Cannabis Corpse @ The Star and Garter, Manchester, 07/09/2011

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Having arrived a little too early at the Star and Garter, I’m forced to contemplate, not for the first time, that this self proclaimed shit-hole should probably be avoided like the plague, as my wallet is raped repeatedly at the bar and we play pool on the world’s worst table. This is probably forgiven though, as upstairs is host to some of the best underground bands in town, and things look up as there’s movement on stage.

Hailing from the dark recess’s of a Rams-Bottom, Foetal Juiceare veterans of the UK death metal scene, back with vengeance after being off the circuit for a while due to a flesh eating bacteria generally found in the anus of a crocodile, claiming drummer Rob Harris’ third finger. Slamming into ‘Colostomy Baguette’, the atmosphere at first is slightly reluctant among the crowd. This is short lived as somewhere during the second song, vocalist Sam Read launches himself into the crowd provoking a reaction and people wake up. Songs such as ‘Bloodshot Eyes and Blistered Fingers’ and ‘Serpent of the Northern Lights’ (the tales of weed whores, sticking to the theme of cannabis parodies tonight) retain a catchiness, while also being disgustingly heavy and blackened in parts. This is death metal as it should be; not fast for the sake of it over technical riffs, no repetitive breakdown structures that bore the shit out of you, just pure groove and jittering aggression. As an unusually accessible band within their genre, their aggressively energetic and enthusiastic live performance make the pro life scourge easy to enjoy.
Next up are thrash crossover maniacs SSS. The fact that this band has recently undergone a major line-up change is definitely not apparent when the band unleashes a barrage of hardcore-style, incomprehensibly fast vocals and contagiously nasty thrash riffs upon a lively audience. The crowd, now riddled with thrash geeks, fully embrace the energy of the music, some maybe even too enthused, as several bloody faces stumble around the front, but then maybe I just don’t appreciate the thrill of blood pissing out of my nose. The tempo is generally furious with the bass notably clattering at breakneck speed. For me it’s the longer songs that gain definition during the mid paced breakdown sections, where the hooks can be fully appreciated. I fail to see that any thrash fan could be disappointed with the band, but neither are they one dimensional. While it is all thrashy, some sections lean more towards punk, while some are clearly influenced by some grind and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Magrudergrind record. Despite this, I do struggle to maintain the interest that the majority of people here are showing, but neither can I vouch for my interest in the genre.
After a grim intro reeking of high grade violence, Cannabis Corpsekick in with ‘Chronolith’. Just as things are getting fun with the first frantic notes descending into an infectious riff, there’s some issue with the bass guitar (I wasn’t looking at the time) and its out for the song. While they continue admirably, the sound doesn’t carry the same heaviness that the rest of the set does, fortunately its back for the rest of the set.
The band’s THC-injected parodies of Cannibal Corpse can be heavily reminiscent of the band themselves, bar the vocals sounding different, and people haven’t got bored with them yet. While heavily influenced, CC (Cannabis) aren’t just playing on a sound similar to corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide etc; its clear they’re doing it out of  nostalgic love for death metal. The lack of pretence might be what makes it work so well; vocalist Weedgrinder, when not shrieking and growling in semi-spastic movements, banters and interacts with the crowd to the extent I could almost believe he wasn’t stoned. The guitar work and structures keep it interesting, with malevolent melodies punctuated by chugging, and songs such as ‘Where the Kind Lives’ that’ll throw you into psychosis-addled frenzy.
Unfortunately, at some point that may well of been around here, a certain drunken turd licker starts to make a nuisance of himself by charging full pelt with his pants around his ankles into the unsuspecting members of the crowd. The victims, unaware of the sparsely populated head flying at them, about to give them whiplash, rightly enough become very pissed off and it’s not long before the bastard’s lynched enough to be discouraged from continuing his game, and we’re allowed to watch the band again. The shitter also tried to pull the mic from Weedgrinder onstage.
The material from ‘Beneath Grow Lights…’ in the set has some crushing rhythmic sections and more creative moments that stand out for me, perhaps more so than the bands earlier material. The more traditional ‘Every Bud Smoken’ however, is a stomping tune that’s just about as good fun as metal gets.  Appropriately, the band finish on ‘Fucked with Northern Lights’, which was also apparently the strain which was their “cup of tea” while they were in Manchester. As a breath of fresh, un-pretentious (if not slightly comical) air in the death metal scene, Cannabis Corpse are ones to catch if you get the chance.
Michael Collins
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