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The Black Dahlia Murder - February 17, 2009 - The Button Factory, Dublin, IR

By: Ken McGrath

The biggest worry before the gig was that the flyer had it advertised as a 14+ show, which meant there was a good chance there’s be no booze, which thankfully wasn’t the case. The odd beer usually helps with the enjoyment of metal in a live setting and it gives you something to do if the band doesn’t exactly tickle your head-banging nerve, as happens with Tasmania’s Psycroptic. The occasional Meshuggah-type jarring riff aside there’s little to excite to ears, rendering them fairly forgettable. The crowd gathered in front of the stage lap it up, though, which probably means some more time spent with the album should reveal layers lost in translation from the stage.

No such problem with Cephalic Carnage though. Instantly engaging and thoroughly, reliably, interesting live they never take themselves too seriously while simultaneously pummelling the crowd with grind-ish riffs and big beats and a chuddering bass sound. The pig-squeal-grunt to cleanish growl vocals sometimes dip in the mix, but the overall feeling isn’t misplaced. The last time these guys played here was last year in the dingy front bar of Fibbers to a tiny crowd, so it’s good to see them get such a great reaction. You have to wonder though, if The Black Dahlia Murder weren’t on the bill would this many people have come down to check out Cephalic Carnage on their own? Fuck it though, hopefully the boys have won themselves over some new fans, so next time they’re playing Fibbers the place will be rammed to the room. Between calls for people to get stoned with them after the show they manage to suitably impress with furious tears through “Hybrid” and “Lucid Interval,” a nice collision of death and grind, that culminates in a masked black metal, less fun loving incarnation of themselves wrecking havoc.

A tough act to follow, but one which The Black Dahlia Murder mange, like stepping over the corpse of a stranger on a battlefield, never looking down, eyes pointed forwards and set to kill. A much more polished, cleaner band (and not in a bad way) their death metal for the new century is greeted with applause from the first distorted riff to the last conducting wave of singer Trevor Strnad’s hand.

What’s fascinating about BDM is how they’ve achieved something without watering it down or pandering to styles. What they play isn’t the death metal of old your average Obituary fan is going to club you to death for, but it’s also not sanitised, breakdown heavy type which is rampaging across the internet at the moment. It’s something else, something in-between, something better. Take the awesome “Everything Went Black.” Sharp, jagged riffs which never pile up on top of themselves and plenty of room to induce headbanging in the chorus, all led forwards by Strnad’s perfectly pitched, morphing vocals, or the jerking “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse” or “Miasma” or pretty much everything else they come out with. It’s unrelenting, but never overpowering and with Strnad as a focal point, shirt off, moving constantly, arms twitching, switching from bellow to screech they don’t put a foot wrong all night.

Material from all three albums flow together perfectly and new guitarist Ryan Knight (ex Arsis) has slotted in perfectly to the role. For a band that you’d probably consider to not be very well known and who’re making their first appearance on these shores they certainly leave a good aftertaste. A fucking triumph of a show (and not just because of the bar).


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