The month of January is often a quiet with regards to gigs. So coming just after Christmas and before a lot of touring bands hit out shores, DME Promotions have a couple of different options in the last couple of weeks. Tonight we get an excellent death metal lineup, from the US, France and Dublin taking to the stage in the Voodoo Lounge.
First up we get a band that have been one of Dublin’s finest for more than ten years now, Warpath – their uncompromising style, the in your face presence of vocalist Darren Keogh and general pulverizing sound, has always made them one of my favorite Irish death metal bands. As always they waste no time at this very early hour in the evening and set about smashing the assembled crowd with a tremendous force.
Although the band haven’t a new release to promote at the moment, their early music still holds up well live. Nothing ever seems to phase the lads, they work their way through anything that happens around them, case in point when Dario (Drums) had a drumstick literally fly out of his hand to the middle of the stage, you didn’t notice them skipping a beat. One thing I wish, is that we get to see these guys live more often and that they get a chance to release some new material soon, always an excellent band. Has to be noted too, that at the end of the set the tour manager arrived at the front of stage with a large round of shots for the band, very nice touch and should be seen more often. 4.5/5
Having always found French death metal bands to be a little hit and miss, I was interested to see Benighted on their first trip to Ireland. And WOW did they show me, what an excellent performance, start to finish, this was definitely one of the tightest and most polished DM sets I’ve seen period. Front-man Julien Trochan prowls the stage, at times menacing and at times with a comedic touch, there was certainly a touch of Frank Mullen (Suffocation) about Julien’s performance in sheer presence and delivery. The band are as tight as you get, without severe pain.
With eighteen years of experience under their belts, perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise that they are so tight and professional sounding, but it’s certainly not always the case, tonight’s set is predominantly made up of songs from the last two albums “Asylum Cave” and 2014’s monster “Carnivore Sublime”. Highlights for me were ‘Experience Your Flesh’, ‘Swallow’ and ‘Let The Blood Spit Between Your Broken Teeth’ (go check the video for that one if you aren’t familiar with the band). The crowd had swelled significantly throughout the set and the action was picking up too, simply everything was getting louder, more sweaty and intense, great stuff and everything sounds great too. Having noticed when they hit the stage, that their drummer Kevin Foley had a very Irish look about him, after all ginger beards aren’t everywhere, so wasn’t a huge surprise when Julien introduced it as being a special night for him being half Irish. They may have been a support band, but there’s no doubt we would like to have them back doing a headline show sooner rather than later, as they gave the crowd what they were looking for they fed off the energy being pushed back at them, that’s when you start feeling you at something above the normal. As the crowd surfers and stage divers started to get themselves properly warmed up, there is more pushing to the front, proper DM, thanks Benighted and come back soon. 5/5
Collection Of Dead Portraits
Experience Your Flesh
Let The Blood Spit Between Your Broken Teeth
Unborn Infected Children
And finally we get to our headliners. The Black Dahlia Murder have achieved massive amounts of critical acclaim over the last few years in particular, having released their finest albums to date 2013’s ‘Everblack’ and 2015’s brilliant ‘Abysmal’. The darkness of the Voodoo Lounge is suddenly pierced by shouts and cheering as the band are making their way to the stage, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a big crowd in the venue and that TBDM have been highly anticipated, you can just feel that this is going to be intense.
The room is buzzing, having been at the front for everything so far it’s sometimes a little difficult to notice just how many people are behind you, but generally when you turn around and start finding it difficult to see the back half of the room from the sound desk, it’s a good sign things are busy, the fact that the temperature has been steadily increasing is another good sign. With the band on stage and getting themselves ready to launch into opening track ‘Receipt’, which is a great powerful beast, from the aforementioned ‘Abysmal’ album, it’s quite noticeable the broad smile on vocalist Trevor Strnad’s face, they almost look like they have arrived home, but nobody was fooled into believing this was a comfort show when the music started.
The current lineup has been together since before the release of the ‘Everblack’ album and there’s something very fun about their delivery, yes it’s “Melodic Death Metal”, but nobody ever said it shouldn’t be enjoyable and you shouldn’t have a good vibe watching it. This performance makes that happen. The guitars were born in Europe with a definite nod to Scandinavian sounds and ‘Heartwork’ era of Carcass.
Once again this band is just so tight, the drums are a thing of beauty and the bass just merges in. There isn’t a lot of messing around between songs, enough banter to keep everything rolling along nicely. The stage diving picks up a notch, as we move through the set with a small enough, but active pit in the center of the area in front of the stage.
The recent changes to the venue mean that it’s more comfortable to watch a show from a little further back in the venue with more room at the sides, this will help any show with a decent crowd and is definitely welcome. As the band blasts through a couple of tracks from earlier TBDM albums, we hit a couple of their best from last years ‘Abysmal’ album, and they are cracking songs, ‘Threat Level No.3’ is a very thrashy track, mixed in with some more extreme growling and ‘Vlad, Son Of The Dragon’ is an excellent song, the breakneck pace is relentless, as it should be, but there’s something so damn accessible about the way they deliver everything. With Trevor helping eager stage divers safely to the stage, the focus is definitely on making the set as good as it can be for the crowd and they have to be commended for the effort they put in from the first note till the last. It would be remiss of me to not mention the fact that tonight we are missing Ryan Knight (Guitar) from the line up and he appears to be replaced on this tour by Brandon Ellis (Arsis, Cannabis Corpse), there hasn’t been any updates or information from the band, but hey-ho.
There’s no filler here, running through tracks from different albums and era’s of the band so smoothly, with Brian Eschbach (Guitar) adding some funny and quirky comments out of nowhere. TBDM are a very impressive band, terrific live. I took the opportunity to move towards the middle of the venue for the last section of the set, just to get a different viewpoint and it was great to see a very healthy crowd right the way back. Having loaded the first half of the set with newer material, the second half brings us back to their first few albums and the tracks still sound great live, the set passes by in a blink of an eye and sadly comes to an end with, ‘I Will Return’. A great way to finish and a sentiment that will hopefully come to fruition soon.
All in all, a brilliant night! What an amazing start to the year gig wise, tonight was just one of those “so glad I was there” ones, three bands giving their all, great performances, all different within a similar style of music and each giving it 100%. If the year continues with gigs of this standard, we are in for a very special 2016 indeed and if you missed out this time, make sure you don’t make that mistake the next time TBDM are in town.
The Black Dahlia Murder Set-List
What A Horrible Night For A Curse
On Stirring Seas Of Salted Love
Threat Level No 3
Vlad, Son Of Dragon
Everything Went Black
A Vulgar Picture
Raped In Hatred By Vines Of Thorns
I Will Return
Check out the full photo gallery from the show below.
Words – Stephen Brophy
Photos – Down The Barrel Photography © 2016