Cannibal Corpse “Vile Live” DVD Review
Written By Tyler Watson
As requested, I have composed an in-depth review of the latest live DVD offering by Cannibal Corpse entitled “Vile Live”. This DVD was included with the 2007 remastering of Cannibal Corpse’s fifth studio album “Vile”. This live DVD/ remastered album 2 disk set was released in 2007 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Cannibal Corpse’s longtime record label Metal Blade Records.
A set list of 18 live songs comprises the content of this DVD. These 18 tracks were recorded live at “The Berkeley Square” in Berkeley, California. Interestingly enough, they 18 tracks were recorded over a two day, two gig period. Fourteen out of the eighteen tracks were recorded on February 3, 1997 and the final four tracks were recorded on February 4, 1997. These gigs were a part of the headlining portion of the “Monolith of Death” tour.
For an introduction, the DVD begins by showing various video clips from the DVD of each Cannibal Corpse member playing live in slow motion. As you see these clips, your ears are treated to the Cannibal Corpse tune “Devoured By Vermin” which plays in the background accompanying the clips. The band lineup for the two performances featured on the DVD is as follows. The vocal duties are fulfilled by longtime Cannibal Corpse front man George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and appearing behind the drum kit is none other than Paul Mazurkiewicz. Death metal prodigy, bassist Alex Webster supplies the bone crushing bass lines and solos during each gig, and the skull crushing duo of Rob Barrett and (now former member) Jack Owen shred away mercilessly on their guitars. During this introduction as each band member appears on screen, their name appears on screen as well written in dripping blood lettering. After this, the main DVD menu appears with 3 available options to choose from. The available options are Play, which plays the entire December 3rd gig uninterrupted from start to finish The Select option, which allows the viewer to scroll down through a list and choose which of the 14 tracks from the December 3rd gig they wish to see. And finally one can select the Extras option, which is where the 4 tracks from the February 4th gig are found. Ironically, the 4 tracks from the February 4th gig do NOT have a menu that viewers can select which track they want to watch. For example this means that when viewing the February 4th gig, if you wish to see the closing track “Hammer Smashed Face” you must sit through the 3 previous tracks before it appears. While die hard Cannibal Corpse fans may have no problem sitting through and watching 4 straight songs, casual fans of the band may find the lack of a song menu for the December 4th gig somewhat irritating. Despite the omission of a song menu for the December 4th gig, as a longtime Cannibal Corpse fan I found the layout of this DVD to be downright superb.
Opening credits and menus aside it is time to talk about the actual content of the DVD itself. From a listener’s perspective, the sound quality of the DVD is good but it is not without its’ flaws. Instrumentally, is where the sound quality on this DVD really shines. The guitar, bass, and drum tracks are all recorded very well, allowing the viewer to hear every riff, solo, bass line, and drum beat with no difficulties. As a result fans will have the privilege of hearing two amazing Cannibal Corpse concerts recorded ALMOST flawlessly. Both of these gigs ooze with so much instrumental fury that some viewers may start to think that they themselves are deep in the mosh pits of “The Berkeley Square”, when in reality that are at home watching the mayhem through their television screens. And that my friends, is downright amazing.
However the auditory flaws make their presence known in the form of a few of the vocal performances on this DVD. For instance, during the song “Bloodlands” the beginning of the first verse sounds extremely muffled. Fortunately the sound qualities of the vocals executed by vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher improve during the course of this song. Songs such as “Covered With Sores”, “Hammer Smashed Face”, as well as the first verse of “Staring Through The Eyes of The Dead” all suffer from these same vocal inaudibility problems. Fortunately these problems are relatively minimal, only lasting one verse or a few seconds depending on the song. In conclusion though, despite these slight vocal flaws the brutality of these songs strongly remains.
Speaking of vocal brutality, in my opinion the “Vile Live” DVD contains some of vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s best live performances to ever be recorded. Shining examples of this include his vocal delivery on “Puncture Wound Massacre”, “Mummified in Barbed Wire”, as well as the opening scream of “Devoured by Vermin”. Considering the fact that these 3 songs which I have just mentioned are from 2 separate gigs (one night apart), fans can see that Fisher is nothing short of a legend in the field of Death metal vocals. The level of power, energy, aggression, and night after night consistency that he possesses vocally is envied by many in the Death metal realm, and after viewing this DVD I think it is highly obvious why that is.
Of course what good are the throat splitting vocals of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher without a good setlist of songs to accompany them? To answer that question, Cannibal Corpse plays nothing but 18 classic tracks from their (then 7 year) career during this DVD. While 11 out of the 18 tracks present here are from the Chris Barnes era of Cannibal Corpse, rest assured that seven tracks from the “Vile” album (which signaled the beginning of the Fisher era) are included here. A few key tracks featured on this DVD include “Stripped, Raped and Strangled”, the epic “Hammer Smashed Face”, as well as “Monolith” and “Orgasm Through Torture”. Even underrated fan favorites such as “Force Fed Broken Glass”, “Addicted to Vaginal Skin”, and “Shredded Humans” make their appearances, making “Vile Live” a DVD that will definitely please any Cannibal Corpse fan whether they are seasoned Cannibal Corpse veterans (from the “Eaten” days) or newfound fans.
And now to discuss the most crucial aspect of this DVD. This aspect is of course, the music. As mentioned earlier in this review, a key aspect to the sheer brilliance of the “Vile Live” DVD is the musicianship. From the amazing riff combinations preformed by guitarists Jack Owen and Rob Barret on the opening track “Perverse Suffering”, to the final bass line and drumbeat preformed by bassist Alex Webster drummer and Paul Mazurkiewicz, everything on “Vile Live” flows together beautifully. A few key highlights which demonstrate the superior talent and musicianship of the Cannibal Corpse entourage include Jack Owen’s solo during “Addicted to Vaginal Skin”, the opening bass lines of “Bloodlands” preformed by Alex Webster, as well as the skull busting solo preformed by Rob Barret during “Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead”. Keeping the beat through each song is of course none other than drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz, who blasts through each song with sheer force, speed, talent, and aggression. In conclusion, the combined technicality and musical skill of these 4 Death metal legends combined with the vocal fury of George Fisher can only mean one thing. A bone crushing, neck breaking, performance by these Death metal pioneers. On “Vile Live” that is exactly what we (the fans) get.
Speaking of fans, the crowd is also a major aspect of this DVD. Every great performance artist regardless of genre knows one thing. They know that the level of enthusiasm demonstrated by their fans can either make or break their live careers. The members of Cannibal Corpse need not to worry though, as their fans never fail to disappoint them. The level of enthusiasm exhibited by fans throughout both gigs on this DVD is quite superb. As the band progresses throughout each song, their many enthusiastic fans head bang, stage dive, and mosh right along with them. One key song that comes to my mind when discussing crowd enthusiasm is “A Skull Full Of Maggots”. For years this song has been a fan favorite and after watching “Vile Live” one can definitely see why that is. The crowd reacts to this song energetically as always, but the intensity does not stop there. While singing the song, George holds out his microphone to the audience prompting them to yell “MAGGOTS” during the chorus, and yell this, they certainly do. The results of course, are explosively amazing. After viewing this one can truly see the level of excitement that goes on at a Cannibal Corpse concert. And this of course is an unmatched level of extreme excitement that sees no sign of stopping in the band’s now almost 20 year career.
To end this review, I would just like to say what an honor it has been to have been able to own, witness, the “Vile Live” DVD. Speaking from both a devoted Cannibal Corpse fan’s perspective as well as from an aspiring music journalist’s perspective, this DVD is a must own for any Cannibal Corpse fan or for any fan of Death metal in general. So don’t delay, run out and purchase this “Vile Live” 2 disk remastering of the “Vile” album and sit back and prepare to be Cannibalized.
Highlight Tracks Include: “Addicted To Vaginal Skin”, “Perverse Suffering”, “Shredded Humans”, “A Skull Full Of Maggots”,