August 17, 2016 Carcass Ambushes Gramercy Theatre NYC 8-4-16 w/ Crowbar, Ghoul & Night Demon
Going back to 1995, British Death Metal pioneers Carcass were saying their goodbye after a decade long run together. Brought on by issues with Columbia Records, who would end up shelving the band’s 1996 Swansong album for over a year after its completion, there was already internal rumbling the band was coming to an end. Sadly, Swansong was the end, and for intensive purposes, Carcass was dead. Then, to the surprise of many, 2007 saw the cadaver dug up, shaking off the graveworms to reunite Carcass again. A reunion inspired by former Guitarist Michael Amott, Carcass has been back on the scene with vengeance since and even released their first album in seventeen years back in 2013 with Surgical Steel.
That leads to present day where Carcass return to North America for more carnage on what they call the One Foot in the Grave Tour. Dissecting audiences as of July 17th, the tour was reaching its tail end when visiting New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on Thursday, August 4th, with direct support from Sludge Metal icons Crowbar, Ghoul, and Night Demon. A dark, twisted, evening of Extreme music glory, the billing drew a sold out audience full of eager Metalheads ready to unleash chaos.
As the platform was set for a darkened possession, it was time for Night Demon to take over. This trio out of Ventura, California formed in 2011 consists of Jarvis Leatherby (bass/vocals), Dusty Squires (drums), as well as Armand John Anthony (guitar) compiles influence from Iron Maiden, Metallica, Angel Witch along with the Punk band the Misfits. Led across North America as support for Raven in support of their self-titled 2013 EP, they soon signed a record deal with Century Media Records in 2014, and by 2015, their debut full-length album, Curse of the Damned, was unleashed to the Metal world.
With unique stage lighting that constantly changed, complemented by strobe lights for the darkened setting, Night Demon’s set began in dramatic fashion with “Ritual,” “Full Speed Ahead,” and “Curse of the Damned.” One with the music, Leatherby moved across the platform continuing to flow with a melodic groove through songs such as “Satan” before thanking the audience and going into “Screams in the Night” followed by their cover of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love.” Adding to the theatrics, a skeletal demon character walked out to perform a ritual, as though it was emerging from a crypt, during “The Chalice” and then seemingly the nightmarish imagery concluded the performance with “Night Demon.” For those who missed Night Demon, they more than likely have more live performances on tap prior to the new year.
Shifting from demons to concealed creatures from Creepsylvania, it was time for Ghoul to put on a blood-shedding performance. Creating a mix between Thrash and Death Metal since 2001, according to their Facebook page, there is simply no better description; “A Ghoul is a folkloric monster associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh and playing bone-snapping splatterthrash often classified as but not necessarily undead.” With that said, Ghoul hides their identity, covering their faces with blood stained potato-like sacks. This mysterious band is made up of Digestor (guitar/vocals), Dissector (guitar), Cremator (bass/vocals), Fermentor (drums/vocals), Baron Samedi (vocals/drugs), Mr. Fang (coffins/curiosity), and Kogar the Destructor (random voice/hype-thing). Ready to shock the audience, Ghoul was about to turn Gramercy Theatre upside down in support of their newly released album, Dungeon Bastards.
Like a B-rated Horror movie, the set began as members held out a news article, a large adult toy, and shortly began urinating blood toward the audience during “Ghoulunatics.” The set continued to move with a baby, skull, dictator, where each character shot blood at the crowd. As far as the music, it fervently moved with a classic Thrash style as Ghoul ran across the stage during “Brain Jerk,” “Word is Law,” and “Off With Their Heads.”
With fans in the first few rows now drenched with blood, Ghoul offered more brutality that created mosh pits during “Shred the Dead” and “Wall of Death.” As the band managed to have dead skulls, babies, chainsaws, and guns spewing out blood, they concluded with the ultimate finale on the track “As Your Casket Closes” as a shovel struck Fermentor’s head. All in All, Ghoul not only showcases talent, but their theatrical performance make it one memorable experience.
As the evening shifted from Horror to Doom, it was time for Sludge Metal masters Crowbar. Initially formed in 1989 down in New Orleans, Louisiana, they continue to pour out their own blood, sweat, and tears all these years later. Initially begun as a Punk meets Doom act, they are considered influential in the Sludge, Doom, and Stoner Metal subgenres. Releasing ten albums, with an eleventh one on its way in the near future, they have maintained a devoted fan base regardless of their lineup changes. The latest batch of members includes co-founding Guitarist/Vocalist Kirk Windstein, Guitarist Matt Brunson, Drummer Tommy Buckley (drums), and recently returned founding Bassist Todd Strange.
Kicking off their set with classics that included “Conquering” from 1996’s Broken Glass and “High Rate Extinction” from 1993’s Crowbar, long time followers could not be happier. Building momentum during the slow and doomy tracks, they moved to newer songs such as 2001’s “To Build a Mountain,” 2011’s “The Cemetery Angels,” and 2014’s “Walk With Knowledge Wisely.” Having everyone in a trance, Windstein showed appreciation to the audience before segueing into a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” as everyone sang along.
Concluding with “All I Had (I Gave),” “Planets Collide,” and “Like Broken Glass,” Crowbar practically played straight through, bombarding the audience with loud riffs, energetic bass, as well as drum lines with a powerful vocal delivery. Recently partaking in extensive touring, it was not too long ago they were overseas on a European tour. Hopefully once the touring schedule settles down, their awaited eleventh album will not be too far behind sometime in 2017.
Now overwhelmed with chaotic anticipation, it was time for Carcass to grace the stage with their Metal mastery. Founded in 1985, over the years they have become one of the most influential acts in Extreme Metal history. With so many subgenres of Metal ranging from Grindcore to Metalcore, the chaps in Carcass fancy themselves a Death Metal band, and are proud of it. Needless to say, they have impacted a great deal of bands in the first chapter of their career and perhaps even more so during the time they were away as the Melodic Death Metal genre continued to grow. Now having reclaimed their throne, old guard Bill Steer (guitar) and Jeff Walker (bass/vocals), along with newer members Daniel Wilding (drums) and Ben Ash (guitar) were ready to show New York City a bloody good time.
As the “1985” instrumental introduction hit, fans began screaming at the top of their lungs as Carcass entered, moving to “Unfit For Human Consumption” before 1993’s “Buried Dreams.” Technically only two songs deep, minus the introduction, Gramercy Theatre was already turned into a madhouse with crowd-surfers flying through the air during “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System.” Giving everyone a moment to catch their breath, Walker thanked the crowd, before they moved into another Surgical Steel offering, “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills.”
Continuously encouraging participation, Walker asked if anyone was in the audience that evening, as he taunted everyone to scream louder as they moved into “Captive Bolt Pistol.” It was after this the vocalist stated the band had performed in North America for three tour runs since dropping Surgical Steel. Quite a few times, he joked Carcass can simply not stay away from North America, but to be honest, no one minds because in the eyes of North Americans, it is making up for lost time.
Moving forward, Carcass took everyone back to the ’90s playing the older favorites, bringing on a medley begun with “Edge of Darkness” and flowing into “The Mortal Coil.” Rattling most of the room, at forty-seven years of age, Walker’s energy was on point as he demanded the audience, “Wake up, I am twice your age.” A shot to the arm of the youth in the audience, they went into a screaming frenzy shortly after when Carcass offered 1989 Symphonies of Sickness‘ cuts “Reek of Putrefaction” and “Exhume to Consume.” Reassuring fans more was to come, they went into a rendition of “Black Star” before introducing H.R. Giger’s manager Leslie Barany. A surprise to the audience, the mosh pit kept swooning as Walker briefly spoke of his friendship with Barany and invited him to sing along with “Keep On Rotting in the Free World.” A delightful moment in the show, the pit below continued to flood with crowd-surfers and the band’s energy was filled with headbanging and instrumental bliss before continuing with another splitting of tracks with “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” and “The Sanguine Article.”
Now with the evening reaching its end, Carcass focused on more older classics including “Ruptured in Purulence” and of course, “Heartwork.” Provoking everyone to go crazy, Walker smiled down on the chaos as Wilding ripped into a brief drum solo before finishing off “Heartwork.” As the music settled down following an outro of “1985,” fans screamed to hear more while Walker thanked the audience and he and bandmates threw guitar picks. Leaving the stage, Disco music ignited, however, the house lights were still off, leaving everyone with hope as they screamed for “one more song.” Sadly, the night was over, and the house lights turned, but it was a brutal evening no one would soon forget.
Carcass continues to put on a memorable show that pulverizes spectators. The best part is they do so while keeping the approach balanced; Heavy Metal and Rock-n-Roll mixed with Death Metal brutality. That said, they may playfully say they have one foot in the grave, but their flame is no way near done burning out and they still remain kings of Melodic Death Metal.