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Carcass - March 14, 2009 - Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland, OH

By: David E. Gehlke

Had this show been on a weekday, methinks yours truly would have made the trek to Cleveland anyway – you just don’t miss a chance to see a reunited Carcass. Reports from their 2008 reunion tour were glimmering, almost unanimously positive, so hopes were high and when word of the band’s setlist broke, one was almost giddy. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one…

Headlining a tour package that is mostly “hit,” Carcass, along with Psycroptic, Samael, and Suicide Silence were to comprise of tonight’s bill, with Abigail Williams subbing for a sidelined Arsis, who by all accounts are pretty much done for. A hometown favorite (singer Ken Sorceron is a Cleveland metal scene regular and used to run sound at Peabody’s – he even did my band once. Wow-wee!), Abigail Williams raced through a 30-minute set based largely on their recent In the Shadow Of A Thousand Suns album. The band’s propensity for speed and Cradle of Filth keyboard flourishes are a bit of a mish-mash and the constant, never-ending barrage of speed started to thaw pretty quickly, but the crowd lapped it up. I was just wondering where the hell their hot keyboardist was.

Psycroptic were up next and being the social butterfly that this scribe is (a lot of Pittsburgh scene vets made the trek as well), most of their set was missed. I was assured by my impossible-to-please show companion that Psycroptic were “tight as fuck,” so that has to be taken at face-value. Additional secondhand accounts confirmed this opinion and hopefully the Tazmanian four-piece are finally getting their just due.

After wading through the not-so-spacey caverns of Peadbody’s, Samael’s light-show intensive set was caught in its entirety and good thing – the Swiss veterans were a much-needed change of pace. Relying heavily off tracks from Solar Soul, Passage and Ceremony of Opposites, Samael are a visually captivating act, especially drummer Xy, whose energy on his stand-up drums and keyboards are a marvel. Live staple “Into the Pentagram” also satiated a surprisingly strong Samael contingent.

With little or no desire to see Suicide Silence (the “miss” band of the bill) more time was spent hovering around the bar area, scoping out chicks and in search of fellow Cleveland Browns fans who could share in the disappointment of a lost 4-12 season. Neither happened unfortunately and from I gather, SS played a breakdown or two. Or 38.

Carcass took their good ‘ole time getting on stage, even prompting some of the sold-out contingent started to shout, “Carcass sucks!” If singer/bassist Jeff Walker had heard this, a good laugh would be had. Sure enough, Carcass strolled onto stage at 11:05 PM EST to the strains of “Inpropagation” and we were off. From a pure sonic standpoint, the band sounded top-notch, which could be attributed to Peabody’s always-reliable sound or the musicianship of guitarists Bill Steer and Michael Amott. Either way, this shit sounded too good to be true.

“Buried Dreams” and its king-sized main riff was a bulldozer, as was “Incarnated Solvent Abuse,” which benefited from fill-in drummer Adrian Erlandsson’s nimble double-bass work. The Steer/Amott guitar tandem really got its chance to flesh out during the melodic portions of “Carnal Forge,” “This Mortal Coil” and “Keep On Rotting In the Free World,” while Walker sounds just like he did 15 years ago. Amazing.

Lots of good vibes seen on stage, as Walker playfully rocked-out with both Steer and Amott during their solos, traded verbal barbs with the audience, and best of all, no phony encores were to be had, leaving “Heartwork” to clean up the mess. Extra kudos to Erlandsson for assuming Ken Owen’s drum position. The Swede was spot-on, and kept true to Owen’s original patterns, nailing the various fills and quirks during “Pedigree Butchery.”

Rarely are reunions this good and when coupled with the ferocious Cleveland crowd, Carcass proved why they are death metal royalty. On the way back, my now-fully inebriated companion and I dished on why the band’s songs have stood the test of time, coming to the conclusion that Carcass wrote actual “songs.” Name another death metal band that helped spawn to legitimate forms of DM – brutal grindcore and melodic death metal? Can’t be done. It was soon agreed upon that a few, or a thousand of these new bands, copycats or not, could learn a thing or two from the masters…

New album? Bring it on.

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