen them before but it was in a festival setting (Heavy TO) where the sets are short and often are just a tease. This was also my first time seeing death metal legends, Obituary live which was a treat to say the least. The second reason (I guess technically the third) this show was special for me is that the wife and I are about to have our first child in March so it was basically my last hurrah for a while, my last chance to let loose before I’m changing shitty diapers and all of that other wonderful stuff. Don’t get me wrong though, I couldn’t be more excited to be a father, I can’t wait to meet my son and embark on this journey with my loving wife. But like I said, this was my last chance to let loose for a little while and I can’t think of a better show to do just that. Unfortunately my usual concert companion, my wife couldn’t come to this particular event for obvious reasons so I was joined by a few of my metal crazed friends to witness this amazing lineup. Now, we’re from a small town about two hours north of Toronto where shows of any kind are rare, and forget about death metal shows, they just don’t exist up here. So the two hour trip to Toronto is one we make quite often seeing as that’s the only way we can see concerts like this. Needless to say but these trips are pretty damn expensive when it’s so far away from home, so the lineup usually has to be pretty stellar or at least a band that we are big fans of. In this case it was both, an insane lineup and two of the best bands to ever play death metal, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary.
The Opera House has always been one of my favorite venues to see a show in Toronto. I’ve seen more than a few shows there and have never had a bad experience. There’s no seats, aside from the balcony which to be honest I’ve never even gone up there, so most shows are general admission and that means you can get as close to the action as you want. Another great thing about the Opera House is that it has amazing sound. It may be old but it was designed to sound great and after all these years it still holds up sound wise to brand new venues. Another thing that gives the Opera House bonus points in my books is the security. I know it sounds weird but hear me out. They only care about safety, they pat you down for weapons and that’s it. They don’t care if you’ve been drinking all day or if you’ve brought a bunch of weed or whatever else with you. They don’t walk around busting people for having a good time like they do at so many other venues. In between bands I went out for a smoke with some metal brethren I met inside and a few of them were indulging in some greenery which is quite common, what isn’t common is for security to not give a shit what you’re smoking, just that we kept the sidewalk clear for people to get through. Also they’re cool people in general, they aren’t all uptight and anal about everything, they’ll shoot the shit with you and make jokes which just gives the whole atmosphere a better vibe. I also love that the Opera House has two bars. You’re never more than fifty feet away from a drink which is great in my books and their prices are reasonable, unlike some of the stadium type venues where they charge the price of your ticket for a beer.
The first band to take to the stage was Abysmal Dawn from Los Angeles, California. I’m fairly new to this particular band and wasn’t really sure what to expect. At this point in the evening the venue wasn’t packed to capacity yet so there was lots of room for a mosh pit and to get close to the stage. Abysmal Dawn was a great opener, they set the tone for the whole event. They mostly played songs off their newest album, Obsolescence (2014) and a handful of their more successful tracks from their back catalogue. Charles Elliott‘s vocals sounded awesome and the whole band was tight and very impressive as a whole. Like I said earlier, I’m not very familiar with the band aside from watching their videos on YouTube in preparation for the show but they definitely made a fan out of me with their awesome live performance.
After a smoke and few trips to the bar it was time for Montreal, Canada’s extremely talented quartet, Cryptopsy to take to the stage. A band that I’m pretty familiar with and have been following for quite some time now. Anyone who knows the legacy of Cryptopsy know that they’ve gone through some lineup changes over the years that some feel has changed the band’s sound. I’ll admit that I was pretty worried when Lord Worm was replaced by Matt McGachy back in 2007 but was quickly put at ease when I saw how talented and brutal his vocals are. His lows are out of this world and in my opinion is a fantastic front man and perfect fit for Cryptopsy, not to mention his hair is ridiculously awesome. They were musically the best band of the night in my opinion. I swear I just stood by the stage with my jaw hanging wide open the entire time they played. The amount of talent and skill in this band is truly something to behold. Everything from Matt McGachy‘s insane vocals and mesmerizing hair windmills, to the fret board wizardry of Christian Donaldson, Olivier Pinard’s jaw dropping bass playing and of course Flo Mounier‘s hard hitting, precise and machine-like drumming was truly amazing to witness. Cryptopsy blew me away. They were incredible.
Tampa, Florida death metal legends, Obituary were next and by this time the venue was packed wall to wall with rabid death metal fans all trying to get as close as possible to the stage. The floor was packed like a can of sardines and I have no doubt more than few people got a mouthful of my sweaty, beer soaked hair if they were anywhere near me during this set. My favorite thing about Obituary has always been their ability to write these head banging riffs with that almost less is more mentality. They’re just so damn groovy for a death metal band, I love it. They were everything I was hoping for and more. They opened their set with “Redneck Stomp,” an instrumental piece that got the crowd even more hyped than they already were and when front man John Tardy appeared on stage the reaction was deafening. The energy in that building during Obituary‘s set was electrifying. The crowd was a sea of beer, sweat, blood and hair, it was beautiful. Obituary played pretty much everything you’d expect them to play, with their latest release, Inked In Blood getting the most attention, naturally. The band was extremely tight and sounded phenomenal. Everything from Donald Tardy‘s drumming to the incredible riff mastery of Trevor Peres and Kenny Andrews, and of course Terry Butler‘s thunderous bass was on point and solid. Another incredible performance and another highlight of the already eventful and amazing evening.
After everything we had witnessed that night it was hard to believe there was more to come, and by more I mean the almighty Cannibal Corpse! As soon as the first note was played the crowd erupted into one giant, wall to wall pit, no one on that floor was safe. It was awesome! The intensity lasted through their entire set and those unsuspecting souls who found themselves trapped in this mammoth pit of savage Cannibal Corpse fans quickly squeezed their way to the back of the venue. It was death metal in it’s purest form. They played a set list full of old favorites like “Make Them Suffer,” “Hammer Smashed Face,” “Born In A Casket,” and “I Cum Blood.” They also played a healthy dose of new favorites like “Evisceration Plague,” “Icepick Lobotomy,” and “Kill Or Become.” They packed a total of seventeen of their best and most skull crushing songs into their set ending the night with “Devoured By Vermin,” a perfect closer to a perfect set. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher sounded even more brutal live than on their records and his stage presence and trademark hair windmills atop that humungous neck of his is always a treat to see. Cannibal Corpse sounded as tight as ever and the dominant red lighting gave them a very sinister and evil presence that just added to the overall atmosphere. Paul Mazurkiewicz‘s drumming was precise, powerful and his double kicks felt like there was a vibration in my chest. Alex Webster‘s bass was thunderous and tight as always. Patrick O’Brien‘s leads were on point and his partner Rob Barret sounded like a fine tuned guitar riff machine. Cannibal Corpse truly knocked this one out of the park and so did the audience for the most part. About halfway through the set a little scuffle broke out but “Corpsegrinder” put a stop to that pretty quickly. He asked why they were fighting then said something to the effect of “Stop fighting!…The people out there expect you to behave like a bunch of assholes and all your doing is proving them right. Don’t prove them right!…If you guys don’t cut it out I’m going to come down there and I guarantee you’ll be sorry!” Needless to say that was the end of that! All in all it was an amazing night of death metal and a perfect last hurrah for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better show. 666 horns way up for this one! If this tour hasn’t passed through your area yet and you’re a fan of death metal, I highly recommend checking this tour out. Also you can pick up albums from any of the mentioned artists through the Amazon link in the sidebar.
Shawn “Short-Fuse” Carter