Live Review : The Black Dahlia Murder + Ingested @ Rebellion, Manchester on April 10th 2019

It's Wednesday night, United are entertaining Barcelona somewhere on the other side of town and it's not even eight o'clock yet, but they are already having to shoehorn people into a sold out Rebellion. Judging by the number of fake profiles on Facebook trying to scam those desperate for tickets, this is certainly Manchester’s must see metal gig of the week. On other shows on this tour The Black Dahlia Murder have shoved a bunch of much fancied local lads and lasses on first in order to whip up the crowd, but tonight they don't need to as Ingested totally fulfill the bill of local Heroes. With their drum kit almost in the audience (ROCKFLESH snapper extraordinaire Johann could have played cymbals if he wanted) they start at a gallop and from the start the pit is a flaying melting pot of sweaty bodies sporting Ingested t-shirts slamming into each other. The popularity of a support act is always identifiable by the amount of merch (if any), you see and tonight Ingested give The Black Dahlia Murder a run for their money in the most logoed garments on display department.

For two tracks they are superb; harsh, grinding and brittle Death Metal played with rapid intensity. Then Jason Evan's mic breaks, he swaps it with the static mic to his left but after one more track that also gives up the ghost. Lesser men would have crumbled at this, but Jason is a Manc and therefore a blackbelt in self-deprecating humour. The enforced hiatus becomes a lively and inpromptu audience with... as this clearly confident frontman trades insults with the pit, a good proportion evidently his mates. Barked instructions from the mixing desk result in an exchange of cables and we are off again and to reward our patience we are treated to the first airing of a new track, which turns out to be fucking brilliant. 'Mouth The Abyss' (well according to my notes that is what it is called) marks a real evolution in their sound as the sharp grinding riffs are replaced by groovier looser guitar licks that are reminiscent of Pantera at their best. It is still heavy as hell but it has insane hooks and dollops of melody that result in me barking along like I have known the track all my life. The unscheduled intermission means we only get two more songs and we are very much back to the more snarly, crunchy sound of last years “The Level Above Human”. The pit continues to heave and weave as if they are the headliners and then with a heartfelt thanks to their ecstatic hometown crowd they are gone and I am left salivating over the prospect of their new album.

I love metal for its energy, intensity and passion and gigs for me are communal and interactive experience where the audience plays as an important role as the band. Concert going should not be a passive endeavour, it should be a reactionary experience where you can let off steam and let the music move you. Well it’s safe to say that everyone in Rebellion is moved tonight as I have not seen an audience reaction like this for a good while, the swirling pit starts from the very first notes of 'Widowmaker' and as the show goes on it consumes the entire of Rebellion’s dance floor and at points it feels like every single audience member is waiting patiently in line to fling themselves from the stage back into the pit. No one stands still and watches tonight, everyone one from front to back is caught up in whirlwind of wild, raw kinetic energy that is The Black Dahlia Murder. Their brand of melodic Death Metal may not be practically sophisticated or technical but it is utterly all consuming in its brutal simplicity. This is music that bypasses your brain, goes straight to your feet and makes you move as if you were possessed.  

They are on stunningly relentless form tonight and bash out nineteen tracks from six of their nine albums in little more than an seventy five minutes. There is no airs, graces or inflated egos here, The Black Dahlia Murder are a band of the people and invite most of those people up to leap off the stage. Trevor Strnad is resplendent in ill-fitting t-shirt, shorts, white socks and trainers and looks like he has just heaved himself off his bunk on the tour bus. He however is a fantastic frontman and is at the core of all the blistering energy that is going on on stage. He also looks he is having an utter ball and fun is at the heart of everything The Black Dahlia Murder do. Their music may not bring down empires, but it will put bruises on your body and a smile on your face. The best reactions (if it is possible the ratchet up the adulation any further) are saved for ‘Contagion' and 'Funeral Thirst' from their 2003 debut and the four tracks aired from 2007’s utter sublime ‘Nocturnal’ with Ingested’s Justin Evans taking on dual vocal duties for ‘What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse' from the latter record (or at least I think it was that one, by that point I was having way too much fun to actually bother taking notes). With platitudes thrown around like confetti we end with “Deflorate”s’ fitting 'I Will Return' and for one last time the air fills with bodies and then with no encore just a heartfelt thanks and goodbye they are gone, leaving us with sore bodies and memories of a utterly brilliant evening.

Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki