Cannibal Corpse / Hatebreed / Unearth / Born of Osiris / Hate Eternal Sound Academy, Toronto, ON December 16

Cannibal Corpse / Hatebreed / Unearth / Born of Osiris / Hate Eternal Sound Academy, Toronto, ON December 16
Like stepping into something out of the 1990s, the Sound Academy was a wonderland of long-sleeved T-shirts, black nail polish, unusual piercings and Gothic makeup for this particular line-up of guttural grunting, supersonic guitar riffs and face-smashing drum tempos.

Kicking off with relentless aggression that set a fast pace and high bar, death metal mavens Hate Eternal were vicious and uncompromising in their goal to obliterate eardrums. Garnering immediate attention, their efforts were not in vain as the audience was duly roused into action, cheering them on.

Engagement subsided somewhat for Born of Osiris (who clearly should have swapped spots with Hate Eternal) until Unearth took to the stage with the bravado only young men can muster. Plenty of windmilling hair and arms thrown up in expectation for rousing response accompanied their own rumbling dirge, which was perfectly executed even if one song melded right into the next.

Regardless of any previous efforts, from the moment lights hit gore-grind gurus Cannibal Corpse's banner until the last beat of their pounding onslaught, the audience proved these Florida-cum-Buffalo boys were champions of the eve. Running through a fine selection of ravenous cacophony that spanned their two decades of releases, the Corpse focused more on newer material such as Kill, The Wretched Spawn and Evisceration Plague, while still offering favourites from the likes of Butchered at Birth and Tomb of the Mutilated. Hot, sweaty and exhausted, band and crowd alike expelled every bit of headbanging energy they could muster for the group's hour-plus set, leaving a major high point for hardcore headliners Hatebreed to follow.

Unsurprisingly, this was a mark Hatebreed strived to match but sorely missed. Following up the extreme overkill of Cannibal Corpse is virtually impossible on a good day. To give credit, Hatebreed did bound about with enthusiasm and were tight and upbeat. However, their set was tainted from the get-go after witnessing a drum tech freak out on a nine year-old kid — who was clearly sacrificing the next day's school time to see his heroes in action — and kick him off the side stage. Such behaviour pretty much destroyed any of Hatebreed's years of preaching about the need for unity and brotherhood, rendering them hypocrites. No, it wasn't Jasta's fault, but his employees are ambassadors of his empire and this particular emissary fucked up royally for all to see.

And it's not like they didn't need the tyke there either. Even Hatebreed had to have noticed how virtually half the crowd vacated after Cannibal Corpse effectively tore us all a new one.