The Great Heathen Tour
CATTLE DECAPITATION + OBITUARY + CARCASS + AMON AMARTH
Bayou Center Music, Houston, TX
November 15, 2022
The Great Heathen Tour was definitely one of the most anticipated shows that hit Houston this November. It was great to see a massive wave of metalheads heading downtown early in the afternoon. (This show was scheduled to start really early, taking into consideration that Tuesday is a working day for most of us, but I will keep comments about this and traffic leaving work to myself.)
This tour is full of heavyweights, and CATTLE DECAPITATION is not a lesser band just because they were in the opening spot. It’s an American band whose popularity is growing by the minute, especially since Death Atlas in 2019, a turning point in their trajectory if you ask me. That’s why the entire setlist was devoted to this album plus a new song, “We Eat Our Young,” which will be featured on the upcoming album scheduled for the spring of 2023. It’s brutally impressive to watch such a display of aggressiveness and cohesion on stage. This is all a result of five-piece that has been steady since 2018 with the entry of bassist Olivier Pinard and second guitarist Belisario Dimuzio. For this combo of “aliens,” I will highlight the backbone, which is made up of David McGraw on drums, the one and only master of stratospheric riffs. Josh Elmore. and Travis Ryan as the last passenger with his dirty and extraterrestrial voice. It’s quite an experience to see this death metal machinery in action, taking this genre one step further with every album.
“Redneck Stomp” was the designated opener for OBITUARY. After three-plus minutes of instrumental riffing, John Tardy announced “Sentence Day,” and the nostalgic slaughter began inside me and most 80’s and 90’s metalheads because seeing this band live is like going back to those convulsive times—to high-school and metal parties, at least for me. OBITUARY is my relic, and I am pretty sure that is an early years soundtrack for many of you. However, they played only three masterpieces from those glorious days: the cover “Circle of the Tyrants” from Cause of Death, “I am in Pain” from The End complete, and, for closure, “Don’t Care” from World Demise. Many of us were expecting more classic songs on the setlist, but they were more focused on the albums Frozen in Time, Inked in Blood, and Obituary. Aside from these, they also presented the new single “The Wrong Time,” which has the same OBITUARY sound, but I smell a rock-and-roll and MOTORHEAD vibe, a way of having more fun while playing live. It’s always an honor and a total pleasure to see these legends still rocking on a stage.
In order to continue talking about legends and watching them live, we went outside and grabbed some beers because the night was about to get gory. It was time to beer up and smell the CARCASS. “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue” from the Despicable EP surprised me as an opening track, but believe me, the rotten thrashy harmony along with that mid-paced tempo make for the perfect icebreaker. “Buried Dreams,” “Kelly’s Meat Emporium,” and “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” were great examples of the fact that the Liverpool death metal quartet was not only focused on the latest album Torn Arteries but would review its classic period. The Great Heathen Tour brought a big lineup, so CARCASS was smart and prepared a colossal setlist. They slashed the audience with “Heartwork,” “Genital Grinder,” “Corporal Jigsore Quandary,” and many more well-known songs. Jeff Walker’s scalpel still opens dead bodies with the same old-school precision. His counterpart, the Hannibal Lecter of six strings, Bill Steer, adds his refined harmonies and solos to the bloody feast. His guitar work can be compared to drinking a fine wine after conducting an exhausting, bloody autopsy. I had the privilege of seeing them live at Psycho Fest in Vegas last summer, but the show at Bayou Music Center was way more engaging and insalubrious
“Guardians of Asgaard” announced the Viking invasion of Bayou Music Center, and Odin started to reign. The three previous heavyweights killed it on stage, but there was no doubt that all these leather jackets were waiting for the Swedish heathens AMON AMARTH. I have no words to describe what happened when “The Pursuit of Vikings” sounded on the PA system; we all feasted in Valhalla for more than four minutes. We experienced rowing on a Viking vessel while crossing the North Sea on a stormy night with “Put Your Back into the Oar,” a single released this year.
The invading five-piece conquered the auditorium. They performed songs from almost every album but mostly from the latest, which named the tour, and from the highly acclaimed 2016 Jomsviking. They were really smart while choosing the setlist. And when the Houstonian village was almost exterminated, they brought out “Raise the Horns” and knocked us down with the classic “Twilight of the Thunder God.” The result was a totally wasted battlefield, and we thanked our executioners by raising our beers in the air.
It was a hell of a night with good friends and music. I really need to highlight the sound quality at this venue; whether it was the technicians or the PA system itself, the sound is truly like no other in this city. The Great Heathen Tour has been a total success all over the country, and Houston was not the exception; AMON AMARTH didn’t have any problems here. The after party continued at a taco bar downtown, where we headed to clear our minds and feed our monsters. Thanks to metal store Rocko’s for the invite and Liz Ciavarella (Earsplit PR) for giving Scriptorium Magazine access to review this show. Beers up!
Text: Alex Sanchez
Pictures: Michel Sanchez