Sometimes, the bands with the most staying power are those that buck the trends. The Black Dahlia Murder’s unique sound has cemented their place atop the melodic death metal genre, and the supporting cast of After the Burial and Carnifex were sure to provide a raucous show.
Arizona Pete’s in Greensboro was packed out, but with one glaring difference from the typical metalcore gigs I’ve seen here—the boundary of the mosh pit was already forming well before the show began. Most of the time, it seems to be a spontaneously generated thing, but there seemed to be an unspoken agreement among those that lined the gaping hole in the crowd. People seemed content to stand further back to avoid encroachment on that, contrary to the usual “push to the front” mantra I’ve seen become more prevalent over the years. With that “code” in mind, it was clear that this was going to be a hell of a show.
Carnifex took the stage shrouded in a dim, red light. In promotion of their latest EP Graveside Confessions, vocalist Scott Lewis’ eyes had taken on a hollow, corpselike appearance in addition to his usual tattered stage clothes. As the sounds of gunfire and bombshells blared from the speakers, the four-piece launched into the blistering intro of “World War X.”
Brief flashes of light pierced the stage’s gloom, but atmosphere was clearly more important than spectacle. With a short offering of best hits, Carnifex didn’t have much time for theatrics—that certainly didn’t detract from the ripping pits for Slit Wrist Saviourand their most popular track Hell Chose Me to close out the set. While the crushing grooves were undeniably Deathcore, the ambience was more reminiscent of an occult black metal gig.
After the Burial’s technical brand of deathcore was a bit of a jarring shift, but a welcome one nonetheless. ATB rose to prominence several years back with the djent anthem “Lost in the Static,” and have since grown into a standard-bearer of the 000000 genre. While their focus on low-string rhythm over crazy riffage might put some more purist fans off, they’ve really grown into pioneers of this newer breed of heavy music.
Opening with your best-known song is a risky proposition for roping in new fans, but one that seemed to have paid off for ATB. “Lost in the Static” exemplifies everything that this band does well, if a bit repetitively. The main riff is infectiously bouncy, easy to follow, and blends effortlessly with vocals but doesn’t feel empty without them. While it’s the thing they do better than anyone except Meshuggah, ATB can do so much more than just chug on the low F#—and that fact is so much more evident in a live setting.
Especially on tracks like “Wolves Within” and “Collapse,” backing guitars created a rich wall of sound for the chugs to cut through. Allowing space to breathe is so important for such a relentlessly heavy band, and while ATB can crank the djent meter to 11, it doesn’t feel busy or cluttered in the least. I hadn’t seen them in a few years, and it was a treat to see how their sound and stage presence had evolved over the years. 11/10 performance, and if they were the only band you knew on the bill, their set alone would have been worth it.
After the Burial
Finally, The Black Dahlia Murder took the stage flanked by a massive, green, three-piece backdrop. The towering reproduction of their Verminous album cover bathed in green light was an imposing sight, a real testament to TBDM’s showmanship even before they took the stage.
When the set finally began, though, the energy totally change—it just felt like FUN. The brooding ambience was instantly replaced by the feeling of people just glad to be at shows again. TBDM raced through a massive, career-spanning 19-song setlist featuring fan favorites “Nocturnal,” “Nightbringers,” and “What a Horrible Night to Have A Curse,” with lesser known B-sides and rarities interspersed throughout.
All night, crowd surfers pelted the stage—and judging by vocalist Trevor Strnad’s ear-to-ear grin, that’s the exact response they were hoping for. Honestly, I don’t know TBDM’s catalogue very well, but I’ve been to plenty of death metal gigs over the years. This tour package was a no-barricade rager of a time, with something for every type of metalhead.
The Black Dahlia Murder