Carcass @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (9/6/2008)

Logo - Carcass

Artist: Carcass
Venue: Nokia Theater (New York, NY)
Opener: Suffocation, The Aborted, Necrophagist, 1349, Rotten Sound
Date: 9/6/2008
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

The summer still had a few weeks left to go before the fall would offer our region some much needed relief from the stifling heat that we had this particular summer season and based on this it made sense that one of the year’s hottest tickets would take place before it closed out. The killer show that I am talking about is none other than the reunion jaunt of the mighty Carcass – the absolute legends of the Grindcore scene and pretty much the reason that the whole genre came about in the first place. The hotter than Hell bill for this event was labeled as the “Exhumed To Consume” tour and not only would it feature Suffocation, 1349, The Aborted, Necrophagist and Rotten Sound as the openers but it would also come to the Big Apple hand in hand with Hurricane Hanna. Readers should know that I don’t mean some sort of female wrestler but instead a super powerful storm system that had been making the news for days before it hit us. Luckily, those who actually had tickets for the long sold out event would be safe inside the depths of the Nokia Theater in Times Square. The doors opened for the venue at around 6:30 to my knowledge but the first band would not go on for another hour. That’s a lot of time to wait around the Nokia, and with six bands in total on the bill this was looking to be a very long night of Metal. Here is how the evening went down for those who missed it.

Rotten Sound: I managed to get inside from the downpour of rain outside just in time to see Rotten Sound taking the stage. It would be my first time catching them so I had nothing to go by this evening and chose to use that whole open minded view when this is the case. As I watched them do their thing I realized that they were also a Grindcore band and that they hailed from Finland. They didn’t sound bad at what they were doing and those who had arrived early seemed to be enjoying themselves during their short set. The band is signed to Spinefarm Records and their latest album is called “Cycles”. Musically I could agree that they took a similar stand to bands like Napalm Death and chose to deliver their lyrics with a socio-political nature. Good stuff, and I would like to get a chance to see them again when a longer set can be enjoyed. 1349 was up next and I was already a fan of what they do so was happy to see them on the bill.

1349: While I missed the bands headlining appearance at the neighboring B.B. King Blues Club last year, I had been blown away by what I saw when the band opened up for Celtic Frost during that bands own quasi-reunion tour. I say “quasi” as CF was again touring but minus one of their pivotal lineup members. Their display of True Norwegian Black Metal was something to behold and yet while they were on top of their game in terms of the delivery, I did not find myself thinking that their sound had the same buzz saw effect that had sliced into the dark souls of the Metal faithful that night. That is an issue I have at the Nokia sometimes, and this is the unevenness of the mix coming out of the PA. Sometimes the band sounds better in the monitors that from the overheads but despite this the guys were as intense as I had hoped they would be. There’s never a smile on any of the members faces when this band plays and instead they pummel the listener’s senses with riff after riff. Fans of the Symphonic Black Metal are advised to stay away from 1349 as there isn’t any of that present and instead just a pure Black Metal vibe. Ravn, their singer, stalks the stage and has a truly maniacal gaze to him that you almost try to look away from if you are too close. Sadly their set was only thirty minutes but I was able to capture a shot of their set list which included “Riders Of The Apocalypse”, “Nathicana”, and “Chasing Dragons” along with “I Am Abomination”. Next up was The Aborted.

The Aborted: It was only a couple of months ago that I last saw The Aborted and that was for the Summer Slaughter tour that found them on a bill with ten other bands. That’s too much for me in a single sitting but the event was pretty good when it came down to it. The band hails from Belgium and while I enjoyed them that night for some reason tonight they were just not winning me over. Perhaps it was because I was floored by the delivery of the previous 1349 set or perhaps it was the building excitement that Carcass was all the more closer, I did not try to work out what the issue was. Of course they were into it on the stage and there were fans of theirs in the audience who had begun diving over the barrier by this point of the night. The band was now officially supporting their release “Strychnine.213” which comes care of Century Media Records and they did sound tight. My hope is to see them a little farther down the road on a less packed bill to see what my own final view is. Either way, they did deliver, and that’s what matters the most.

Necrophagist: My first time seeing Germany’s own Technical Death Metal masters and I had no real depth on them either this evening. However, they managed to hit me instantly with the aggressive level of complex Metal that they were doing and the quality in which it was being done so I can safely say that I am going to actively be looking for their music soon. The band is led by singer and guitarist Mohammed Suicmez who is rather adept at both the growling and the technically impressive guitar runs that the band requires of him. Their Relapse Records artist and their last album on the label is called “Epitaph”. The band has a new one coming out in 2009 but no title has been disclosed. If you like your Metal with an Extreme flair and a super charged dose of Tech-Mayhem, then do yourself a favor and look deeper into Necrophagist. This was good stuff and I was impressed. Suffocation was up next as the direct support main act for the tour and by this point any latecomers were well in place for where they wanted to be as this band hit the stage.

Suffocation: This band is pretty much New York’s own kings of Death Metal and for almost twenty years they have turned brains into ooze with the extremely intense brand of sound that they have. They deserve the respect of anyone who proclaims themselves to be a fan of Extreme Metal and that’s what made their appearance on the Carcass tour all the more worthwhile for many. Yes, it was cool to know and be at the Carcass show, but how cool was it to see Suffocation on a stage like the Nokia in their home town. They hail from Long Island actually but that doesn’t matter when it comes to a major venue appearance in the city. The guys are a hurricane on the stage from the moment they get on the boards and led by Frank Mullen who almost always sports a maniacal grin. He is insane to watch and not only does he often pause to thank the fans for their endless support of the efforts, he just manages to get you more into the music with his gestures. As far as I could see over the crowd their were fans doing Frank’s signature “hand chop” motion and I had to say that while it amused me, you know the singer had to see some of that from his spot and amused him as well. I’m really terrible at this bands song titles but was too busy enjoying myself and the vibe of the venue to mark down anything. I had heard some harder core fans mention near me that this was mostly newer stuff as opposed to the bands established classics in their eyes, but that happens from time to time and remember these guys need to sell albums to keep working. It was a really dominating set list though and officially the most energetic of the evening. Yes, this was a Carcass reunion gig, but Suffocation’s overall delivery was going to make these guys be on top of their game from the moment they came on. The other news was that Suffocation had now signed to Nuclear Blast Records and would be releasing new material sometime in 2009, and now the moment that everyone had been waiting years for – the live reunion appearance of Carcass.

Carcass: During the bands heyday I have to say that I wasn’t really following the stuff that Carcass was all about because based on the classic Metal which I leaned to, this super fast and grinding stuff was a little bit too much for me to handle. Of course as time passed by and many bands took from their influences and achieved greatness on their own I eventually was able to see where the bands own relevance came into play and that made the reunion tour and exciting event to be taking part in. The reunion of the guys was interesting because with the absence of their original drummer Ken Owen, the band had enlisted the talents of Arch Enemy’s own Daniel Erlandsson. Owen had suffered a brain hemorrhage back in 1999 and while largely recovered from this after a 10 month coma, there is no way he would be able to partake in a Metal tours grueling daily regimen. Back in the band for the shows was also guitarist Mike Amott who after leaving Carcass had eventually formed Arch Enemy – a band that was a logical progression from his work in the now legendary Grindcore outfit. With these pieces in play the guys hit the stage on a relatively non descript stage setting, but one that had lots of different gory sequences showing up on the screen behind them. Singer and bassist Jeff Walker talked to the crowd a lot this evening and thanked them for their interest and attention to what they were doing. It was rather amusing to notice how the musician was wearing a shirt that said “Rock Against Earache”, which was the bands label before their apparently new affiliation with Nuclear Blast Records. Some might have thought this funny, but I had to admit that based on the former label just releasing some really quality remastered editions of the bands catalog that this was a little unnecessary. Of course, who knows what real mechanics are involved between the label and band relations when it comes down to it. Performance wise the band was going through all of their releases and it seemed that a little more attention was paid to the bands magnum opus of “Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious”. That made sense considering the amount of reverence that this particular album receives across the Metal community.

Carcass had hit the stage at about 11:30 and that was odd for this particular venue as normally all events have long cleared out by then, but tonight this would not be the case. Everyone was on fire in the band and with Amott and Erlandsson being in another band together these days, there was an unmistakable lock to their delivery. Bill Steer was great to see in action again doing Metal because the last I had heard from him was Firebird, where he was doing more of a 70’s Classic Rock thing. The surprise came to New York when Walker discussed one of the reasons for the band reuniting in the first place and that was the recovery of former drummer Owen who suddenly appeared behind Daniel’s drum kit where he delivered a very brief drum solo. He didn’t do bad for someone who had recovered from such an injury and one had to admire that. After this display he came out to the front to wave to the fans closer and Walker smiled as he said into the microphone “give a guy an inch eh”…..From there Daniel was back on his drums that had a great image painted on them citing “In Grind We Trust” and after a few more numbers the mayhem filled evening was over.

It was clearly a good time for all who had managed to attend the show on this rainy hurricane night and now with the hour being just short of 1am in the morning I walked out of the venue to a clear night sky. My guess was that there was just too much Metal for the likes of Hurricane Hanna to deal with, so she chose the best option and got out of town before Carcass was done. A smart move if you ask me. The band will be continuing the trek for several more nights and there are plans for some Festival appearances next year. I am unaware of any new recordings being in the planning stages but one can always hope for that based on the response that they received for this run of shows. Perhaps at least a live DVD with some documentary footage about the reunion tour.

Carcass Setlist:
1. Intro Tape
2. Inpropagation
3. Buried Dreams
4. Corporal Jigsore
5. Carnal Forge
6. Incarnate Solvent Abuse
7. No Love Lost
8. Edge Of Darkness
9. This Mortal Coil
10. Embodiment
11. Reek Of Putrefaction
12. Keep On Rotting
13. Genital Grinder
14. Rotten To The Gore
15. Death Certificate
16. Exhume To Consume
17. Ruptured (Intro)
18. Heartwork
19. Carneous (Outro)

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