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Carcass Concert Review - Regency Ballroom in San Francisco 3/26/09

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It seems like the salty blokes from Carcass just left these shores after a highly successful reunion tour that took them throughout the United States and to other global locales. We’ll never know if it was the desire to play again for fans, make more money or perhaps all of the above that lured them back to the United States, but no matter: Carcass once again delivered the putrefied goods.

The Faceless

What amounted to a cattle call of metal bands - some young and others weather-beaten – opened the night at the Regency Center Ballroom in San Francisco. The Faceless, who seem able to get a supporting slot on every significant metal tour in the past two years, played to a half-packed hall but periodically dazzled with their nimble tech-death. I have gone from despising them to tolerating them to enjoying their set over the course of three shows.

Samael

Industrial black metal act Samael channeled Rammstein , except they weren’t singing in German and playing with highly flammable props. Drummer Xy shifted from his electronic drums to his kit at a maddening pace. The band at points seemed to be performing a kinky Teutonic workout video, but the power of their songs was undeniable. Samael’s bass-heavy music was a bit tough to listen to at times, even with quality earplugs because of the Regency’s iffy acoustics, which make everything sound considerably louder.

Suicide Silence

Deathcore band du jour Suicide Silence took the stage and a gaggle of girls in the audience went wild. However, their set was grating, redundant and the stage decorations (cribbed from their first album cover) looked like a man feasting on a pesky sparrow rather than anything remotely unnerving. Vocalist Mitch Lucker’s between-song banter is so top-heavy with the “f” word that things get old fast. He appears to know few other words in the English language. Lucker kept asking for a circle pit and many obliged. He also kept plugging the new Suicide Silence album, which I will avoid.

Death Angel

Local heroes Death Angel from nearby Concord then wowed the partisan crowd. Mark Osegueda’s voice soared and he played the hometown crowd to the hilt, and new bassist Sammy Diosdado fit right into Death Angel’s dense rhythm section. Osegueda told the crowd that that the band was keeping it short but that didn’t prevent them from an excellent set, including a story about how Carcass opened for Death Angel years ago during a gig in Liverpool, England.

Carcass

It was finally time for Carcass, and the veterans delivered. The bulk of the evening’s material was taken from the Michael Amott-era albums Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious and Heartwork. It didn’t take long for Carcass to play classics like "Inpropagation," “Corporal Jigsore Quandary,” and “No Love Lost.” A group of fans that vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker dubbed the “Arch Enemy fan club” gathered by Amott’s section of the stage as he sliced and diced his ways through solos. Ken Owen hasn’t been able to play with the reformed Carcass but Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson filled in nicely.

Later in the set, Carcass started playing material from their older albums, and playing it better than the original recordings. “Genital Grinder” from Reek of Putrefaction sounded appropriately ominous. Guitarist Bill Steer quietly worked the right side of the stage for most of the evening but reached back and took his vocals to a guttural low for a “Exhumed to Consume” from Symphonies of Sickness.

Carcass’ older material sounded better live than it ever did in their early Earache releases. “Keep on Rotting In The Free World,” was the only song played from the Swansong, era, but fit well with earlier material. Carcass closed the long evening with a blistering take of “Heartwork.”

Carcass formed more than 20 years ago. This performance showcased a band that in some ways is more vital and important than they were in their heyday.

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