The last night of January is notoriously cold, wet, and congested. As such, my trek to House of Blues (Dallas) was a dangerous one that caused me to work double time to contain my excitement amidst the clogged and alarmingly soaked freeways that lead from the west to the east side of the DFW Metroplex. My mission for the evening was clear- bear witness to the all-encompassing black metal brought to us by two legendary personifications of evil and majesty: Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse. I couldn’t have asked for a better assignment to kick off 2015’s slate of shows, and the pomp and circumstance delivered was beyond my wildest imagination.
Tribulation is an extremely groovy, throw-back style black metal band. I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a band whose image came straight from the early days of metal. This Swedish four-piece reminded me of a cross between Black Sabbath, Slayer, and At the Gates. Their luscious hair bounced vibrantly as they led the early gatherers through a cryptic, apropos list of somber black metal music. They were the perfect foundation to build the rest of the show upon, and it seemed almost flawless to transition from their performance to the performance of Aeon.
Aeon is fast approaching a strong decade mark in their careers. Their first massive tour in 2006 was opening for Cannibal Corpse, so it’s fitting that they would hit America again with the undisputed All-Fathers of metal. These guys know how to coax an audience, how to tease and pull until they get every ounce of energy from the audience. Aeon’s broken Eastern European accents lent themselves well to the vibe of the evening. Combine that with banshee-like shrieks and drum triggers that sounded like Thompson Sub-Machine Guns ripping through sheet metal and it was as if I’d opened a portal to the domain of Lucifer himself. Their accessible, heavy music had the circle pit opened nearly instantaneously. Their gregarious front man had many of the characteristics that one looks for in a metal front man: from pretending to sexually stimulate his microphone to leading overwhelmingly strong chants of “hey” this dude was the icing on the cake that was Aeon. My energy was at its peak when their music finally came to an end. Behemoth’s back drop was already hanging, their set pieces were moving, and the smell of incense and evil permeated every orifice available within House of Blues.
I was already in awe at the oncoming pagan orations from the priests of the Black One. The new stage set up that Behemoth unveiled for this tour really set the ambiance in a dark direction, and as Nergal led the opening verses of “Oro Pro Nobis Lucifer” I couldn’t help but crack a smile. When the last notes of their opener rang out, our circus leader bellowed one simple observation out to his gathered masses: “It’s so fucking good to be alive!!!” I had craved this moment for months now, and finally I was in the humbling presence of the wolf doing his best to coax and tantalize the sheep amongst us. By the third song, “Ben Sahar,” I had made my way to the back of the room to soak in the radiant energy in full. The song progressed and I took notice of a woman dancing, like an enchanted wood-nymph, carelessly flailing amongst the masses. She weaved just as much passion into the fabric of the night as any one; such was her immersion that it was as if Nergal himself was pulling her strings, like a contorted puppet master toying with his human marionette. Songs passed by like time was endless and all encompassing, and suddenly the bells rang out, a pagan thurible was brought forth to cleanse the air, and the summoning of the Dark Lord began in earnest. Behemoth’s relentless passion produced a worship-like atmosphere. Hands were raised, dancing became processional, and as the empowering “O Father! O Satan! O Son” bellowed into the evening, I could hardly contain myself. This climactic moment left the audience in awe, and in no time whatsoever Cannibal Corpse had their black backdrop raised. We had been led in song by the most maniacal music minister, and now it was time for the demonic sermon to be delivered.
The scent of sweat and blood had combined to instill a twisted blood-lust upon the unsuspecting crowd. The titans of death metal, Cannibal Corpse, let loose and decimated the weak with powerful windmill hair spins and the contorted orations of their front man, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. A brief word on the one known as Corpsegrinder: the man is an enigma. His stage presence is powerful and passionate, and he knows how to bridge the gap between his musicians and the audience. As intimidating as he might seem, and as grisly as his on-stage persona might be, he is one of the all-time nicest people in the metal industry. I’ve seen him take pictures with everyone, sign every autograph requested, and his deep love for metal is only surpassed by his deep love of his daughters. The man is a shining example for all metal musicians as to how to behave and treat those in the metal community as a whole. He is the perfect complimentary piece to the greater Cannibal Corpse machine. And he had me mesmerized from his first prolonged growl on until the end. The crowd was reveling in the passion and positivity coming from the band who recently celebrated their 26th year in existence, and such energy has gone unmatched in almost every concert I’ve ever witnessed. I was blown away by this show, from start to finish. Finally it was time for the demonic procession to draw to a close- a fitting end to a fantastic evening.
[ P H O T O G A L L E R Y ]
Photographs taken at House of Blues Dallas on January 31st of 2015 – Tribulation, Aeon, Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse
Disclaimer: All photographs are copyright Chantelle Renee Photography and cannot be used/cropped/printed without the consent of the owner.
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