The Black Dahlia Murder @ The Rave
To me, there is nothing better than getting back to club shows after a very long hiatus. Just like most of the World getting back to normal after a life-altering event (in some cases) is the best remedy. Music is the escape. It always will be, so no better way for me to jump back into it than heading into Milwaukee. The Rave room at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom is my favorite venue in the country. The historical aspect and ghost stories are very well known within the music business. The Rave 1 room is a wide-open room with an upper level that wraps the entire lower floor. There are 3 bars in the hallways that surround the main room. Off to stage left, there is a separate bar room or cocktail lounge as it is labeled. The interior is dark but the walls are painted with all sorts of images of musicians and randomness. My description does not do the venue justice.
During the pandemic lockdowns across the country, The Black Dahlia Murder released their ninth studio album, “Verminous”. Sirius XM Liquid Metal played “Verminous” every hour, on the hour. Coming off of arguably their most popular album “Nightbringers”, the stakes were high for them to produce the classic TBDM sound while continuing to push the envelope of melody and mood. Mission accomplished. This was a major reason I wanted to attend the show as media. The transition from album to the stage. All in all, it was completely seamless. The setlist consisted of songs from every studio album. Each one fed into the next. No real dead space throughout the show. Just the occasional guitar change or tuning. The lighting started out with the Vernimous green drenching the stage and then alternated between red and blue the entire set. From the get-go, the pit had bodies being flung around. When the bodies started to come flying over the top of the front rail, I knew we were in for a level of epic I haven’t been able to experience in a while. Hell, I was kicked in the back of the head by a crowd surfer and was okay with it. It was one of those types of things.
The power and straight brutality were on full display. I am a person who always wants to catch an artist at the beginning of tours before they settle in for the duration. The vocal assault by Trevor Strnad was accompanied by a multitude of smiles, devil horns, finger points, belly pats, and hearts. The man was genuinely glad to be there. A refreshing sight after a year plus of no shows. Strnad, had full control of his vocals. Growl after growl, scream after scream, nothing was out of place. Having last seen him perform on the Miasma tour cycle it was a more commanding performance. Controlled chaos if you will. Fellow Co-founder Brian Eschbach, had quite the performance himself. The rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist laid down those sweet, sweet death metal riffs with ease while not really moving away from a 10x10 area on stage left. When he did move in front of one of the microphones to the front of the stage his vocals were accompanied with wide eyes and the occasional smirk or smile. Across the stage lead guitarist, Brandon Ellis, attacked with precision and ripped through the strings like a technician at work. Riff for riff was accompanied by every melody that Eschbach laid down. It is fair to say the guitar pairing has raised the stakes in the American death metal scene. When they jumped right into the title track “Verminous” and then “Nightbringers”. Ellis made it look so simple. Whether he was hair flipping through solos or resting the guitar on the hip and interacting with the crowd I remained blown away by his execution. His hands moved across the guitar fret with a mechanical and technical type of comfort. The rhythm section were thunderous and jived in tune with each other. Max Lavelle shook the room with one leg up on the monitor and a consistent headbang. The man had a smile the whole time.
The evening couldn’t have been a more welcomed night back to live music and rowdy pits. TBDM were at their peak. It was quite obvious to everyone in the room that these men love what they do and artistic creativity seeps out of their pores. If you happened to miss this show you have made a grave mistake.
I Will Return
Removal of The Oaken Stake
Everything Went Black
On Stirring Seas
Child of The Night
Kings of The Night World
What a Horrible Night To Have a Curse
As Good As Dead