Monday 7 October 2013

Black Dahlia Murder, Aborted, Revocation - Live Review - Manchester, UK 21/09/2013

With NQ Live, the usual haunt for so many metal bands that visit this once industrial powerhouse of a city, burnt down, bands are having to find new venues and fast. Surprisingly the Band on the Wall was more than happy to help out. A venue used to hosting jazz, soul and blues bands; a death metal gig, featuring a strong line up of metallic bruisers, was a first.

Consequently, the first circle pits that open up during Revocation’s set are the first the venue has ever seen. Drummer Phil Durbois-Coyne sets an unrelenting and unforgiving heartbeat to the set, the double bass rarely being given time to breathe. It sets the tone for the rest of the evening, as bodies fling themselves at one another in the virgin pits and beer glasses and horns are tossed into the air in equal measure. Their set, dominated by tracks from their new self-titled record, is draped in lavish lead guitar work and Megadeth style riffage all the while battling with a thunderous, death metal aggression. During sound check, they had the floor shaking, during their actual set, things were even more vicious.

The stunning Invidious was a definite highlight, vocalist/guitarist Dave Davidson staring demonically at the on-looking audience as he tore through some truly stunning thrashing riffs. Bearing in mind that their set early set began at 6:15, the crowd they were performing to was an impressive size. The reaction they gave was equally as impressive as it was deserved for a band this wealthy of talent.  

With interview duties to fulfil, I missed the beginning of Aborted’s set. The floor above me began shaking at a ridiculous magnitude as they tore into their set. That was enough to entice several people to run upstairs like children on Christmas morning. By the time I made my own way upstairs, it was clear that this band had the audience right where they wanted them, a wall of death confirming this all too chaotically. Perhaps a little heavier and more in line with tonight’s headliners than Revocation were, the intensity of their set is bewildering. Bands and fans a-like windmill constantly as frontman Sven de Caluwé’s growls demanded your attention and got it in spades. His stage presence both terrifying and captivating, he was the catalyst for the band’s triumphant set, one that left The Black Dahlia Murder with some stiff competition to fend off.      

Yet, they made their response look almost effortless. As they took to the stage, there was a real sense of occasion in the air. Not only has their latest album Everblack been hailed as their best yet by fans and critics, but after two top quality support bands, the crowd were well and truly ready to devour the main course.

Launching into a quick one-two of In Hell Is Where She Waits for Me and Goat of Departure, Everblack’s opening tracks, the audience showed just how hungry they were. 

Frontman Trevor Strnad, who compared his on-stage performances to me before the show to that of a lightning rod, proved to be just that. Bouncing ecstatically all over the stage, he looked just as happy to be there the crowd which he constantly interacted with was. A constant wave of crowd surfers would join him temporarily on stage before launching themselves back into the swaying, sweaty mass of bodies once more. It was the epitome of a heavy gig in a small venue.

Interestingly, the Band on the Wall erected a screen, which streamed the antics in the bar. There, members of Revocation, Aborted and fans mingled, drank and watched the show. It was a unique experience.  

What their tour partners witnessed on the screen was a 16 song set of some of the band’s finest cuts from their 10 year history. Strnad told me that it hasn’t felt like that long, but the tracks that they pull off Everblack – 7 in all – suggests otherwise. While time may have flew for the band, these tracks show how they have matured, grown and improved tenfold since forming in 2000.

More so, they now have a big enough back catalogue to keep their set list unpredictable, to keep fans guessing.

Yet, come the set’s conclusion, Revocation were the real winners for me. Something about their music and performance struck a chord with me, grabbed me that little bit more. For the true Black Dahlia fans here tonight though, there was only one winner.