Such was the case at the Paradise Thursday night when death metal legends Obituary and Cannibal Corpse packed the Commonwealth Avenue venue. Cannibal Corpse is no stranger to the city—it played House of Blues two years ago with Behemoth—but seeing it at an intimate venue like the Dise was a real treat for Boston metalheads. With Obituary joining the band on the bill, it was a no-brainer for any self-respecting headbanger to get their ass there.
Florida is often criticized as a cultural wasteland filled with retirees, drifters, and tourists, but born out of that sociological scrap heap was some of the world’s most intense and influential death metal. At the forefront of the early ’90s Florida death metal movement was Obituary, and it gave a punishing reminder of just why it is credited with helping launch that legendary scene.
In a nod to its Southern roots, the band opened its hour-long set with the dirgey instrumental “Redneck Stomp.” From there, it went to its 2014 album, Inked in Blood, with the crushing “Visions in My Head.” The song was a reminder that like Cannibal Corpse, the band continues to churn out vintage metal that stands up well next to its classic early material. Other highlights were the 1994 nihilist’s anthem “Don’t Care” and the awesome “Slowly We Rot” from the 1989 debut of the same title.
Cannibal Corpse, led by gargantuan frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, is one of the most controversial bands in history thanks to its shocking, gory, and often sacrilegious album artwork, song titles, and lyrics. It’s been banned in Germany, Australia, and Russia, and was the target of congressional censorship hearings in the ’90s right here in good ol’ America.
Unlike Obituary, Cannibal Corpse has never gone on hiatus and has released 14 albums over the past 25 years. Thursday it pulled from many of those albums, mixing classic shockers like “I Cum Blood” and “Make Them Suffer” with newer fare like “Evisceration Plague” and “Icepick Lobotomy.” “Kill or Become,” from 2014’s A Skeletal Domain, has become a set staple with its gang-chant-ready chorus “fire up the chainsaw / cut their fucking heads off.” (Horror fans will dig the song’s uber-violent zombie video.)
Other fan favorites included “Covered with Sores” from 1991’s Butchered At Birth, “Devoured by Vermin,” and of course, “Hammer Smashed Face,” the song the band infamously played in a cameo in Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
It was a killer old-school death metal one-two punch that was great to see, especially since Worcester has stolen a lot of Boston’s thunder in the metal community. But this show was another welcome reminder that Boston is home to legions of loyal headbangers and will always support great metal.