Tonight’s gig might as well be at the Freeze as opposed to the Fleece – the cold snap is finally upon us and biting savagely. Critics might say this is the reason why Venom Prison (8) attract a a sizeable portion of the crowd tonight as punters hop inside to get warm, but the truth is they have heads looking round impressed at the barrage of noise coming from the stage. They gave everyone a firm wake up call at the Bristol installment of Ghostfest last September and they do the same again here, making good use of the limited stage space to deliver a relentless onslaught of Machine Head-meets-Heart of a Coward groove. A little stage talk here and there wouldn’t go amiss, but credit to having an attitude of squeezing in as much as possible and letting the music do the talking.
By contrast, France’s Benighted (8) spend the first 15 minutes of their set awkwardly tuning up and soundchecking due to technical problems. But when they finally get going it’s clearly time well spent. Loud, raucous and incredibly tight, they blaze through the remaining 35 minutes of their time with utmost aplomb. Vocalist Julien Truchan is utterly terrifying; part Jens Kidman from Meshuggah, part Till Lindemann from Rammstein, he gurns and lashes his tongue whilst playing along in perfect time with Kevin Foley’s blastbeats on his fingers. Highlights include the brilliantly titled Let the Blood Spill Between My Broken Teeth and the to-the-point Slut and there’s even the odd pit here and there. Making new fans on this tour won’t be a problem at all.
Three songs into The Black Dahlia Murder (9) and Trevor Strnad asks for crowd-surfers. Bedlam ensues for the rest of the show. There isn’t a single song from then on where at least one person from the audience isn’t on stage – and the band play another fourteen after On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood. Picking highlights is impossible because it’s all brilliant. From the crushing power of Funeral Thirst to the bruising I’m Charming, it’s clear that The Black Dahlia Murder are finally ready to become one of the biggest metal bands around and my word they deserve it. Strnad leads them superbly, a giant of a man whose only moment of panic comes at the end of Deathmask Divine when he loses his glasses. Brandon Ellis, stepping in on this tour for guitarist Ryan Knight, deftly plays solo after solo with ease as if he’s been in the band for years. By the end of the evening, circle pits have taken over the venue (not always easy due to the supporting pillars) and ears have taken an absolute battering. It might be cold outside, but The Black Dahlia Murder have given everyone a fire inside that burns long into the night.
The Black Dahlia Murder setlist
What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse
On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
Threat Level No. 3
Vlad, Son of the Dragon
Everything Went Black
A Vulgar Picture
Raped in Hatred by Vines of Thorn
I Will Return
All photos in this review are from the Dublin show due to serious illness affecting one of our staff in Bristol. (Get well soon Becky). Massive thanks to www.overdrive.ie for granting permission to use the photos taken by Down The Barrel Photography.