A serious case of deja vu and nostalgia floods accompanied The Black Dahlia Murder when they stormed through The Glass House last week. Why you ask? Well you see...
Dahlia and Skeletonwitch both played The Glass House together in 2009 when they opened for Children of Bodom and nearly brought the walls down in the process. Also, I've been following TBDM since the beginning. I bought their debut album Unhallowed (RIP Tower Records) shortly after it's release, and caught them playing with Arch Enemy & Hate Eternal in fall 2003...so far back that only ONE dude from that original show is still with the band. A decade later and The Black Dahlia Murder were headlining their own sold out gig at The Glass House. I've watched the venues grow in size (the Troubadour, the Roxy, the Key Club, House of Blues, Ozzfest,) and the endless stream of drummers shuffle in (Cory, Zach, Pierre Shannon, now Alan), observing every incarnation of the band, save for their formative years in Michigan. This show in Pomona felt like a strange circle of life moment, but with blast beats and sweaty mosh pits.
Thrashing newcomers Noisem where supposed to open the show but alas, they were involved in some kind of van accident in Northern California and didn't make it. This meant our early arrival was all for naught. Bummer. Fallujah is a band I've seen in passing a few times before, always catching their last song and thinking, "they're ok." What a shame, I finally manage to catch a full set from the band and I'm bored to tears. Don't get me wrong, everyone in the band are excellent musicians and had great energy onstage...but the songs were just a little too generic and sterile for my tastes.
As soon and Skeletonwitch left the stage and the huge banner with TBDM's logo became visible, it became crystal clear who the headliners were. As impressive as Skeletonwitch were (they stole the show IMO), The Black Dahlia Murder are less a touring band at this point than a heavy metal juggernaut.
It's strange, despite their numerous lineup changes over the years, the key to Dahlia's success is: consistency. They've basically toured nonstop for the past decade (so much so that I've lost count of how many times I've seen them) and have released new albums every two years like clockwork. This has enabled the band to remain fresh in the often fickle metal world, incorporating new and younger fans with every album cycle. Their sound hasn't changed too drastically since 2003, but they've somehow morphed into a seminal group for many a young metal fan, figure heads, like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse before them.
I shit you not, as I surveyed the crowd during TBDM's set, the number of kids singing song lyrics was astronomically high. Of course I've kept up with the band's newer material, 2011's Ritual grew on me overtime....I'm still getting into their new record Everblack, but the "old stuff" (Unhallowed, Miasma and Nocturnal) is what gets my tail wagging. The kids in attendance however, they knew and loved it all. The crowd was almost more interesting to watch than the band. Like I said before, at this stage in the game TBDM is a well oiled machine onstage. You know exactly what you're going to get watching them steamroll through songs at a live show. It's the equivalent of a tank crushing a row of Volkswagens. Did I miss Shannon Lucas behind the drums? Yes. Yes I did, but the new guy Alan held everything down on the kit just fine. The band played a lot of songs from their last three albums (aka the Ryan Knight era), which left no room for classics like "A Vulgar Picture" "Nocturnal" "or "Miasma," hell I'd have been stoked for "Black Valor" but alas, oh wells. New jams like "Goat of Departure" and "Raped In Hatred by Vines of Thorn" brought the excitement levels inside The Glass House to 1000%, so it's all good.