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It’s been a tumultuous year for Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder. With the passing of Trevor Strnad last year, there were a lot of questions surrounding whether or not the band could either continue, or if they could, what would that look like? The announcement that the band would pivot founding member and rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach to lead vocalist and bring back guitarist Ryan Knight was met with nearly universal approval, but there still lingered a tiny remnant of doubt - what would this incarnation look like, and how would they sound?

Well, the band’s been on tour for a month (just finishing their Verminous Remnant Tour up with a performance at the reincarnation of Milwaukee Metal Fest), and if their Friday night Minneapolis show at the Skyway Theater is indicative of anything, the answers to those questions are “the band hasn’t missed a step, and they sound absolutely incredible”. Eschbach and company hit the stage with a vitality and purpose that you seem to really only get at the start of tours, but even after a month long trek, this new version of The Black Dahlia Murder brought intensity and precision to their live sounds - no easy feat already given how demanding much of their material is.

The band hit the stage swathed in deep green, a cue to come of a melding of audiovisual design with their trademark saturated album covers. The ominous strums of the opening notes of the title track off of Verminous hit the crowd, and then pure chaos ensued. There is something so beautiful about watching a band that is perfectly in sync, and there really is no other way to describe the performance qualities of The Black Dahlia Murder. Twin guitarists Ryan Knight and Brandon Ellis trade solos while flipping their hair around like madmen, bassist Max Lavelle frequently joining the fun and creating a tornado of hair on stage as Eschbach roams the stage, hand raised in mad sermon, breathing life into the two decades of material the death metal stalwarts have to fall back on, all backed by the mechanical and oppressive drum work of Alan Cassidy. It is one seamless, effortless machine, and in the blink of an eye they had already swung through fan favorite "What A Horrible Night to Have a Curse" and a monstrous rendition of "Kings of the Nightworld", respectively painting the creaking old theater deep blue and violent red to match Nocturnal and Nightbringers designs.

From there, the band saw fit to touch almost every album of their back catalog (all save Everblack and Abysmal), giving the fans 3 songs off of Nocturnal (with a perfect rendition of "Deathmask Divine" to end the night), several off of Nightbringers, and even a few tracks off of their debut album Unhallowed to begin the close the night down. In short, it was a night of pure metal perfection - as is to be expected from them - silencing all questions and doubts even the most cynical of fans might have had about their continued tenure.

The Black Dahlia Murder closed the night with a touching nod to Trevor, a nod to every one of their fans and crew, and promised they would be back soon - and with new songs.

Joseph Dunst

Photojournalist - Minneapolis  

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