It’s been fifteen years since The Black Dahlia Murder came into existence and since then they have mostly spent their times honing their craft as Death metal songwriters, constantly hitting that sweet spot between euphoric leads and ecstatic violence, like slashing the throat of a dragon after a long and brutal battle. For two nights they were supposed to headline the Underworld with two long sets but the presence of Abbath on the following day decided otherwise and turned them into opening acts for the Norwegian legend of black metal. Frustrating for a fan of The Black Dahlia Murder, like myself, but still entertaining enough to not break my enthusiasm.
The first band on-stage when I enter the Underworld is Benighted (I missed Ingested) and the room is already packed for the grinding Death metal. The frenchmen don’t deliver anything new but they always do it well. Unlike their « rivals » in Aborted, the other big Death grind band, they have maintained a high level of quality without falling for any trend. There is a lot of meat on these riffs and even more to chew if you enjoy the chainsaw-like precision of their breakdown. Otherwise, the sound is correct but the triggered drums are a little bit too loud for my taste and sometimes over power the riffs.
Thankfully, the headliners don’t have to suffer this problem as they come on-stage with the opening track of their new album, Receipt, and batter their audience with some frenetic leads. This newbie is quickly followed by one of their live staple, What a horrible night to have a curse and everybody is now ready to go for an hour and twenty minutes of blistering Death metal. The decade spent on-stage for both frontman Trevor Strnad and guitarist Brian Eschbach have made them experts in crushing audiences.
Strnad‘s delivery is particularly impressive as he doesn’t seem to breath at any point and constantly screams like a possessed story teller. Eschbach on the other hand has a well practiced right hand, perfectly in tune with the machine gun rhythmic full of double bass. Most of the extra members are more recent addition to the band, having only been in it since 2012, but they deliver what is expected of them without any frills.
Lead guitarist Ryan Knight (ex. Arsis) is nowhere to be found, despite being listed on the liner not of the band’s new album, and has been replaced by a younger man called Brandon Ellis (according to Metal Sucks) and also of Arsis fame. Nonetheless, the musician is also quite capable and it’s a pity that his fretwork cannot be heard clearly from the opposite side of the stage.
Despite this change, the band delivers a set list that goes all over their discography, going back and forth from Unhallowed with the intro followed by Funeral thirst, Miasma with Built for sin, A vulgar picture, I’m charming, Statutory ape or the title track, Nocturnal with Deathmask divine and Everything went black, Ritual with Moonlight equilibrium (a song about turning into a werewolf according to Strnad) and On stirring seas of salted blood. Raped in hatred by vines of thorn from Everblack concludes the first part of the set but the band doesn’t even bother getting out of the stage and just continues playing despite Eschbach having announced that this was their last song. The Black Dahlia Murder are definitely determinated as they don’t even let the fire alarm stop them and even try to drown out its sound. Thankfully, no major problem occurred and the set list was concluded with the rather hopeful message of I will return from Deflorate. Seventeen songs later and everybody seemed happy but some, like me, were still ready to see them again the following night.