(Our Nottingham-based writer Andy Synn reviews the live carnage of The Black Dahlia Murder and Aborted in Manchester, England, on Sept 21, 2013.)
What a line-up, right? There was no way I was going to miss this show. Even going so far as to reschedule a Bloodguard practice for midday in order to give me enough time to get back, get changed, and head out again on my road trip across to Manchester.
So that’s what I did. Finished practice, pelted to the car, shot home, sorted my shit, out and dived back in the car. 80.5 miles. Approximately 2 hours travel time. Easy.
Hit a bit of traffic on the way, but no major issues. Navigated Manchester town centre without hassle (I grew up round there, so have a bit of an advantage) and parked up, finally rocking up to the venue just before seven…
I missed Revocation.
That’s right. It turns out that the information I had been given wasn’t quite accurate. Doors weren’t at 6:15… the first band was on at 6:15. Which meant that Revocation finished their set bang on 6:45, an irritating 5 minutes before I walked in the door.
Still, missing out on Revocation’s hybrid tech/death/thrash did have the knock-on effect of making the rest of the evening one unadulterated smorgasbord of pure death metal delights.
The Belgian ball-crushers known as Aborted hit the stage at 7:00pm sharp and dropped straight into a truly frenzied “Meticulous Invagination”, following this up with a brutal, bile-soaked version of “Coronary Reconstruction”.
Their mechanically tight, squealing, squalling death metal whirlwind was simply devastating. Every perverted, tormented riff, every thunderous barrage of bludgeoning staccato grind, detonated with the impact of a bunker buster. You could almost see the waves of sheer force washing over the crowd.
It’s amazing how the band manage to sound simultaneously slick and professional, yet also sick and reprehensible. Much of this is down to the fact that the group are all phenomenal musicians individually as well as a fiendishly tight unit.
Ken Bedene is by far one of extreme metal’s most underrated talents, absolutely dominating behind the kit, while both guitarists – particularly Danny Tunker (ex-God Dethroned, ex-Prostitute Disfigurement) – absolutely killed it onstage, ripping out a scalding torrent of filthy death metal riffage.
Mainman Sven de Caluwe was his usual ebullient self – aggressive yet amiable, perverted yet eminently personable (despite a few ill-judged bits of onstage banter… are we really still calling people “fags” for not circle pitting hard enough?) – with a voice vile and vicious enough to inflict actual physical wounds.
Personal highlights for me were a voracious rendition of “Hecatomb” (still one of my favourite Aborted tracks), a grim and oppressive run-through of “Expurgation Euphoria”, and the final climactic spasms of “The Saw and The Carnage Done”.
Crushing. Utterly, utterly crushing.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER
The five man murder machine called The Black Dahlia Murder took the stage next to a rapturous welcome. Kicking straight into a blistering rendition of “In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me”, the band proceeded to gift us with over an hour of wickedly sharp riffs, scything leads and brutalising, chugging heaviness, all capped off with Trevor’s fantastic, inimitable roar and Alan Cassidy’s lethally precise drumming.
There was a resounding cheer when Trevor finally removed his shirt, as the appearance of his naked torso is basically a Pavlovian signal these days that things are going to get rowdy. And things certainly got rowdy alright, with the fans going suitably apeshit during each and every song. There were crowdsurfers galore, a seemingly endless stream of stagedivers, and some truly impressive circle pits.
(A quick aside – stage divers… well done for getting up there. It looks like a lot of fun. But this show is not about you, so get the fuck off stage as quickly as you can. No one paid to see your prepubescent mug up there. Oh, and definitely don’t get up there and proceed to steal water from the band. Who the fuck do you think you are???)
Anyway… the Michigan mentalists managed to touch on every one of their albums over the course of their set, even dipping back into Unhallowed for a quick blast through old school classics “Funeral Thirst” and “Closed Casket Requiem”.
We were treated to a storming run-through of “Statutory Ape” from Miasma, while Nocturnal was represented by a furious “Everything Went Black” (still one of the band’s greatest tunes) and an unexpected(ly awesome) “Deathmask Divine”.
From Ritual we got an incredibly catchy “Moonlight Equilibrium” and a rumbling, groove-laden rendition of “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood”, while Deflorate was touched on in the technical twists and turns of “Necropolis”, and a phenomenal penultimate version of “I Will Return”.
The lion’s share of the evening though was given over to songs culled from the group’s latest album, clocking up an impressive seven cuts – from the syncopated death march of “Into The Everblack” to the distinctly black-metal tinged “Every Rope A Noose”, culminating in a thoroughly evil “Map of Scars”, which served as a brilliant send off for the evening.
Absolutely stunning, as always.