(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the performances by Cannabis Corpse, Withered, and Violated Flesh in Birmingham, England, on January 22, 2020, with video highlights.)
One of my resolutions for this year has been to go to more gigs. In fact I’ve already got several booked in for February and March, and another one to attend next week.
Sadly, however, the twin constraints of money and time mean I can’t go to every single show I’d like to, which is why I was forced to miss the Darkest Hour/Fallujah show in Manchester this week.
Thankfully, however, I’d already made firm plans to hit the Birmingham date of the Cannabis Corpse/Withered tour, which definitely helped ease the pain somewhat, especially since this would be my first time seeing Withered since way back in 2005!
Local openers Violated Flesh got off to a slightly rocky start (neither the sound nor the lighting seemed to be doing them many favours) but when the band finally settled into their groove (both figuratively and literally) both they and the crowd quickly warmed up.
Granted, the band still have a fair bit of growing and tightening up to do before they’re ready to take on the big boys (adding a live drummer would probably help – interested parties please get in touch) but they’ve clearly got a lot of love and enthusiasm for what they do, as well as a knack for laying down the sort of thick, chunky riffs that anyone with even a little bit of love for Death Metal can enjoy getting their teeth into.
When this tour was first announced I must admit I was a little sceptical as to how well the pairing of the next two bands would work out.
After all, Withered’s brand of grim, gritty, Blackened Death Sludge (patent pending) is worlds apart from the weed-fuelled, tongue-in-cheek vibe of Cannabis Corpse, and anyone expecting the two bands to share a similarly loose and fun-loving vibe would probably have experienced a rather sharp culture shock from the moment that set-opener “Like Locusts” snarled its way out of the speakers.
Thankfully I’ve been a big fan of the Atlanta, Georgia quartet for… christ, at least fifteen years now… so was more than prepared for the auditory filth they were about to spew.
Surprisingly, however, the band didn’t (if memory serves) play anything from 2016’s Grief Relic, and instead culled their short, savage set from their earlier material (I definitely remember them delivering a suitably nasty version of “Residue in the Void” and a sickeningly good rendition of “The Progenitor’s Grasp”, both from 2010’s underappreciated Dualitas) as well as a furious run-through of their latest single “Somnium Decay” (which you can check out below).
An absolutely gruesome delight from start to finish, tonight’s set reminded me just how great Withered are, both live and on record, as well as how infuriated I am that they’ve never received the attention and acclaim they deserve!
Still, there’s definitely time to correct that error, so if you haven’t given the band a chance before now you should do so ASAP.
After hanging out with the Withered crew for a while, shooting the shit and drinking whiskey, I ended up catching Cannabis Corpse a few songs into their set, and, let me tell you… I was impressed.
Yes, on paper the band’s Stoner-Death gimmick – complete with weed-based puns on classic Death Metal song titles and a random appearance by someone in a “weed monster” costume during the set’s final song – sounds like it would get old pretty fast (especially for someone who doesn’t partake themselves) but the material itself is consistently strong enough, not to mention addictively catchy enough, to make this seem less contrived and more… dare I say it… fun?
It helps, of course, that the band themselves clearly love what they do, and display great reverence (as well as just the right amount of irreverence) for the classics, making tracks like “Where the Kind Live”, “Cylinders of Madness”, and “Blunted at Birth” exceptionally enjoyable slabs of Death Metal in their own right.
Take it from me, Cannabis Corpse are much better, much heavier, and much more “legit” than their jokey nature might suggest. They’ve got the riffs, they’ve got the chops, and they’ve got the attitude, and are well worth checking out live if/when you get the chance to do so!