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As someone who isn’t overly familiar with their music, it’s difficult to know what to expect from Job for a Cowboy’s live performances but, although they may not be the greatest band in the world, they put on a solid performance that I’m sure brings about some converts. Some crowd movement near the front of the venue is indicative of such or, at the very least, some pre-existing fans have turned up to see ‘em. It’s difficult enough to be the opening act without doing it for metal legends Cannibal Corpse and they definitely manage to rise to the challenge, even though they don’t particularly break any new ground. Slipping in one new track from forthcoming new album ‘Demonocracy’, the core of their set is from their older releases, mainly 2009’s ‘Ruination’. A good warm up act for what is to come. (SW)
Sunday 11th March 2012
HMV Institute in Birmingham, UK
Reviews by Siân Williams & Mark Holmes; Photography by Mark Holmes
Next up are scene stalwarts Enslaved. Arguably the highlight of the evening for me, the Norwegians proceed to deafen us with their unique brand of Viking-themed progressive black metal. Unfortunately, the sound through the PA is so loud that the walls of the venue can be felt shaking and that does slightly mar the overall effect of their performance. In spite of the sheer volume, Enslaved manage to deliver a rather awesome set, concentrating on their more recent albums and with a Led Zeppelin cover (‘Immigrant Song’) thrown in for good measure. Even during their live performances, they manage to balance the melodic with the heavy and have enough guitar solos and layered instrumentations with the addition of keyboards (the only band tonight to have such) to keep it interesting without making it look like they’re trying to show off. (SW)
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After the success of the Metal Hammer sponsored Defenders of the Faith package tours, of which there have been three to date, we now have the inaugural Destroyers of the Faith which, as kind of alluded to by the name, focuses on the more extreme side of the genre. And what a bill that constitutes the first of which will hopefully become a standard fixture on the metal calendar: Cannibal Corpse; Triptykon; Enslaved and Job For A Cowboy.

On a pleasantly sunny Sunday in Birmingham, Digbeth High Street is rammed with riot police and revellers enjoying the slightly pre-emptive St Patrick’s Day celebrations. So it isn't exactly what's expected when turning up to a Cannibal Corpse gig and it's a challenge in itself to wade through the masses of overly inebriated hordes clad in Guinness hats who look somewhat confused and antagonistic that long haired metallers attired in black are in their midst. Random idiots can be seen ejected from pubs adjacent to the venue (and from the venue itself which also seems to be hosting the premature Irish celebration) and, fortunately, the pissed Brummies seem more intent on fighting each other than being too bothered by the presence of an ever growing number of metal fans. Downgraded from the main hall in the HMV Institute due to lower than expected pre-sales, the four bands are enough of a draw to fill the Library room of the HMV Institute (conveniently located at the heart of the Irish madness) and without it being uncomfortably full. And, with a new album due out the following day, fans are keen to see what Cannibal Corpse (and co) have to offer…
The set starts well with a good atmospheric opening and their performance is fairly solid throughout. However, after Enslaved both impressing me and ruining my hearing forever they fall a little short of the mark. There’s even a treat for the Celtic Frost fans in the crowd, with half of their set being comprised of songs by frontman Tom G Warrior’s one-time band (‘Circle of the Tyrants’ and ‘Dethroned Emperor’). They’re visually captivating and there seems to be a lot of love for them amongst the crowd, so there was no danger of it being a dull performance, even if they are a band of very few words. Four songs spanning forty five minutes plus everyone loves a man in a hat. Lovely stuff. (SW)
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Legendary, seminal, and pioneering death metallers Cannibal Corpse close the night with a headline set that's amusingly preceded by a roadie soundchecking microphones with "cookie...cookie...cookie..." in what some might construe as misplaced mockery but at least it shows a more fun side to a genre that all too often takes itself too seriously. And as austere as Cannibal are about their music and performances, the audience is most definitely out to have fun tonight - a generally affable atmosphere within the venue indicates such jovial sentiments. Opening with the title track from 2009's 'Evisceration Plague' before airing 'The Time to Kill is Now' from its 2006 predecessor 'Kill', they then dip back into the mid-90s for 'Disfigured'. Although the band are as solid and as tight as ever, a slightly muddy guitar sound through the PA where the distortion is a little too 'loose' makes the precision of the riffing sound a little less precise than it should but that doesn't seem to dampen anyone's enjoyment. Just one song in and security spring into action to pluck the first crowd surfers from the audience as many ignore the "strictly no crowd surfing" signs plastered around the venue.

Wisely, Cannibal opt to perform just two tracks from new album 'Torture' that's not released until the following day - the Slayer-edged 'Demented Aggression' (composed by Pat O'Brien who was maybe influenced by his time filling in for Slayer's Jeff Hanneman last year?) and 'Scourge of Iron'. They evidently acknowledge a general lack of familiarity by not including too many new cuts that otherwise might've interrupted the flow of the set with a more subdued reaction. Instead, it's classic Cannibal all the way for the remainder of their time on stage with the likes of 'I Cum Blood', 'Covered with Sores', 'Born in a Casket', 'Fucked With a Knife' (dedicated with a huge dose of irony by George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher to "all the women" in the audience) and 'I Will Kill You' ensuring that heads keep on banging and the pit maintains perpetual motion. Two final bursts of death wrap up the night with 'Hammer Smashed Face' and 'Stripped, Raped and Strangled' and, although effective in their delivery, dare I say that Paul Mazurkiewicz's drumming sounds just ever so slightly out on the latter so perhaps a tiring and lengthy tour has started to show at this climactic show. All in all though, it's another strong performance from one of the genre's most legendary acts. (MH)
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Cannibal Corpse at the HMV Institute, Birmingham, UK, 11th March 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com