Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop! Your Master Butcher, The Saw, was at The Fillmore of Charlotte, NC, Sunday night, because I was not missing the stacked line-up that came into town! The Great Heathen Tour rowed in, with Cattle Decapitation, Obituary, Carcass, and (of course) Amon Amarth! What a Show!! And if Cattle Decapitation is the show opener, then you already know that this show was an ass-whoopin’!
The Fillmore of Charlotte is a good-sized club. A few years back, the O.G. and I were here to see Megadeth when they came through town. Now, with Ticket Master involved, the process of getting in, band transitions, and the overall movement of the night was streamlined, and quick. They had employees everywhere! The club has a VIP section, the only seating in the house. Three bars, a small grill, merch tables, bathrooms, and a smoking area rounds-out the amenities. Streaming out after the show was also a breeze.
This show was a sold-out event, and Ya Girl wasn’t missing Cattle Decapitation (one of The Mechanic’s favorites, too)! We rolled in early and were ready for the beatings. And at exactly 6:30, the beatings began! Opening bands only get 30 minutes, but Cattle Decapitation utilized their time well. They opened their set with a couple songs from Death Atlas and a one from deep in their catalogue; they premiered (at least in NC) a new song from their upcoming album, due to drop next year, and a couple more from Death Atlas. Cattle Decapitation’s set ended with the banger, “Bring Back the Plague,” and the house was ecstatic! At 7:00, on the dot, they were done. It was like a drive-by beat-down. Cattle Decapitation is a drums-led band (McGraw), while the crushing vocal abilities (Ryan) leave you in awe. What an opening to the night!
You already know that Ya Girl is a huge Obituary fan! I’ve seen them many times, and they never disappoint. At 7:15 (exactly), the band came out on blast. Beginning with their traditional opening instrumental, “Redneck Stomp,” the crowd was grooved into a frenzy from the start. When John Tardy (vocals) came out, it took us to the next level! The entire band “hair-bangs” the whole show, and Donald Tardy (drums) has such a crack to his snare, it’s a beating on it’s own. Now, the song list was totally different (after the opening) from any I’ve heard from them. Obituary lets the fans decide what songs are played on any given tour, drawing from their entire catalogue, and we got some that I was not expecting. They played quite a few newer songs – “Sentence Day,” “A Lesson in Vengeance,” and “Visions in My Head.” Then they performed their classic Celtic Frost cover, “Circle of the Tyrants.” They featured their new single, “The Wrong Time,” from their upcoming Dying of Everything, due out early 2023. And they finished their set with the classics, “I’m In Pain” and “Don’t Care.” Obituary put on an incredible live show! This night, it was just the band – no special effects – and they kicked our asses! But can you believe that they didn’t play Chopped in Half?! I was in shock!
I’ve seen Carcass one other time (years ago), when they headlined a tour that went through Raleigh, NC (with Obituary as their special guest) I wish I remembered this show! Their brand of Death Metal, a Grindcore/Goregrind blend, hits more like Cattle Decapitation, than it does Obituary. And I think they are a perfect set-up for the headliners in that they walk out (at 8:05), and slam you to the ground with a straight-forward attack. Carcass is like a steamroller, and spanning their storied catalogue (including some songs off of Torn Arteries), you get some groove, and some hooks; but as a rule, you are getting grinded by Walker’s bass and vocals, and the rest of the band’s relentless onslaught. It was almost a non-stop beating, with barely a word from Walker between the songs. When it was over (at 9:00), he introduced them as Carcass and thanks the crowd. If you didn’t know who Carcass was going in, you definitely know now!
Because The Fillmore of Charlotte is a mid-sized venue, we didn’t get both barrels (as it were) of the Amon Amarth live experience. On large stages, in festivals, the band utilizes a lot of fire, various Viking props, confetti canons, and so on. But this is why I prefer a club setting – because the band has to perform almost exclusively on pure talent and abilities. Not to worry! Amon Amarth are as prepared as anyone to put on a show! Center stage was the coveted Viking helmet. Atop the helmet is the huge drum kit of Wallgren. The top of the horns on the helmet disappear into the lights above the stage. The set also included a couple catwalks so the band can roam (and they kept the band out of the way of the Viking battle that happened, at one point, on the front of the stage!). And the rest of the show was simply Amon Amarth!
At 9:20 came the opening volley, as the band launched into the classic, “Guardians of Asgaard.” From there, they displayed weaponry from their mid-career catalogue up to the newest tracks, like “Great Heathen Army.” Of course, “Pursuit of Vikings” was cast at the crowd, along with “Cry of the Blackbirds,” “Shield Wall” and “Raise Your Horns,” and other songs off of The Great Heathen Army. During “Put Your Back into the Oar,” Johan (vocals) wanted us to ROW our Viking ship. I think we did a poor job. But in all fairness, we were under attack! “The Way of Vikings” featured the Viking battle, center stage. Amon Amarth’s encore was “Twilight of the Thunder God,” and it was an excellent sword thrust to finish us off!
Amon Amarth played for, nearly, 1 ½ hours, with a total of 15 songs in their arsenal. Ya girl has seen Amon Amarth a couple times (in a club and a festival). This was their best performance (IMO). The sound was incredible, the band was extremely accurate and tight, and Johan was in the face of the crowd the entire set. He continually interacted with us, thanked us, and invited us into the experience. He even stayed on stage, interacting with the fans after the show, as many were exiting the building. If you know their kind of Melodic Death Metal – succinct, practiced, and mastered – then you already know that an Amon Amarth live performance is nothing less than excellent.
The opportunity to see this stacked line-up – all four bands; fixtures of the Death Metal genre – was an awesome experience. I love live shows, especially in an intimate club setting. And to see veterans (four of them at one setting) perform their time-honored and honed craft is unforgettable. As I scanned the crowd all night – many dressed head-to-toe in Viking garb – from stage-front, wall to wall, to the back of the building, it seemed everyone present (without exception) was enjoying this unique opportunity. Ya Girl will probably see all these bands again. But will I have the opportunity to see them all together again, is the question begged.