It’s Friday the 13th – A night in which the local Edmonton metalheads are out for one hell of a party and a ritualistic experience. Union Hall concert goers received both, a hefty dose of Poland’s blackened death metal demigods, BEHEMOTH, and American death metal heavyweights, CANNIBAL CORPSE. As fans were let into the venue, supporters of blackened rockers, TRIBULATION and death metallers AEON began to fill the Hall. As these two Sweden-based bands powered through their energetic sets, their authentic music amped up the crowd in preparation for what was yet to come.
25-year strong death metal icons CANNIBAL CORPSE were next up on the bill. The party was about to start! Fans began pressing towards the barricades and throwing beer cans in the air as the time for CANNIBAL CORPSE drew nearer. As each member of the band filled their place on the dimly lit stage, the roars of the crowd consecutively grew louder and louder. With the whipping of George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher’s incredibly muscular neck, the band thundered into “Scourge of Iron” from 2012’s album Torture.
Between songs, Corpsegrinder called upon their guitar tech, Baby Face, gesturing to him to come onto the stage. Thinking something was horribly wrong, Baby Face hurried over, only to be surprised with a birthday cake, lit with candles and held by a fellow tech friend from the tour. Smiles cracked through the stone-like faces on each member of CANNIBAL CORPSE as Baby Face hugged and thanked them all for wishing him a happy birthday. As the set continued on, CC rolled through some of their old-school, gut-wrenching and gruesome tracks such as “I Cum Blood”, ” Make Them Suffer”, “Skull Full Of Maggots”, and “Hammer Smashed Face” each erupting into the most aggressive and chaotic of mosh pits that the Union Hall has ever, and probably will ever see.
Eagerly waiting for BEHEMOTH’S appearance, the strong smell of incense filled the room as a few sticks of Nag Champa slowly burnt off of frontman and guitarist, Nergal’s microphone altar. The Hall began to fill with smoke, as spotlights beamed down through the haze upon the microphone stands with steel cobras coiled around them, creating a very ritualistic image throughout the room – the place went black as bassist Orion, drummer Inferno and guitarist Seth took their spots on the stage, followed by frontman Nergal, who bowed to the audience with flaming posts in both hands. As Nergal rose to his feet, he threw down his fiery posts, and the band boomed into “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”- a track from 2014’s album The Satanist. On the receiving end of the piercing glares that Nergal would frequently give the crowd, you couldn’t help but feel like he was staring into your soul, followed by yelling into his ambient microphone “How does it feel to be alive?!” then, proceeding into “Ben Sahar’”( also from The Satanist).
After a victorious battle with leukemia a few years prior, a new found appreciation for life was awakened within Nergal, which has inspired many songs on The Satanist record. BEHEMOTH performed a series of hit tracks from over the years, such as “Conquer All”, “At the Left Hand Ov God”, and “Of Fire and The Void” each highlighting the incredible talents of the musicians on stage. Although, truth be told, it was puzzling that they excluded newer single “Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel”, which left many BEHEMOTH supporters disappointed and scratching their heads. Closing the night off with Nergal’s incantation of “Ojcze Nasz” the four demigods appeared through beams of white light peering down through the hazy air, wearing cloaks and black horned masks, casting silhouettes upon the audience, making Friday the 13th at Union Hall a truly haunting, spiritual experience that won’t soon be forgotten.
LIVE REVIEW AND PHOTOS: DANA ZUK PHOTOGRAPHY