Friday 22 January 2016


This day began for me when I left work in Toowoomba to get the 2pm Greyhound bus to Brisbane, 127 km away. I booked into the Clayfield Airport Motel first and then around 6.30pm I took the suburban train the seven stations south to South Brisbane to go to see the CANNIBAL CORPSE show. I had to walk 20 minutes from the South Brisbane train station. At the show venue on Boundary Road in West End night had nearly fallen ("darkness was descending"!). There was a line-up of around sixty people going back 30 metres along the side street. This was an 18+ venue but the great thing about legendary metal bands such as CANNIBAL CORPSE is you get a crowd ranging from 18-year-olds up to mid-forties. The fat and greying mid-forties crew are the ones wearing jeans and with the bald heads and the Kerry King beards (not to be confused with Viking beards). Unlike at an AC/DC show or STATUS QUO show you don't get anyone that looks above 45-years-old - the mid-forties crowd are the same age as the CANNIBAL band members. Clearly these ageing veterans such as myself "were there in 79 when the dam began to burst". "We were wearing denim, wearing leather and we ran down to the front". We were around 20 years old when the first great CANNIBAL CORPSE album Eaten Back to Life was released in 1990. Some of us even remember the demo! Some of us even believe CANNIBAL CORPSE never released a better album than that first one with its charm, innocence, high-school boy humour, and thrash-metal influences. After that it just got a little too serious. I stood in line at the Hi-Fi bar and was talking to a smooth-faced 18-year-old. In usual life people of my age and people of his age just don't have the same set of friends and we don't hang out together. Metal can bring such people together (or maybe we just talked because we were in the same bar queue).

CANNIBAL: Webster, Paul M., O'Brien, Fisher, Barrett
The first band on the three-band bill was ENTRAILS ERADICATED at 8pm. The venue was still not too crowded so I got right up the front one person back from the security railing during this band's set. I thought the band was very good - the guitar player was doing so many technical things non-stop from just right in front of me and his play was clearly an important factor in the band's overall sound. The vocalist did mainly shrieks mixed up with some death growls and the guitarist did some death growls as well. This band has a flow and a sense of song that I like. They probably had the hardest job going up first when the crowd was smallest. The band managed to generate a lot of energy and enthusiasm despite these factors.

DISENTOMB was next up on the bill. When this band started I headed back to the bar to get a second can of Carlton Draught. The bar queues were four to six people long most of the night so it took a while. After getting a beer I headed to the three merchandise tables. I bought an ENTRAILS shirt for AUD20. The CANNIBAL CORPSE tour shirts were AUD40 for the short-sleeve, AUD50 for the long-sleeve and I think AUD70 for the hoodies and I just didn't have these amounts of money with me. I watched the second half of the DISENTOMB set from near the front and slowly I edged my way up closer. I really hoped to be right up the front for CANNIBAL CORPSE. It really looked like this goal was possible. DISENTOMB played straight-up brutal death-metal and to me I preferred ENTRAILS but I talked to other people who preferred DISENTOMB. I don't quite understand this band name DISENTOMB. Does this mean after ENTOMBED entombs someone DISENTOMB will take that person back out of the tomb? Is that how it works? I guess that would leave you in the same position as you started from but a bit dirtier!

CANNIBAL with Jack Owen (top left)
At the end of the DISENTOMB set two guys who were right up the front headed back most likely to go to the bar and I quickly went in and took their spot. I think in these places you can't really claim your spot. It's not like in a pub or a restaurant or a seated-only football game: if you leave your spot it will get taken. We all waited for CANNIBAL CORPSE to appear. The curtain came down so the band could get set up without the crowd watching. By this time there was probably 300-400 people in the standing-only venue and the mosh pit up front was getting full. People were chanting for CANNIBAL and getting more excited. The band was due to play from 10pm to 11.20pm which would mean around 22 songs at an average of four minutes per song.

Then the curtain went up and the four CANNIBAL CORPSE band members except the drummer were all lined up in a row ready to play. ENTRAILS and DISENTOMB both have four band members and so the stage looked more empty when they were playing. It was a surprise not to see Jack Owen up there. Obviously I know he has been playing with DEICIDE for a number of years now but he was part of the visual image of CANNIBAL for a long time. He is in many of the band pictures that you still can find on the internet (with his bald head and his Kerry King beard)! It seems to be standard now for Rob Barrett to be on the left, Webster second left, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher third from left, and Pat O'Brien on the right on the stage (i.e. left or right from the perspective of the crowd). I was on the railing on the left side directly in front of Rob Barrett and close to Webster. I could not see drummer Paul M. because he was blocked from my view by Webster's body. It was also hard for me to see O'Brien up the far end. The circle pit started up in the centre but it did not reach where I was over on the left. There were three security guards in the no-go zone between the railing and the stage. It was a small stage raised maybe 1.5 metres above the floor. When the circle pit started the security guards would grab the surfers and then drop them into the no-go area and then push them away to the sides.

I don't recall or even know all the songs the band played. One surprise was "Covered in Sores" from Butchered at Birth (1991) which is really quite a boring album in my view. This song did not really excite anyone very much. Most of the songs played were the fast ones and these were the most popular. Songs played included: "I Cum Blood", "The Time to Kill is Now", "I will Kill You", "The Wretched Spawn", "Priests of Sodom", "As Deep as the Knife will Go", and of course "F***ed with a Knife" and "Hammer Smashed Face". No CANNIBAL show could ever be played without those two last mentioned songs and they still remain the two most interesting and enjoyable songs that the band plays live. Corpsegrinder introduced "F***ed with a Knife" by dedicating it to "all the ladies, women, bitches in the house". This song is one of the best live songs by the band as it has tempo changes, instrumental parts, and blast-beat enjoyment. "As Deep as the Knife will go", from the new album Torture (2012), is also an outstanding faster song and it was very well received by the crowd. The two "knife songs" (with the word "knife" in the song titles) were played back-to-back. Corpsegrinder was also telling the front row they were there not for "watching" so they should be either crowd surfing or head-banging. However, he warned the crowd surfers not to invite him to crowd surf as he was going to be far too heavy for them, "I guarantee you that" he said! I admit to "watching" because it is rare to get a chance to watch the band play so close up and Webster's bass skills are really a thrill to watch. At another point in the show the "Corpsegrinder" chant went up and he responded with a mock-polite "Well, thank you" which managed to be both serious and ironic at the same time!

It was amazing to see Alex Webster close up. His left hand moves up and down and across the fretboard at amazing speed. He uses his right fingers and not a guitar pick. Although CANNIBAL cannot be called a technical band Webster is a technical bass player. Rob Barrett, the rhythm guitarist, was also great to watch. He joined the band in 1993, left in 1997, and rejoined in 2005. In 1992 he played lead guitar on the MALEVOLENT CREATION album Retribution. This night he wore a MALEVOLENT CREATION tee-shirt. Certainly Barrett has a great history of being part of the original Florida death scene of the early-1990s as both a fan and a performer. All the band members wore black jeans and black band tee-shirts. They looked very different from the two early bands whose members wore the trendy modern gear of green army shorts and Viking beards (not to be confused with a Kerry King beard as I explained earlier). The CANNIBAL members showed how old-school they are because no-one wore shorts in the 1980s in the metal scene. You had to suffer for metal in that era wearing jeans and leather or denim jacket on the hottest of days! Yes, green army shorts, black-metal and Viking tee-shirts and Viking beards are trendy among the 20-somethings in the Australian metal scene! It is possible to have and follow trends in the metal world as well as in the broader society. 

CANNIBAL heads to Indonesia next (Jakarta & Solo)
Corpsegrinder promised us one last song and of course it was "Hammer Smashed Face" and everyone enjoyed this totally. Of course he could not promise one song and only give us one. There was another song played after "Hammer Smashed Face" and then the band left the stage. Alex Webster came down and walked along the no-go area and shook hands with all the people in the front row including myself. He is a shy guy and when he plays you can't see his face because his hair covers it. Once or twice people shouted out his name and he gave a shy thumbs-up gesture.

I was standing next to a crazy guy who had the Worm Infested album cover tattooed on his back. (I don't know whether he was a "tattooed millionaire", but probably not.) He got security to allow him into the no-go area during the show and he showed his back to the crowd and to the band. The security guy seemed to be happy when this guy showed his tattoo to the crowd but he was not not so happy when the guy tried to show it to the band! Another guy showed me a Butchered at Birth foetus tattoo on his left leg (kind of a "dying fetus" I guess). CANNIBAL fans are amazing for their devotion.

Yes I enjoyed the show but I could not help feeling slightly bored at hearing so many songs by this band. There was not much variety or different passages. If VADER is your Mom's home-cooked best meal then CANNIBAL is a Big Mac McDonald's value meal - totally American, totally uniform and processed, and just a little bit dull on occasion. However, people support CANNIBAL for the overall package of artwork, lyrics, songs, and stage performance and this package is still effective and still delivers 20 years on. It was amazing to be so close to such legendary figures in the metal scene. The band puts up a flawless and very professional performance and I guess if anyone has done exactly the same job every year for 20 years that is just what we should expect! Catch CANNIBAL at a town near you! If you don't see the band it will return, as I think the band will keep the shows and albums coming until at least the members reach the regular retirement age of 65 years or whatever it is in the USA!

Old-school truck with "1987" written on back, Jakarta
After the show I took a train from South Brisbane which went through the city centre and stopped at Bowen Hills. I had to get to Eagle Junction station, three stops further up the line. I saw that the early morning trains only run on Friday nights and the last train to Caboolture via Eagle Junction had gone past me before 12am. At Bowen Hills platform I saw it was 12.17am. I decided I would have to walk in the darkness "on through the night" back to Eagle Junction station and I thought it might take one to two hours. I walked along the side of the highway for 600 metres all alone in the darkness as at 1am on a Tuesday morning the mega-city of Brisbane sleeps ("at dawn they wake up"). I walked under a dark underpass and I thought "I hope I don't end up like a character in a CANNIBAL CORPSE song". No, not "Devoured by Vermin"! It might instead have been some combination of "Nothing Left to Mutilate", "Blunt Force Castration" and "Rotted Body Landslide"! Just as I exited the underpass I spotted a cab and he stopped for me. I had $6 in my pocket and $10.20 back at the hotel. I wondered if I would make it back to the hotel for a fee of $16.20 in total or less. In the end the trip cost me $16, perfect. I had been willing to walk two hours back to
the hotel if necessary. I guess you have to be willing to suffer for metal. A girl who looked like a hooker asked me for directions at the Bowen Hills train station but when I saw her again on the street she wouldn't talk to or look at me. This really happened. I guess she was worried I might [insert CANNIBAL CORPSE song title here]. But, just like the band members (OK, to be fair, Webster is as slim today as he ever was), I'm only a harmless, fat, grey-haired, and aging metalhead from that strange place called "The 1980s" who would never hurt a fly (on the wall)! [By Kieran James, 9 October 2012].

CANNIBAL CORPSE 1994 with Chris Barnes (centre)

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