An ever-so-slowly growing metal metropolis, Las Vegas is finally starting to shed its pop/punk mold after all these years. Granted, it’ll always be a place filled to its gills with lounge acts, washed-up former pop stars and countless impersonators, but over the course of the past 13 years that this born and raised Chicago South Sider has lived in Sin City, it’s never been more metal than now.
Thanks mostly to the cozy and accessible Cheyenne Saloon, more and more of metal’s underground elite are headed through the desert and actually stopping rather than skipping past Vegas from Phoenix to SoCal or vice-versa. With such notable acts as Deceased, Malevolent Creation (twice), Deicide, Goatwhore, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Devin Townsend, Death Angel, Gravehill, and a two day Death Fest (and countless unsigned/local shows) in the past twelve months, the Cheyenne is easily the hottest spot for pure metal of all kinds in this town.
Enter Exhumed and Macabre, two bruising, brilliant bands that are hot off of releases of new albums; both are sensational in their own right. Exhumed, a band that has had the luxury of touring much more than Macabre over the years, was the rightful headliner and pulverized the hundred or so spectators with an absolutely crushing set. However punishing the Californians were, though, the night belonged to Chicagoland’s Macabre; they were near flawless in their songs’ execution and simply murdered it onstage.
After a handful of local bands played their hearts out to the early show-goers (I missed all the “undercard” bands), Atlanta’s Withered steamrolled the Vegas fans. With their blend of sometimes black metal, sometimes Isis-esque power, sometimes trashy delivery coupled with somewhat of an old Demolition Hammer attack, Withered’s several songs were just enough to get the blood pumping and aggression flowing. Still touring in support of last year’s Dualitas full length, Withered were the perfect opener for the night’s main bill. Next up was Colorado’s Cephalic Carnage, a band whose grinding, swirling, brutal take on brutal death metal kicked things into a higher gear. They cranked out songs from their entire catalog with the greatest of ease, but at times their sound became too mashed-together and jumbled (a fly in most brutal technical DM bands’ ointment). Still, they were strong enough to deliver a solid show; a crippling precursor to what came next.
After several minutes of technical difficulties with Corporate Death’s amp and guitar, Macabre were finally set to strangle, slash, and dismember the rabid crowd. “Serial Killer” properly opened their set to a ravenous response and for the first time in the band’s lengthy twenty-five year history, Macabre was finally unleashing their murder metal onto Vegas-based ears. “Temple of Bones” followed to a raucous ovation, which preceded “Nero’s Inferno” and then the horrifying tale of child killer Albert Fish in “Albert Was Worse Than Any Fish in the Sea.”
Macabre couldn’t have sounded better: Corporate Death’s fingers flailed away seamlessly at his axe as he ripped into the complexities and intricacies of his playing virtually note-for-note and his original and unmatched vocals were top notch (thanks to his Bobby Brown-inspired head set). Dennis the Menace’s percussive assault was as smooth as it was abrasive and his mind-blowing fills, rolls and other difficulties were delivered with as much fury as finesse. Nefarious’ bass lines and backing vocals rounded out the trio’s wicked sound perfectly as well.
Macabre pulled out all the stops with such classics as “Hitchhiker,” “Scrub a Dub Dub,” “Zodiac,” “Night Stalker” and show closer “Vampire of Düsseldorf”. Their set was cut a song or two short, probably because of the delay that prevented them from starting their set on time, but it was a hell of a set nevertheless. It was a little surprising that they opted to play only one track from their latest LP, Grim Scary Tales, one of the finest releases of 2011, though.
Exhumed, just a few weeks removed from the release of their comeback album All Guts, No Glory, also one of the best new albums of the year, blew away the fervent crowd with a collection of their “hits” from all four of their full-lengths. Leaving no stone unturned, the gorecore superstars played to the fans’ demands and delivered the best of the best (save for “Dis-assembly Line”).
Exhumed’s Napalm Death and Carcass-fueled take on grindcore was delivered with such fury and aggression that the fans had little time to catch their collective breaths. Singer/guitarist/founder Matt Harvey spent very little time babbling to the crowd like so many a vocalist and opted instead to just pummel the Cheyenne with song after song after song of blood-soaked frenzy. Obviously Harvey & Co had to take a few moments off from time to time to revamp their energy, but between-song banter was kept at a minimum for the most part.
Unfortunately, toward the end of Exhumed’s excellent set, Harvey’s mic began acting up and it became extremely difficult to hear his raspy screams and growls and the unit’s amps were cranked way up, causing a somewhat a jumbled sound at times. Still, Exhumed delivered their tracks as only they can and when it was all said done, the Cheyenne Saloon was laid to waste by one of the best, if not the best, gore-obsessed grindcore bands in metal today.
Exhumed’s entire setlist is as follows:
Intro All Guts, No Glory As Hammer to Anvil Necrotize Necromaniac Casket Krusher Through Cadaver Eyes In the Name of Gore Slaughtercult Torso Limb from Limb (Guitar Solo) Forged in Fire (Formed in Flame) In My Human Slaughterhouse Decrepit Crescendo (Drum solo) Waxwork (encore): The Matter of Splatter Open the Abscess