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Black Dahlia Murder - March 23, 2010 - Mr. Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA

By: David E. Gehlke

Not too shabby of a turnout for Black Dahlia Murder; perhaps the result of the band's tireless touring schedule and energetic live shows. Mr. Smalls (which has grown into the preeminent mid-sized concert venue in Pittsburgh) was approaching a sell-out...on a Tuesday, no less. Again, not too shabby. What was shabby was our late arrival, forcing us to miss the opening of Hatesphere’s set. This scribe is apparently incapable of understanding that a 7:00 PM EST start-time means...a 7:00 PM EST start time.

This is the type of bill that appeared to be hand-picked by BDM, as neither Hatesphere, Augury and Obscura are major players on the North American concert scene. Especially Hatesphere, who were making their intrepid first visit to American shores. Blistering was able to catch up with Hatesphere guitarist Pepe Hansen after the band's set, who relayed the usual logistical issues in touring this country (i.e. bad food, long drives, weird venues, etc.). The Danes were impressive, as expected, with tracks from their latest, To the Nines comprising the bulk of the selist. Hopefully a return to these shores will warrant a longer set time and some gems from Bloodred Hatred.

Augury, on the other hand, were made to look puny in comparison to Obscura. Both bands are mirror images of each other, but in terms of presentation and actual songs, the Germans have the French-Canadians beat by a long-shot. It's not like Augury is bad per se, they were just overmatched tonight, even with singer Patrick Loisel's funny in-between song banter. The dudes can definitely shred, though, as songs from Fragmentary Evidence translated surprinsgly well (i.e. you could hear the instruments) in the cavernous halls of Mr. Smalls.

Finding their Cosmogenesis album to have some life to it a year after its release, Germany's Obscura in some eyes, were the highlight of the evening. While the band is hardly imposing visually (bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling looked a bit too studuios to be a in tech-death band), they were practically flawless in their execution. Culling largely from Cosmogenesis, Obscura raced through "Universe Momentum," "Orbital Elements" and "Anticosmic Overload" with ease. Drummer Hannes Grossman has become an emerging skinsmn, obliterating his kit (which wasn't triggered, thank God) throughout the set, even tossing in a drum solo that elicited a rapturous response from the crowd. For music that is this technical and intricate, Obscura had little trouble taking over the show.

Suffice it to say, Deflorate is far from Black Dahlia Murder's finest hour, yet that didn't deter an overwhelming response to the Michigan death metallers. Opening with "Funeral Thirst," BDM quickly tore the place up, as the crowd swelled to a frenzy. Now, Blistering has seen BDM on a handful of occasions (some played to not-so filled halls), so to see such a response was a bit surprising, but methinks that’s what relentless touring will do for ya.

Vocalist Trevor Strnad is still one of the most fun frontmen to watch, as he’s having fun, flailing his arms and hamming-it up for the crowd. Set highlights included “Statutory Ape,” “Elder Misanthropy,” “What A Horrible Night To Have a Curse” and newbies “Necropolis” and “A Selection Unnatural.” Somehow, the band crammed it all into an hour-long set and the throng didn’t entirely dissipate. Rather, they begged for more, but alas, BDM doesn’t do phony encores – they just look about as unassuming of a death metal band as possible and bolt.

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