- Review by Faye Coulman
REVIEWED: Cannibal Corpse + Dark Funeral + Ingested @ O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
On a bill that sees the lethal, groove-laden battery of UK slam kings Ingested sharing space alongside the coldly lacerating carnage of Dark Funeral together genre-defining death metal legends Cannibal Corpse, it’s tricky to fathom precisely what prompted this rather stylistically disparate selection of extreme metal talent. Indeed, glancing around at the randomised bunch of wifebeater-clad skinheads, gothic couples, middle-aged dads and sullen teens having been all but virtually shoehorned into the heavily populated venue, the various, wildly differing stratifications of metal fan are all too keenly apparent here. That said, it’s a nevertheless fine testament to the incredibly diverse shape of extreme metal circa 2023, as well as the unparalleled prestige attached to each and every one of tonight’s forthcoming performances – which is, of course, the precise reason we find ourselves here tonight in amongst the immense, teeming throng of punters currently pushing and jostling their way toward the Forum’s predictably packed-out bar.
With our quest for a pint of financially crippling, substandard lager finally fulfilled, it’s with jaw-dropping speed and efficiency that hardcore-laden aggressors INGESTED set about bludgeoning the unsuspecting early crowd into submission. Armed with an insanely energised onslaught of gargantuan, brutally churning groove and frantically accelerating blasts that illustrate aggression and tautly manipulated precision in equal, finely calculated measure, frontman Jason Evans is a joyously unhinged, whirling dervish of a stage presence. Dominating every conceivable inch of surrounding space, his corrosive vocal repertoire finds a deliciously tortured climax in amongst the thunderously percussive throes of ‘Invidious’.
By turns caustic and unrelenting, frantically bludgeoning and darkly enveloping, nothing quite compares to DARK FUNERAL’s endlessly lacerating live spectacle. And as the intensely foreboding proclamation: “God is not here…” crackles ghoulishly over the PA in amongst airily spectral flurries of ambient noise, it’s with frantic, spinal cord-snapping momentum that we’re plunged headlong into the pulverising, wintry contortions of ‘Nosferatu’. With its humongous slabs of sinewy, subterranean groove substantial enough to level whole civilisations, theirs is a sound gloriously awash with apocalyptic grandeur, its impeccably sculpted strains of densely muscled fretwork writhing and contorting with perverse, pitch-black elegance. Then, via a single, ghoulishly elongated scream, we’re propelled forth into the ceaselessly battering percussive core of ‘Attera Totus Sanctus’ as a machinegun-paced slew of multidirectional blasts and searing lashings of tremolo assail the senses from every imaginable angle.
But for all the brain-liquefying levels of frenzied, intensely visceral aggression being showcased here in rich, unrelenting abundance, the Swedes’ adrenaline-fuelled repertoire is one equally drenched in coldly entrancing atmosphere together with an aura of death tangible enough to chill the very marrow in our bones. Indeed, from the raggedly scabrous yet ornately twisted arpeggios and ghoulishly discordant vocalisations of ‘My Funeral’ to the elegantly unfurling lines of darkly meditative riffery that reside in ‘When I’m Gone’, these various, sweepingly majestic, intricately layered and frequently nightmarish energies elevate Dark Funeral’s sound to something quite removed from this mortal realm. And what a joyously sinister, apocalyptic glimpse into the abyss it is!
“Ya’ll just got your asses kicked by a 52-year-old,” cackles George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher as he gives his London audience a liberal, good-natured ribbing over their inability to keep pace with the towering and relentlessly energetic icon of a frontman presently standing before them. But while CANNIBAL CORPSE's globally beloved main man may be widely known for his playful and warmly affable good humour, there is, rest assured, no trace of such humanity to be found in the brutally hammering and entrail-festooned carnage crowning tonight’s brutally compelling bill. As blinding flurries of flickering strobes and expansive swathes of blood-red lighting spill forth in a rich, darkly congealing profusion across the shadowy expanse of the stage, the mammoth, brutally chugging grooves of ‘Scourge of Iron’ seize instant, lethally compelling hold of the senses. Through a manic blur of frantically windmilling, hair-flailing motion, Corpsegrinder and co. amass staggering levels of acceleration through densely packed clusters of percussive blasts that, together with generous lashings of searing, scalpel-eged tremolo, strike a skilfully engineered balance of abject brutality and calculating control. Having bulldozed the audience into submission within literal seconds of this ceaselessly pulverising assault, ‘Inhumane Harvest’ is audibly teeming with a myriad shades of gratuitous ultra-violence, its crippling slabs of churning bass and corrosive screams conjuring up carnage of the most nightmarish and gore-laden character imaginable.
From the merciless, synapse-scorching grind and sound barrier-shattering blasts of the not-so-charmingly titled ‘Fucked With A Knife’ to the raggedly scabrous, chainsawing riffage and nightmarishly lurching bass work of ‘I Cum Blood’, tonight’s setlist is pleasingly furnished with a sizeable quantity of genre-defining classics. Together with an additional slew of present-day bangers, ‘Necrogenic Resurrection’ illustrates superior levels of razor-keen precision and whiplash-inducing speed throughout its numerous episodes of blackly reverberating distortion and keenly agile lines of tremolo riffery.
With Cannibal Corpse’s long-reigning campaign of carnage only gathering still greater momentum into the band's 35th year of existence, tonight’s utterly obliterating turn in the capital finds these death metal legends on gloriously gratuitous, razor-sharp form.