In this violent and desolate world, one knows not to go outside. Non-Euclidean angelic creatures with wings where they shouldn’t be, covered in stolen eyes, with long sharp claws soar across the blackened sky snatch unfortunate travelers seeking refuge for their nests… and if the angels don’t get you, mind altering pestilence will, turning you into a violent psychopath with bright green eyes, only satiated by carving up innocents… and if the pestilence doesn’t get you the dementors from Harry Potter will. One must keep weapons of the flesh to keep oneself safe, moving only in the shadows, staying away from prying eyes. A beacon of hope lies on the horizon though. Whispers tell of a band of warriors who make their way through hordes ripping and tearing wings and flesh alike. Unholy warriors hellbent on destroying the plague upon this earth… and they were coming… to Lincoln, Nebraska.
Though the road ahead was fraught with danger, Brandon and I set out to make the long trek across the blackened Nebraska plains, only stopping once at a Bucky’s for snacks, for the road ahead was long and treacherous. Equipped with a battle vest and my trusty ax… or... er, camera, we fought our way down the i80 and made it to the shining beacon of safety, the Bourbon Lounge, the only holdout against the forces waging war on the last of us.
Up first on the docket was Black Anvil, a Black Metal band out of New York. The Anvil brought their traditional approach to United States Black Metal (USBM,) infused with progressive and thrash elements, putting out a call to all survivors in the area. Their latest album Regenesis, released just over a month ago, was the band's first entry in 5 years, and is a solid entry into their discography garnering international acclaim. I really enjoyed their bass heavy black metal stylings, and especially liked their drummer Raeph Glicken's performance. The dude put on such a good show, I got a ton of great photos of the guy, not to mention how clean and visceral his playing was.
Given their performance you wouldn’t have been able to tell they had just come back from a break. With vigor and precision, the band whipped up the survivors into a frenzy, mosh pit after mosh pit, preparing them for the upcoming battle. When the band started the venue was already packed, and by the end of their set, what was left of Lincoln was all packed into the Bourbon, ready for the onslaught. (i.e., the venue was packed with sweaty dudes.)
Check out some of the best USBM the NYBM scene has to offer at their Bandcamp page.
Up next was Immolation, and thank the dear sweet Lord Satan too, while attracting all the survivors in Lincoln, the noise had also attracted the angel beasts. The band brought with them their classic 90s death metal sound, along with super sweet satanic guitar lasers that they were using to shoot down angels left and right (i.e., they played some bitchin’ heavy tunes.) It was super fun watching Robb Dolan whip his super long hair around in between belting gutturals and hitting sick tremolos on his bass bare fingered. I’m pretty sure I saw him whack one of those holy creatures straight out of the air with his hair.
Robert Vigna helped keep the energy up with his staccato performance, swinging his picking hand way out from the guitar striking discordant spells along the way. I thought I saw him pull a wing straight off an angel with that hand of his, but it was blazingly fast. After getting my 3 photos worth of songs, I went to join Brandon with the rest of the crowd, only to find that he was nowhere to be found. After a song or two of trying to pick him out of the bouncing bodies I heard someone scream “I WANNA DIE IN THIS PIT!” I’m sure the pit would have obliged too, given the raw fury of Immolation’s sanguine tomes. Only later did I find out that goober was Brandon. Fortunately, or unfortunately for Brandon, everyone survived.
So, I’m not the most die-hard fan of Immolation, I’m actually fairly fair weather. I haven’t really kept up with their more modern stuff, and I typically stick with the 90s stuff, not because I was old enough to enjoy any of the golden age death metal occurring at the time, but because I’m a sucker for the early sounds of brutality. Usually when I listen to Immolation, I go back to Dawn of Possession, however I really enjoy hearing their classics alongside some of their more modern tracks. Tracks like “The Age of No Light,” pair quite nicely next to tracks off of Dawn of Possession, and hearing the mixture made me appreciate how far the band has come. I’ll be binging Acts of God for the next month or so.
You can binge Acts of God at www.immolation.info
Oh, my sweet dark lord Satan, Dark Funeral was so much fun. I couldn’t not have a blast with the band as they kept performing to me and the other photographer in the pit, giving us horns pointed at the camera shots, lining up for poses when we swung over to their area for shots, and other general shots black metal shenanigans. (No churches were burned in the making of this article… I think.)
Once I left the photo pit it was made clear to me that the crowd felt the same way I did about the band, as heads were bouncing, the pit was circling, and everyone seemed to be having a blast. So much so that more angels showed up, this time with flesh craving psychopaths, and a few dementors. Not to worry dear readers, Dark Funeral had the powers of Satan on their side, and acclaimed summoner/lead vocalist Heljarmadr was there. In a swift motion he ripped out an angel's heart in midair, completing the summoning ritual allowing satanic demons to assist in the battle. He commanded them with precision and turned the tide of battle... (i.e., They played “Unchain My Soul.”) Also, Drummer Jalomaah cast the Patronus charm, sending the Dementors packing.
Whispers tell of a kid throwing up in the pit, (i.e., Brandon overheard someone in the bathroom say they did.) I hold said rumors as true in my heart, for the pit floor was pretty sticky, and dudes be looking like they pinballs bouncing between bumpers at rapid speed in there. When the battle was done Heljarmadr grabbed an upside down cross with a golden figure of Jesus on it, and licked it head to toe for a nutritious snack, then brought out their black flag of victory, waiving it their entire last song.
You can find all the delectably evil tomes of Dark Funeral at www.darkfuneral.se.
Last but not least were the certified Kings of Death Metal, the almighty Cannibal Corpse. Corpse is one of my all-time favorite bands, and when I heard they were playing Lincoln, I jumped at the chance to cover them. And they did not disappoint, starting strong with “Scourge of Iron,” an absolute classic, and maybe my favorite Corpse track.
One of the things that I noticed first was Corpsegrinder’s Trevor Strnad Rest in Power shirt commemorating the recently fallen, fellow front man, and longtime member of The Black Dahlia Murder. I’ve been a huge BDM fan and had interacted with Trever a few times on twitter, as he had gone out of his way to like and comment on a few BDM-centered tweets I made. (I know, how parasocial of me.) While these were small actions, it really meant a lot to me that he had gone out of his way to interact with a random fan, and seeing the shirt made me tear up a bit. Before their set I got Corpsegrinder’s attention, motioned towards the shirt and gave him the fist on chest bump of respect. I got a little nod, (i.e., my parasocial behaviors were validated, which they shouldn’t have been, I absolutely have a problem.)
As the first song went the crowd started sending surfers over the barricade, making the workspace for photos a little cramped. By the beginning of their third song, a group of security guards situated themselves to my left in an effort to grab a surfer, and at the same time another group to my right started coming right at me in an attempt to catch another surfer, essentially sandwiching me in between the two groups. After I noticed this, I turned around and saw a good 5 more surfers on the way. One of the security guards rightfully cut us off, telling us it was no longer safe for us to do photos. I ducked the barrier and entered the crowd, which was arguably just as dangerous, considering another group of murderous pseudo-human psychos had breached the venue.
A friend of mine and frequent local metal show attendee had mentioned after the show that she had been up front for the set and had a psycho try and push her out of her spot. After pushing him away he had apparently tried to swing at her but missed and was axed in the neck by a security guard, (i.e., kicked out… hopefully.)
Corpse played a large variety of their material anywhere from Eaten Back to Life and their newer material off Violence Unimagined, with highlights being “Code of the Slashers,” “Evisceration Plague,” “I Cum Blood,” “Hammer Smashed Face,” (of course,) and “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled.”(Sorry early Corpse is pretty gross, but they’ve made efforts to step away from the shock value overt misogyny that plagued early 90s death metal. The song is still a bop though.) I especially had a blast when they played Vile’s “Devoured by Vermin.” I feel like that album doesn’t get enough love due to it having to follow The Bleeding, but I love it! Go listen to Vile, “Mummified in Barbed Wire,” “Disfigured,” and “Absolute Hatred,” are certified bangers!
Over the course of the show, I saw the band dismember several psychos culminating in a bloodbath. Guitarist Erik Rutan lobbing the head off of one with his spiky guitar. Bassist Alex Webster shoved his headstock straight up where the sun don’t shine for one until it tore the glowing, green-eyed, ghoul in half. Rob Barrett, on rhythm guitar, pulled out a comically large-barreled revolver blasting one, leaving a large hole where a torso should have been without missing a note. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz didn’t even look up from his kit as he was surrounded, he just kept playing and the sheer force of his cymbals sent the gang flying. After all that, Corpsegrinder grabbed one of the bigger ones, lifted it up by the next with a single hand and started windmilling, banging his head fast and faster until his hair was as fast as a saw blade. Then he tipped his windmill downward towards the freak’s head and ground it clean off until there was nothing but a stump. (i.e., they played Kill or Become.)
I later met with Brandon so I could pawn my equipment off on him so I could enter the pit, “Disfigured,” had just started and I couldn’t stand idly by while they were playing my jam. He asked how the photos went, and I told him about how they had kicked us due to the overabundance of crowd surfers. “Oh, that was probably me!” “Wat…” “I was just sending people up one by one, asking people if they wanted a boost.” You can blame that dingus Brandon for the limited quantity of Corpse photos.
The last highlight of the night was when Corpsegrinder challenged the crowd to a headbanging contest screaming, “YOU WANNA SHOT AT THE CHAMP?!?!” Then he ultimately smoked us with his turbine level speeds and proclaimed “THAT'S RIGHT! UNDISPUTED CHAMPION RIGHT HERE!”
All jokes and storytelling overindulgences aside, this was a dream shoot for me, and I had a blast shooting each of the bands. I’m so grateful that each of the bands were gracious enough to let me in, allowing me to take photos. Not all huge bands like these allow photo passes. Anyways, below are galleries. Enjoy the photos. I’m super happy with how everything turned out.
Check out Vile, and all the other amazingly gory works of Cannibal Corpse at cannibalcorpse.net.