Destroyers Of The Faith – Cannibal Corpse + Triptykon + Enslaved + Job For A Cowboy @ HMV Institute (Library), Birmingham – Sunday 11th March 2012

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Review by Chop

You’ve got to hand it to Metal Hammer. They’ve got their finger on the pulse and know how to deliver the festivals and gigs that fans want to see. If you’ve ever been to Prestatyn for Hard Rock Hell or Hammerfest you’ll know what a shindig they turn out to be. Not forgetting of course their considerable involvement and support for Bloodstock Open Air. Or Download. On the indoor front, first there was Defenders Of The Faith, the third instalment of which rolled into a town near you just before Christmas. For those of a darker, more extreme, persuasion, the inaugural Destroyers Of The Faith had the potential to wreak the maximum amount of carnage.

Having no doubt laid waste to Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, and London on the previous nights, the last date of the tour arrived in Brum. A packed house was waiting expectantly for the mayhem to start. Job For A Cowboy had impressed on their last tour, holding off a spirited attempt from main support Whitechapel. My positioning in the venue, I suspect, wasn’t the best, as the sound was sludgy to put it mildly, thin guitars completely dominated by a triggered double bass shell onslaught. Audience response seemed polite rather than enthusiastic. They were comfortable enough on stage, as ever ably led by vocalist Jonny, and tight enough as a band. Hopefully they’ll return soon to promote imminent new album Demonocracy, when a prime listening spot will be my obvious priority…

Having seen the remaining three bands at Bloodstock over the last few years, how their prowess would transfer to a far smaller, although clearly more intimate, setting was an intriguing prospect. Having worked my way into my usual viewing position, sound issues were but a distant memory,  crystal clear yet punishingly loud, topped off with a bull whip of a snare tone, as Enslaved played a forty minute set that was nothing short of mesmerising. ‘Ethica Odini’ was a stunning opener, ‘Giants’ (dedicated to the crew) coupled crushing doom riffs with progressive phases of startling complexity, and closer ‘Isa’ was jaw dropping. Aside from the somewhat surreal inclusion of a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ – well as it worked – the forty minutes they were on stage were flawless. Enslaved fused elements of thrash, doom, folk, black metal, and modern prog, and created song after grandiose song that combined groove, power, and melody in equal measure. All in all an utterly incredible set.

Technical issues (mainly involving non-functioning foldbacks) caused a lengthy delay before Triptykon finally appeared. ‘Eparistera Daimones’ was, by some considerable distance, my favourite album of 2010, dark, brooding, and utterly skull-crushing in its heaviness. The tone of the guitars was rich yet slicing, and everything was set for a display of the utmost intensity. Oddly it didn’t materialise until midway through a crushing version of ‘Circle Of The Tyrants’, which was a pity as ‘Goetia’ had preceded it. The second half of the set was as good as you could wish to witness, but the first half left a slightly disappointed final overall impression. There were spells of utter brilliance, but they weren’t quite enough to elevate Triptykon’s efforts above Enslaved’s.

All of which had paved the way for Cannibal Corpse to bludgeon the faithful into a sweaty, writhing, mess, which they did with consummate ease. Formed in 1988, and with twelfth album ‘Torture’ due for release the following day, their influence in the death metal world cannot be underestimated. At Bloodstock I’d been chatting with Mr Jagermeister UK (aka Tom) moments before their set, and viewed most of it a considerable distance from the stage. Having now been within feet of both the stage and an absolute maelstrom of a pit, I now fully realise that here’s only one way to see this band! Seventy five minutes of relentless savagery later my grin couldn’t have been wider. There were sound issues throughout (inaudible drumkit early on, guitars cutting out towards the end) but the band soldiered on like the professionals they are. Throughout all the mayhem there was a precision to it all that made you wonder just how long these guys must spend in the rehearsal room. How they played at this velocity and intensity for the length of time they did remains a mystery. Searing guitar leads were the final killer blow to the most satisfying, whilst electrifyingly unpleasant, set that it’s been my pleasure to witness for a considerable time. A suitably brutal way to end a highly entertaining evening. Keep your diary clear for Destroyers Of The Faith 2! Hopefully not wishful thinking…

Setlist: ‘Evisceration Plague’, ‘The Time To Kill Is Now’, ‘Disfigured’, ‘Demented Aggression’, ‘Scourge Of Iron’, ‘I Cum Blood’, ‘Fucked With A Knife’, ‘Covered With Sores’, ‘Born In A Casket’, ‘The Wretched Spawn’, ‘I Will Kill You’, ‘Priests Of Sodom’, ‘Unleashing The Bloodthirsty’, ‘Make Them Suffer’, ‘Hammer Smashed Face’, ‘Stripped, Raped And Strangled’

Click here to read Jason Guest’s review of Cannibal Corpse’s new album, Torture