February 22, 2016

Cannibal Corpse / Obituary / Cryptopsy / Abysmal Dawn, The Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia

February 15, 2016

Review and Photos by Joe Sullivan

CC Tour Poster 2


I couldn’t believe this when it was announced late last Fall! Who the fuck dreamed up this bill? It’s like a Death Metal heavyweight title fight card! In one corner you have Cannibal Corpse, the most successful Death Metal band in history with over 2 million albums sold. In the other you have Obituary, the Kings of Florida Swamp Death Metal. To round out the all Death Metal lineup, we also get Canada’s Cryptopsy and Californians Abysmal Dawn. Usually you have to suffer through some awful crap you don’t like (Between the Buried and Me anyone?) before you get to see the headliner, but not tonight, it’s just lights out skull smashing Death Metal! May the best band win! Ring the fucking bell! BRING THE SICKNESS!


Tonight’s show is at the Theater of the Living Arts (TLA) on South Street in Philly. The venue holds up to 800 people, and tonight we are close to a sell-out despite the shitty icy weather. Venue has plenty of pit, some seating upstairs, a few bars, and a good sized stage. Stage isn’t too high off the ground, maybe 3 feet, and there is a barrier so no stage diving. Sound quality is good and loud, no distortion problems. It wasn’t hot as hell in there tonight, so that was a plus. I prefer the Trocadero but the TLA is generally a good place for a metal show and Cannibal always does well here. Merch was outstanding! Obituary brought back their classic album cover shirts for the first 3 albums, a tour shirt, a bloodsoaked baseball jersey, a tour hoodie, a LEFT TO DIE banner, and more! Cannibal had multiple shirts, including a great BUTCHERED AT BIRTH long sleeve that I had to have (3X)! There was also a BUTCHERED AT BIRTH wall banner, nice. Cryptopsy and Abysmal Dawn also had shirts and albums for sale. If I had more money and closet space, I would have bought more shit. I saw lots of my metalhead friends at the show; no one was going to miss this insanity!




Led by Charles Elliott, Abysmal Dawn has been around for about 13 years now, finally getting some exposure the last few years supporting bigger Death Metal bands. Their most recent album is 2014’s OBSOLESCENSE, a good mix of old school and tech death. Charles (guitar, vocals), Eliseo Garcia (bass, backing vocals), James Coppolino (drums) and guitarist Allan Marcus took command of the stage and immediately won over the crowd. Their performance was riveting and intricate with good mid range growling from Charles and excellent solos from both Kragen and Charles. Eliseo occasionally provided some more guttural vox. Whole set was good; I especially liked “Inanimate” and “Human Obsolescence”. Great stuff. Crowd response was good with some moshing and the mood had been set for the evening.



  1. Programmed to Consume
  2. Inanimate
  3. Perfecting Slavery
  4. Human Obsolescence
  5. In Service of Time
  6. The Inevitable Return to Darkness








Canada’s Cryptopsy have gone through a lot of lineup changes since their 1994 debut BLASPHEMY MADE FLESH and their classic NONE SO VILE from 1996. The only original member left is drummer Flo Mounier and Lord Worm has been gone for years. I had never seen Cryptopsy before (I missed them last year when they came around with Disgorge) so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, me and the entire fucking crowd were pretty happy with the sick performance we got! Cryptopsy came out firing on all cylinders, stomping our guts out with blasting drums, heavy riffs, and guttural vox. Singer Matt McGachy delivered the goods, loud deep vocals with an occasional higher pitched scream. He was constantly moving, swinging his long hair, tearing up the stage. It was announced that tonight was guitarist Christian Donaldson’s birthday. The crowd gave him a nice ovation, sounding more like a howl for bloodlust than for wishing him a happy birthday! Set was brutal, featuring new material from their 2015 EP THE BOOK OF SUFFERING (TOME 1) and old classics like “Crown of Horns”, “Phobophile” and “Slit Your Guts” (people were calling for that one!). Heaviest set of the night and that’s saying something! People were starting to work themselves into a frenzy. More to come!

  1. Crown of Horns
  2. Mutant Christ / Gravaged
  3. Detritus (The One They Kept)
  4. Two-Pound Torch
  5. Halothane Glow
  6. Slit Your Guts
  7. Phobophile






For nearly 30 years, Obituary has been the epitome of Florida Death Metal, straightforward death, disease, despair, grinding guitars, and the best groans and screams the genre has to offer from one John Tardy. Strangely, the band had not played in Philadelphia in 6 years or so, so we were overdue! Obituary took the stage about 9:15 and started to pound us with their instrumental opener “Redneck Stomp”. Then John took the stage amid cheers, took the microphone, faced his brother Donald at the drum kit, and started belting out “Centuries of Lies”. New material from 2014’s INKED IN BLOOD was up first, which is a great album but we all wanted the classic stuff. Sound was damn near perfect. Trevor and Kenny’s low tuned guitars roll over you like a swamp of mud and gore, Terry’s thick bass is reverberating and powerful, and Donald’s drumming is steady. John’s vocals were great as usual; always audible above the din despite the fact that he often holds the mic away from his face. He is one LOUD dude! I did notice he was drinking a lot of water between songs and some songs didn’t have a lot of vocals, so I think as John approaches age 48 he is trying to pace himself and save his amazing voice. John looked a little thinner than he did last year and he didn’t run out of breath during the set this time. I still think he is the best Death Metal singer of all time and he is still the best on the planet now. His stage presence is cool but a lot different than it was 25 years ago. Now, he actually smiles and interacts with the crowd a bit. Back in the day, he looked and sounded like a being from another planet or dimension, and he appeared to be staring through you, into your soul! Ah, performers were so dead serious then!


Things got crazy when Obituary got to some CAUSE OF DEATH material, clearly their most beloved album. First up was “Dying”, which I had not gotten live in years, and it was superbly foreboding, building until John’s slow, last gasping vocals kicked in – “WE’RE DYING…..FOR OUR SOULS TO LEARN!” Awesome! Next we got a killer version of “Find the Arise” which got things moving, and then a bit later the one-two punch of “Chopped in Half”(FEEL THE BLOOD SPILL FROM YOUR MOUTH!) and “Turned Inside Out” broke the pit wide open and even at 43 years old I had to hammer some people! Other standouts included “Till Death”, which was sensational when maniacal (FIGHT TO THE DEATH!) and when fading out, and of course the savage closer “Slowly We Rot”, which is always fucking sick. No songs from THE END COMPLETE were played, but no one was complaining! In 50 minutes, Obituary had stolen the show and the crowd was buzzing about what they had witnessed. Cannibal Corpse had their work cut out for them!



  1. Redneck Stomp
  2. Centuries of Lies
  3. Visions In My Head
  4. Intoxicated
  5. Bloodsoaked
  6. Dying
  7. Find The Arise
  8. ‘Till Death
  9. Don’t Care
  10. Chopped in Half
  11. Turned Inside Out
  12. Slowly We Rot








Cannibal Corpse meant business. They dove right into “Evisceration Plague” and proceeded to tear our faces off! The band is an instrument of destruction, with all of the parts working in perfect unison. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher stood in the center of the stage, banging his head and delivering sick gutturals. The best headbanger of all time, his windmilling has given him a neck like a fucking rhinoceros. His vocals were loud, deep, and high pitched when called for. Alex Webster’s bass was distinct and intense; it’s fascinating just to watch his hands on the fret board. Guitarists Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett are master shredders and proficient soloers. Drummer Paul Makzurkiewicz always makes his presence felt, great blast beats and thudding rhythms. Deadly playing fast or slow, Cannibal went from the chaotic “The Time to Kill is Now” to the sludgy “Scourge of Iron” without missing a fucking beat. Things were off to a great start!


Cannibal is still supporting 2014’s A SKELETAL DOMAIN, so we got a triple shot of that about midway through their 80 min set (“Kill or Become”, “Sadistic Embodiment”, and “Icepick Lobotomy”). Highlights included “Covered With Sores” (BLEED ON ME! Haven’t gotten that since ’94 when Barnes was still in the band!), “The Wretched Spawn” (SPAWN OF THE WRETCHED, BORN OF THE RAPE!), “I Cum Blood” (DOWN HER THROAT, SWALLOW!), and “Devoured By Vermin”. Things were roughest during hits “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” and “Hammer Smashed Face”. Earlier in the set crowd surfers fell on my head twice (one time it was my buddy Josh!) but I shook it off and helped lift people up and over. Set was good but I’ve seen Cannibal 3 times in the past year and the set is getting a little too familiar. Couldn’t we get “Under the Rotted Flesh” from BUTCHERED AT BIRTH just once?


So the Cannibal set was solid, but Obituary wins the Death Metal Championship! What a sensational tour! No crap, no filler, it was like some of the tours I saw in ’93 and ’94. I struggled driving home in the ice and I had to be in work early the next day, but I didn’t give a damn! I had seen an excellent show of pure unadulterated Death Metal and I was fucking happy! The glow continues a week later for me! Catch this tour when it comes to your town, and you’ll leave battered and happy as I did!

  1. Evisceration Plague
  2. The Time to Kill Is Now
  3. Scourge of Iron
  4. Death Walking Terror
  5. Stripped, Raped and Strangled
  6. The Wretched Spawn
  7. Pit of Zombies
  8. Kill or Become
  9. Sadistic Embodiment
  10. Icepick Lobotomy
  11. Covered With Sores
  12. Born in a Casket
  13. I Cum Blood
  14. Unleashing the Bloodthirsty
  15. Make Them Suffer
  16. Hammer Smashed Face
  17. Devoured by Vermin








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