Last night kicked off a month chock-full of shows for me and I couldn't think of a better way to start off the festivities then with three of my favorite bands on the planet in The Black Dahlia Murder, Skeletonwitch and Fallujah at The Met in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
The timing of this show could not have worked out better. I had tickets to the New England Patriots/Miami Dolphins game and Gillette Stadium is located about a half-hour away from Pawtucket. When the tour was announced, my buddies and I decided to head down to Rhode Island after the game for the show since we were already really close. As I had anticipated, this was a brilliant choice and capped off an already amazing day on an even higher note.
After getting lost for a little bit (Pawtucket is incredibly poorly-marked and the sign for the venue was unlit and obstructed from the street,) my friends and I arrived at the show around 8:25. As we arrived, Noisem was finishing up their set. Clearly I didn't see enough to give a fair assessment, but they sounded sloppy as hell live with a horrible mix that made everything indistinguishable from each other. I just checked out their new record Agony Defined and I liked it, but the limited exposure I had to their live set was not very good at all.
San Fransisco progressive/technical death metal upstarts Fallujah were up next. I had been eagerly awaiting to see them perform since I first heard their debut album, The Harvest Wombs, early last year. Out of all the promising up-and-comers in the metal scene right now, these guys are the ones I'm most excited about. With the quality of their studio material, I set the bar for their performance very high and thankfully, they delivered the goods. The rich, textured atmospheres of their studio material came across beautifully live and the heavier sections had even more crunch. The whole band played everything flawlessly and vocalist Alex Hofmann sounded even more menacing in a live environment. From a setlist perspective, they played everything I wanted to hear from them in a 25-minute set with prime cuts from The Harvest Wombs and the two centerpiece tracks from their new EP Nomadic. Really the only knock I had on their set was the sound mix. The guitars cut out multiple times during the set (more often than not during the solos) which was annoying and took away from how impressive and massive the music is. They did finally fix this problem during set closer "Assemblage of Wolves", but I would've have definitely enjoyed their set more if this issue had been corrected sooner. Sound problems aside, Fallujah is an excellent live band and I was glad I finally got to see them on one of their first tours of the East Coast.
Skeletonwitch followed and really kicked up the energy levels in the building. This show marked my sixth time seeing these guys and they never fail to bring the room down. Their no bullshit, high-energy approach to a live show is just a blast to watch. They just tear through their material with relentless intensity only stopping to make a few quick jokes after every few songs before they promptly go back to ripping the audience's face off. The setlist was nice getting a good mix of all their records into their direct support set. The material from their new record, Serpents Unleashed, particularly resonated with me. All of the new tracks sparked memories of Beyond the Permaforst, which is my favorite Skeletonwitch album and made for some of the highest points of the set. I'm absoutley elated to finally check the new album out tomorrow. My only tiny complaint is that there is a couple of older songs I would've liked to hear that they didn't play, but any set containing "Upon Wings of Black", "Of Ash and Torment" and "Within My Blood" is more than fine with me. Skeletonwitch is one of the most consistent live acts in the entire realm of modern metal and I look forward to the next opportunity I get to watch them destroy a stage.
The Black Dahlia Murder closed out the evening. As with Skeletonwitch, this was my sixth time seeing them and per usual, they were amazing. Bands like Skeletonwitch and The Black Dahlia Murder are amongst the most consistent and tightest live acts I've ever seen. You know no matter when or where the show is, they are going to come in and execute the playing of their music flawlessly and with relentless energy and passion. I will say that this performance was better than the last time I saw Black Dahlia because of the crowd. At Warped Tour in July, a lot of Black Dahlia's core fans stayed at home because of the lineup and this meant the energy level was way down compared what I'm accustomed to seeing at their shows. Thankfully last night since it was a proper headlining show, the energy in the room was electric. Trevor Strnad just brings it non-stop and the crowd gives every ounce of his fun intensity right back to him. With a good crowd and general atmosphere, this ended up being one of the strongest performances I've seen from Black Dahlia Murder. Their 75-minute set was loaded with tracks from their new record, Everblack, which all sounded amazing live. "Every Rope a Noose" and "Phantom Limb Masturbation" are easily two of the heaviest live songs in their catalog and "Goat of Departure" and "Into the Everblack" should be joining the immortal Black Dahlia set staples like "Everything Went Black" and "Statutory Ape" before long. The real surprise of the night was the presence of "Closed Casket Requiem" from their debut album Unhallowed. In all my years of seeing these guys live, I've never heard it live before and with it being one of my favorite songs of theirs, my eyes lit up when they played it and it ended up being one of the strongest songs of the night. The Black Dahlia Murder is a band that not only cemented themselves as modern legends of death metal through their studio material: They've garnered a reputation has one of the most unwaveringly impressive live acts in the whole scene and last night was no different. This tour is a must-see if you are fortunate enough to have it come through your city. All the bands involved destroy live and as far as I'm concered, are amongst the torchbearers for the genre at the moment.
The Black Dahlia Murder 9.5/10
1/31 Machine Head
3/14 Dropkick Murphys