Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death at Fitzgerald's, 5/10/2013
By the time the clock struck 9 p.m. at Fitzgerald's on Friday night, it didn't appear possible to cram another black T-shirt into the place. Longhairs were already stacked up past the rafters inside the old club on White Oak, even as a steady stream of the same continued to file up the stairs.
Are there casual fans of death metal? I didn't see any on Friday. The Decibel Magazine Tour's opening night, featuring a fearsome triple stack of extreme-metal icons, was more than a concert to many of these folks. It was a celebration of an entire gore-obsessed lifestyle. Adherents showed up expecting the sickest, sweatiest, hairiest show of the year on Friday, and that was exactly what they got.
After Austin' Mammoth Grinder warmed the crowd up, New York death merchants Immolation arrived onstage to steamroll them flat. The band's punishing live chops have been honed by 25 years of shrieking and shredding, and they were fresh and ready to flay. As always, Immolation's set was highlighted by the astonishing riffage of guitarist Robert Vigna, for whom the term "ripping lead" must have been coined, specifically.
Decades after helping to codify the sound of death metal, Vigna is still managing to push his talent and technique into exquisite new contortions. On Friday, he sounded fierce.
When the band finished up its too-short set with "All That Awaits Us," the epic, final track from their brand-new album Kingdom of Conspiracy, it was hard to believe that the night's ferocity had only begun. Already, the funk of hundreds of metalheads smashed into one another was beginning to rise into the balcony, and with Napalm Death due up next, the intensity could only escalate.
Predictably, an outrageous mosh pit exploded in the middle of the packed floor as soon as Napalm struck their first mangled note. The action was equally intense onstage, where vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway managed to immediately take out a drum monitor in the tightly crowded space.
A less dedicated audience might have grown surly at the interruption as the band and its roadies struggled to right their equipment, but the crowd was all smiles, instead, chanting "Napalm Death! Napalm Death!"
The godfathers of grind soon rewarded their faithful scumdogs by destroying them with "From Enslavement to Obliteration," the breakneck title track from the group's second album. The mosh-pit survivors barely had a chance to catch their breath before Napalm lit into "Suffer the Children," which sent cascading waves of intrepid stage divers crashing into the faces of their fellow concertgoers.