February 16, 2015 Behemoth & Cannibal Corpse destroy The Observatory Santa Ana, CA 2-7-15 w/ Tribulation & Aeon
Life is a constantly evolving cycle that has no end. Music is not immune to the evolution process, and perhaps one of the sub-genres which has sustained the most changes has been Heavy Metal. Always considered a controversial genre, the music itself holds its own independence while being an amorphic presence at the same time. What is an astounding feat is witnessing both present bands and past bands come together and perform, and seeing how different the music writing style has changed. Bringing that to the forefront is the co-headlining Winter bill of Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth pillaging across North America. Conjuring forces where East meets West, both bands have new material to celebrate and what better way than performing live. Bringing along Tribulation and Aeon as support, the Metal assembly arrived at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California on Saturday February 7th for an evening that united generations.
After patiently waiting on a massive line outside the venue, fans piled in for Swedish Death Metal group Tribulation. Previously known as Hazard, last time Tribulation came to the states was two years ago while on tour with Watain, where they gained a huge following. Now they find a horde of followers who were ready to see them again. Still supporting their highly praised sophomore album, The Formulas of Death, Tribulation have quickly built a name for themselves as an act that puts a lot of thought and time into their music. Extensively active on stage, Johannes Andersson (vocals/bass), Adam Zaars (guitar), Jonathan Hultén (guitar), and Jakob Ljungberg (drums) were aderalinzed as they put on a frenetic performance. Bringing their creations to the stage, the band pumped out songs with a strong atmospheric sound that imbue the air with an energy that one could not help but follow through with headbanging. Interestingly, Tribulation strays from the norm Heavy Metal guitars and played with unique Rockabilly guitars that packed a massive sound. Portraying a mystifying and horrific scene that complements their style, Tribulation’s Progressive Black Metal vibe was an interesting combination that not many can pull off.
Next up was fellow Swedes Aeon. An Aeon is a class of powers or beings conceived from a super being. What that super being is is up to the reader’s interpretation. Starting in 1999, Aeon consists of mainstays Tommy Dahlström (vocals), Sebastian “Zeb” Nilsson (guitars/vocals), as well as newer members Tony Östman (bass), Emil Wiksten (drums), and Ronnie Björnström (guitar). Utilizing low-tuned guitars and fast drumming to reflect the anti-Christian style of lyrics they have become infamous for, Aeon certainly lives up their name. As quickly as their setlist seemed to go by, it was intense and memorable. Playing “Foregiveness Denied” and “Kill Them All” from their 2010 album The Path of Fire brought the crowd to life and created a mosh pit so fierce that Poseidon himself thought, “I must step up my waves.” Songs like “Blessed by the Priest” from their latest album Aeons Black (2012) shows that Aeon will not stop until they become a force to be reckoned with.
The time had come for one of American Death Metal’s most iconic acts in Cannibal Corpse. Starting in 1988, Cannibal Corpse has been bringing their obscene brand of Death Metal to the masses from Buffalo, New York to anywhere they are permitted. Cannibal Corpse has been one of the biggest Death Metal bands that have been around. In fact, this year they received an award from Metal Blade Records for over 200 Million sold records in their career. Combining throat-ripping sounds with gruesome artwork and horrifying lyrics of death and destruction to the human race, it is a testament to laugh in the face of critics as they have remained in the Billboard 200 chart since 1996. Now the time had come for the band to ignite a new riot at The Observatory with a set combining the old and new highlighting all thirteen of their albums.
Immediately provoking a crowd reaction, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, Alex Webster, Pat O’Brien, Paul Mazurkiewicz, and Rob Barrett began with “Scourge of Iron.” Those whom are unaware, Corpsegrinder is an avid player of the game World of Warcraft, he even has a tattoo for the Horde army on his arm. So it is no wonder a rabid fan in the sea of sweat began to shout “Fuck the Alliance” after each song. Acknowledging the chant, Corpsegrinder replied “Who wants to join my guild” following the song “Evisceration Plague.” As always, interacting with fans continued as Metal horns waved through the air into an assault of favorites such as “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled,” and “Make Them Suffer.” As the pits opened up into two, it could not be controlled as windmill kicks were abundant.
As the rampage moved on, crowd surfers joined in the action as the band played standouts like “I Cum Blood,” “A Skull Full of Maggots,” and “Sadistic Embodiment.” Sounding as intense as ever, the mixture of old school distortion with new school clarity is what really shined in Cannibal Corpse’s performance. The low-tuning shook the floor, literally making everoyne want to head-bang and become a primal beast, itching to conquer and rough house. Ending their reign for the night with “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Devoured by Vermin,” everyone was pushed to the point of exhaustion and ready for more. It is a testament to their longevity that Cannibal Corpse continues to perform with such venom night after night.
The time had come for the mighty Behemoth to take over Southern California. Selling out shows across the continent in 2014 with The Metal Alliance Tour, Poland’s Behemoth is one of the most iconic Black Metal bands to date. Growing from the vision of vocalist/guitarist Adam “Nergal” Darski, into a four-piece live band that features Zbigniew “Inferno” Prominski on drums, Tomasz “Orion” Wroblewski on bass, as well as Patryk “Seth” Sztyber on guitar, Behemoth are a force of nature, and The Observatory was about to find out why.
As each member walked onto the stage, tension grew as the ceremony began with the powerful song “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer.” Having conquered Leukemia in recent years, it is no wonder Nergal has a new sense of self-awareness simply asking the crowd, “Isn’t it wonderful to be alive?” Receiving a roaring response, the band wasted no time bringing on a full assault going into 2005’s “Conquer All.” Stimulating the audience’s adrenaline to a heightened level, the band offered up more new songs like “Ben Sahar.” Not skipping a beat with their showmanship, Behemoth’s theatrically exited after a period on stage, saw them return with a blessing pendulum that one would see at a church, and performed “Messe Noire.” Adding a flavor of mysticism and madness, as the music tempo slowed down, Nergal’s vocals remained guttural, only to progress to something that the listener could only comprehend as entering the mind of a madman.
Breaking up the non-stop pummeling, “In the Absence Ov Light” transformed a few minutes into the wonderfully dynamic acoustic instrumentation it is to wow the room. Completely taken by Behemoth’s attention to detail, the moments of tranquility were immediately swallowed once again by “Ov Fire and the Void,” “At the Left Hand Ov God ,” and the brutality of “Slaves Shall Serve.” As headbanging and moshing became unified throughout the set, the band changed up their typical order of songs as they played “Chant for Eschaton 2000” and finalized the night with “O Father O Satan O Sun.”
Simply said, Behemoth was brilliant. This band has been at this for almost twenty-five years, so needless to say they have a good idea on how to make their sound really stand out. While being manically heavy at times, it is their flare for live performances that really reflects their persona. Behemoth is a must see for any metalhead, so do not delay and get out there and see this tour before the Winter winds die out.
Reporting by Morgan Szufnarowski