The Black Dahlia Murder w/ After The Burial, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, and Undeath | Up From The Sewer Tour | Photos + Review

The Black Dahlia Murder Returns To California With A Bang Selling Out The Belasco

Date: September 18th, 2021

Venue: The Belasco in Los Angeles, CA

The Black Dahlia Murder is a band I constantly see live whenever they come through Southern California. As one of the staples of the melodic death metal genre, they are continually one-upping themselves with each record, staying true to who they are musically but constantly grinding like the madmen they are. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, a lot of their touring surrounding their newest album, “Verminous,” was put on hold, and in such, this is their first tour back after all of the chaos. Unsurprisingly, the tour sold out like crazy, with over two-thirds of the dates being completely sold out, with the others close to selling out as well. Not only did The Black Dahlia Murder play quite a stacked setlist, but they brought along a beastly lineup of bands. The supporting lineup consisted of After The Burial, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, and Undeath. With a lineup this stacked, it was no wonder why the Los Angeles date was the first on the tour to sell out.

Undeath from Rochester, New York, was the first up to the stage. Coining themselves as “skull-crushing death metal,” it is no wonder why this is the perfect term to describe these guys. Their music is HEAVY. I had to bold that word because it needed emphasis.  With a gritty barebones sound similar to staple bands of the death metal genre like Dying Fetus, Nile, Cannibal Corpse, and more, this brutal death metal style set them apart from the rest of the bands on this lineup. Their vocalist Alexander Jones did a great job of crowd management. He owned that whole stage with his’ distinct vocals that you can tell have a slight black metal influence. Bassist Tommy Wall spanked that bass to give it those deep thick tones pumping through and prominent throughout Undeath’s sound. Guitarists Jared Welch and Kyle Beam add the riffage, really adding that gritty sound that pays homage to the death metal greats that came before them. The final member that closes out the band’s lineup is their drummer Matt Browning, who plays those stank beats with precision. When listening to the band’s album and witnessing their live set, I also feel a slight thrash vibe in their music, prominent throughout the brutal death metal genre. That gritty edge was showcased on their debut album “Lesions of a Different Kind,” released in 2020 via Prosthetic Records. They played 3 songs from this release, 1 song from their 2019 independent EP “Sentient Autolysis,” and one unreleased song that I, unfortunately, do not know the name of. Overall, these guys were a great way to start out the show and really set the stage for those to come with their high energy and brutal riffs.

SETLIST

  1. Enhancing the Dead
  2. (Unknown)
  3. Acidic Twilight Visions
  4. Chained to a Reeking Rotted Body
  5. Lesions of a Different Kind

The next band up was the ever so talented Rivers of Nihil from Reading, Pennsylvania. I first saw Rivers of Nihil back in 2018 when they opened for Thy Art Is Murder and Dying Fetus, and I already thought they were great then. But boy have they risen in my ranks since then. Initially, the band’s style was very much in line with the rest of those in the technical death metal genre: fast-paced, heavy, and riffy. However, as the band found their groove and started experimenting, they started moving more into the realm of progressive metal, mixing in clean vocals, and creating a cinematic style within their music. With their new record, The Work, just weeks away from debuting to the world, we as the audience were lucky to hear two of the new songs live, those being “Clean” and “Focus.” Within the new songs, you can really hear the power of vocalist Jake Dieffenbach and bassist/clean vocalist Adam Biggs’ voices. The new songs, along with the songs from their 2018 release “Where The Owls Know My Name,” have a lot of dynamics. But it seems that Jake and Adam have a good number of trade-offs in terms of vocals with The Work. They were the only band at the show to have clean vocals, and the change really felt needed as their set was well-rounded, and I couldn’t hold back a smile underneath my mask. Drummer Jared Klein is an absolute beast behind the kit, and my eyes always go to him because some of the technical parts he plays blow me away. Guitarists Brody Uttley and Jon Topore help create the atmosphere with their melodic instrumentals, paired with Uttley’s lead guitar solos and hooks. Honestly, Rivers of Nihil continue to get better and better every time I see them, and they constantly blow away any expectations I had prior. I cannot wait to see where this band goes with the release of “The Work,” which came out in 2021 via Metal Blade Records. You MUST all check out this band and see live if you have not yet done so.

SETLIST

  1. The Silent Life
  2. Focus
  3. Clean
  4. Sand Baptism
  5. Where The Owls Know My Name

The third band up to the stage was Carnifex from San Diego, CA. Carnifex has been one of the leading deathcore bands for quite some time, being one of the genre’s founders. Coming hot off the release of their newest album, “Graveside Confessions,” out now via Nuclear Blast Records, I was stoked to hear how the new songs would sound live. The lead singles from the record “Pray For Peace” and the title track “Graveyard Confessions” sounded epic and translated very well live. The band started their set with the title track from their 2019 record, “World War X,” and also played some of the band’s most famous songs, “Slit Wrist Savior” and “Lie To My Face,” which the band re-recorded for the new album “Graveside Confessions.” The band closed out the set with the title track from their 2010 album “Hell Chose Me,” which got the crowd wild. From the start of the set to the end, I was stoked.

As usual, the band had their large lit-up pentagrams, but they also had a bright lighting setup on stage with many strobing lights that were very well lit and timed. Vocalist Scott Ian Lewis is an absolute beast on stage, genuinely taking every inch in and captivating the crowd. Carnifex was one of the first death metal bands I got into, which came with their 2016 album “Slow Death.” What drew me straight in was the symphonic backing, along with Scott’s vocals. Something evident in Carnifex’s music is just how intricate and technical their drumming parts are, and that is all courtesy of the ever so talented Shawn Cameron on drums. This dude is an absolute beast and truly has me in awe when I hear how fast some of his parts are. A significant change from the last time I saw Carnifex to now is the band going from having two guitarists down to one. Still, guitarist Cory Arford did not disappoint in the slightest. He absolutely killed it on those leads and shredded it on that stage. Closing out the band’s lineup is Fred Calderon, who provides the headbangs and the deep tones from his bass. Bass, in my opinion, is the most underrated instrument when it comes to bands. To me, the bass is one of the most essential, as it adds some of the deeper undertones that can really bring the music to the next level, and Fred does that very well. All in all, Carnifex is an absolutely insane band to see live and is very consistent when it comes to theatrics and musicianship.

SETLIST

  1. World War X
  2. Pray For Peace
  3. Slit Wrist Savior
  4. Graveside Confessions
  5. Lie To My Face
  6. Hell Chose Me

Up next as direct support was the ever so talented band After The Burial from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unfortunately, vocalist Anthony Notarmaso became sick on tour and lost his voice. The band continued on and played instrumentally, which the crowd went WILD for. After the Burial is a very technical band instrumentally. Thanks to their odd time signatures, guitar tones, and fast pacing, the band is well known in the progressive metal genre, constantly teetering between metalcore and deathcore territory. Having the instrumentals showcased in the forefront was an absolutely incredible sight and audible experience. Guitarist Trent Hafdahl was on full display. His leads and backing vocal parts were at the forefront of the band’s performance. They had beautifully timed and strobed lighting that added to the overall experience and performance. The crowd went wild when the band started the set with the fan-favorite song “Lost In The Static.” During the next song, “In Flux,” I couldn’t help but really tune in to bass player Adrian Oropeza. Adrian is really vibing on stage, with his headbanging and downtuned bass tones really adding the grit and djenty sound that the band is known for. Dan Carle closes out the band’s rhythm section, and he is by far one of the most on-point and technical drummers in the progressive metal scene, not missing a beat. I especially noticed it during the third song in the set, “Collapse.” After I left the photo pit, I got to see just how nuts the crowd was going. With a moshpit about twice the size as it was prior, they were absolutely mesmerized by the technicality and prowess the band showcased. During the lead single “Behold The Crown,” from the band’s 2019 album “Evergreen,” released via Sumerian Records, I especially saw this energy from the crowd with one of the fastest and most violent circle pits of the night. The band played two more songs before closing out their incredible set, those songs being “Exist, Exist,” and “A Wolf Among Ravens.” I am incredibly proud of these guys for trooping on through their vocalist being sick. Them playing instrumentally was incredible and wowed the whole audience in attendance.

SETLIST

  1. Lost In The Static
  2. In Flux
  3. Collapse
  4. Behold The Crown
  5. Exist, Exist
  6. A Wolf Among Ravens

The Black Dahlia Murder hailing from Waterford, Michigan, finally hit the stage next. To say they obliterated the stage with their talent would be an understatement. Being a band with 20 years and nine albums under their belt, they had a lot of songs to choose from for their set. I think they created a setlist that was both dynamic and crowd-pleasing. The band opened up the show with “I Will Return” from the 2009 album “Deflorate,” released via Metal Blade Records, which is the record label the band has been with thus far throughout their career. This is typically the band’s closing track when they headline, so it was cool to hear it at the beginning of the set. One thing that cannot be ignored when seeing The Black Dahlia Murder live is vocalist Trevor Strnad’s vocal prowess and control over the crowd. His vocal tone and stage presence combined have made him a figurehead within the death metal community. With crowd surfers galore and tons of moshing in the pit, the band quickly moved on to the title track “Verminous” from their newest album from 2020 that reached number 99 on the billboard 200. Strnad stated himself that the addition of guitarist Brandon Ellis was really showcased on this record. While Ellis was also a part of their 2017 record “Nightbringers,” his style and musicianship really took the helm for the new record. Bassist Max Lavelle provided lots of headbanging, windmills, and deep grooving bass tones that really mesh beautifully with the band’s sound. The band then went into their third song, “Nightbringers,” and I really noticed just how on-point drummer Alan Cassidy was during this song and throughout the whole set. The Black Dahlia Murder songs are incredibly technical, fast, and complex, and Cassidy did not miss a single beat. Guitarist and founding member Brian Eschbach absolutely shreds those rhythm guitar parts with ease. As I’ve stated, the band’s songs are challenging. But someone like Eschbach has been performing them with ease for over two decades at this point, and you can tell he is genuinely enjoying himself on stage with him smiling and exuding lots of positive energy. The band went on to play a career-spanning set, with songs from seven of their nine records. I always get excited when they play “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse” from their 2007 album “Nocturnal,” as it reminds me of when I first discovered the band myself when I found that song on Rock Band. Fun fact, that song is still the most challenging song on Rock Band for drums. The Black Dahlia Murder once again blew me away, with their colorful green and red lighting to their technical musicianship that got the rest of the crowd and me going wild. They are always on point and are a band that must be witnessed to fully appreciate how great of a band they truly are.

SETLIST

  1. I Will Return
  2. Verminous
  3. Nightbringers
  4. Unhallowed
  5. Funeral Thirst
  6. Sunless Empire
  7. Nocturnal
  8. Statutory Ape
  9. Removal of the Oaken Stake
  10. Contagion
  11. Everything Went Black
  12. On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
  13. Child of Night
  14. Kings of the Nightworld
  15. What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse
  16. Warborn
  17. As Good As Dead
  18. Deathmask Divine
  19. Miasma

This tour was beyond incredible. After a year and a half away from shows, to have this monster of a tour with these fantastic bands be one of my first shows back; was beyond incredible. Thank you to all of the amazing bands, crew, and venue staff for making sure this show and tour ran so smoothly. This will probably go down as one of the best tours of 2021.

The Black Dahlia Murder | After The Burial | Carnifex | Rivers of Nihil | Undeath

Photos + Review Courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Cannibal Corpse w/ Thy Art Is Murder | Fall North American Tour | Photos + Review

Cannibal Corpse Slaughters Ventura

Venue: The Majestic Ventura Theater on 10/25/19

When it comes to death metal bands, Cannibal Corpse is one of the ultimate greats. I got into them a little later than most, when I came across “Hammer Smashed Face” on Rock Band back in 2013. They’ve been on my bucket list of bands I’ve wanted to see since then, and with them performing what would be a sold out show so close to home, this was the perfect opportunity to finally see them. And with another one of my favorite bands, Thy Art Is Murder, performing as well as direct support, this was bound to be a truly stellar show!

First up was Thy Art Is Murder from Sydney, Australia. This was my third time seeing these guys, and this was the longest set I’ve seen them play. They played a lot of songs from the new record “Human Target”, while mixing in songs from each of their other Nuclear Blast releases “Hate”, “Holy War” and “Dear Desolation”, totaling out to an 11-song set. Thy Art Is Murder is described as deathcore, but take in influences from death metal, blackened death metal, and even metalcore. It’s because of this blended sound that the band can fit with a plethora of metal lineups. I previously saw them in March of 2018 co-headlining with Dying Fetus on a North American Tour, then saw them in April of 2019 when they acted as direct support for Architects (UK) on their North American Tour. Once again, Thy Art Is Murder acted as direct support on this tour for none other than Cannibal Corpse, so Thy Art was able to bring out some of the heavier tracks on this run. I personally was extremely stoked to hear them play “New Gods” and “Make America Hate Again” from the new record. When you see the band live, there are a few notable things to look out for. Holding down the fort in the back is Jesse Beahler on drums, who truly creates an interesting dynamic with intense and difficult drum parts played to perfection. On stage left is rhythm guitarist Sean Leander and bassist Kevin Butler, who each groove along in each song with high energy and a plethora of facial expressions. Lead guitarist Andy Marsh stands on stage right and can be usually seen looking intensely into the crowd as he shreds to his’ hearts content. Front and center is vocalist CJ McMahon, who is spotted in the first 2 songs sporting a hooded cloak and looking tall and ominous into the crowd, while screaming and growling with a wide range of tones and pitches. The band is also known for their bright and strobing lighting, not using any of the frontal house lighting and bringing forth an haunting presence, which goes right along with their serious politically driven lyrical content that focuses on anti-religion, anti-extremism, animal rights, greed, war, and much more. I was thrilled to see Thy Art Is Murder once again and I believe they truly put on their best set to date!

SETLIST

  1. Death Squad Anthem
  2. Make America Hate Again
  3. Fur and Claw
  4. Slaves Beyond Death
  5. Holy War
  6. No Absolution
  7. Human Target
  8. The Son of Misery
  9. New Gods
  10. Reign of Darkness
  11. Puppet Master

Next up was the all mighty Cannibal Corpse from Buffalo, New York. After many years of listening to them and playing their songs on Rock Band, it finally became time to see them. The band is good ole fashioned death metal that borders the line of brutal death metal. Their lyrical content draws from horror fiction novels and horror films, with highly graphic and controversial imagery on their album covers to go along with the musical content. As a big horror fan myself, I was almost immediately drawn to that aspect of Cannibal Corpse when I found out about them. The band has been going strong since 1988, despite a couple lineup changes near the beginning of their career. What I was pleasantly surprised when watching them was how humble they were. They didn’t do a walk on intro like a lot of other bands, they didn’t bring additional lighting, they just played good fucking music and got the crowd hyped. Vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher blew me away with his ability to own the stage by doing a single stance. The band isn’t known for being insanely energetic, but the power each member gives off just from their stage presence and musical technicality is mind blowing. With fourteen albums in their discography, I was pleasantly surprised how well the band was able to cover, playing songs from twelve of those fourteen albums. The crowd went nuts, with one of the most violent mosh pits I’ve seen. This was a perfect setlist, as the band played a whopping 18-songs, with George adding in some comedic moments while the rest of the members would tune their instruments. I was thrilled to hear songs like “I Cum Blood”, “Hammer Smashed Face”, “Red Before Black”, and “Kill or Become”, which were all highlights from the set for me. Bassist and founding member Alex Webster was also very fun to watch for me, as his bass stance was very powerful and was very fun to capture. The band had Erik Rutan, guitarist of Hate Eternal, filling in on this tour. His stage presence and ability to own those dueling guitar solos blew me away. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz truly impressed me with his extremely technical drum parts that were played to perfection, along with his stage presence behind the kit. The dude is insanely fun to watch. Closing out the band’s lineup is guitarist Rob Barrett, who truly slayed it with his’ rhythmic patterns and technicality on the rhythm guitar. But the stand out was definitely George Fisher, who’s headbanging and vocal abilities drove the set to a whole other level. Cannibal Corpse’s performance was one for the books and I will definitely be seeing them again in the near future!

SETLIST

  1. Code of the Slashers
  2. Only One Will Die
  3. Red Before Black
  4. Scourge of Iron
  5. Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead
  6. The Wretched Spawn
  7. Devoured by Vermin
  8. Unleashing the Bloodthirsty
  9. Gutted
  10. Kill or Become
  11. A Skull Full of Maggots
  12. Evisceration Plague
  13. Firestorm Vengeance
  14. Death Walking Terror
  15. I Cum Blood
  16. Make Them Suffer
  17. Stripped, Raped, and Strangled
  18. Hammer Smashed Face

Cannibal Corpse’s Fall North American Tour was an amazing night with two bands who absolutely crushed it, performing incredible music that blew me away. Both Thy Art Is Murder and Cannibal Corpse are at the top of their game and I cannot wait to see both bands in the new year when they come out to California again!

Cannibal Corpse | Thy Art Is Murder

Photos + Review courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram

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