Over the course of a career, few bands can achieve such a status wherein they become utterly synonymous with the genre they exist within. Any conversation about melodic death metal will consistently bring up a few bands: some pioneers, some who elevated the genre, and some who dominated it – but without a doubt, no discussion about melodic death metal would be complete without the inclusion of Michigan legends The Black Dahlia Murder. Almost two years after the release of the band's eighth studio record Nightbringers, The Black Dahlia Murder hit Manchester with local boys Ingested for a night of technicality, brutality, and a nostalgic trip through their back catalogue.
Getting the night started were Manchester natives, and staples of the scene Ingested (8). Bursting onto the stage with 'Sovereign', the opening track to last years album The Level Above Human, the home-town crowd immediately erupted into an impassioned melee. As is always the case when Ingested play shows in Manchester the response from the crowd was second to none – with the odd chorus of Rick Flair “Woo's” thrown in for good measure, the crowd was behind them every step of the way. Ingested's exceptional brand of extreme metal coupled with their unparalleled energy on stage always makes for an excellent night. Ending their set with one of the standout tracks from their latest album, the band finished in style with 'Invidious'. Whether in a support slot or headlining, whenever Ingested take to the stage you can always count on one thing: you're in for an absolute treat.
The lights once more faded to black and the distinctive, atmospheric intro to The Black Dahlia Murder's (9) 'Widowmaker' filled all four walls of the packed venue. As soon as the intro gave way to the iconic opening riff, the room split down the middle in anticipation for the ensuing clash. Finally, frontman Trevor Strnad took to the stage and bellowed the opening line “You're locked in my sights”, which triggered both sides of the room to collapse into each other in a barrage of flailing limbs and devil horns. The last time the band was in the UK they were direct support for Floridian death metal legends Cannibal Corpse, and now in front of a room packed with their own fans, the band are nothing short of their very best.
In a set packed with songs from some their earliest bodies of work, the band took a nostalgic trip down memory lane playing fan-favourite after fan-favourite. Throwing it all the way back to 2003, the band played tracks from Unhallowed, 2005's Miasma, and cuts from one of the bands best-loved albums, 2007's Nocturnal. Despite the inclusion of material released between 2003-2011, notable exclusions from their huge 19-song set were the entirety of the two albums preceding Nightbringers – namely 2013's Everblack and 2015's Abysmal.
Marking the midway point in the set, the band invited Ingested frontman, Jay Evans, back to the stage to perform one of The Black Dahlia Murder's most beloved tracks, 'What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse'. Whether you've been with the band since the beginning or a relatively new fan, this song never fails to unite both new and old under the banner of its universally-appealing death metal perfection. The coupling of Trevor's hauntingly powerful vocals, with that of Ingested's Jay Evans, took the song to such a level where even the biggest Black Dahlia purists would be sure to applaud.
Drawing from the usual release schedule for the band, it's likely that new music from the band can be expected in the near future. In a hopefully prophetic hint at what will be coming in the future, the band ended their mammoth 19 song set with the Deflorate era classic 'I Will Return' – prompting a mad scramble for the longest-serving die-hard fans to scramble to the front of the room to partake in the free-for-all (and perhaps grab a drum stick, plectrum, or setlist as the band depart).
There is a reason The Black Dahlia Murder have become utterly synonymous with the world of melodic death metal and there is no bigger testament to this than to witness what they can do live. This was by all accounts a “for-the-fans” set, playing some of their biggest tracks from their most loved albums, from the span of their entire career. It's no wonder they're utterly adored by their fans and critics alike when time after time they prove why they reside at the very pinnacle of the death metal mountain.