I discovered one of my favorite death metal bands during a drunken, heated game of Trivial Pursuit. It’s undecided if that is really fucking metal or not, either way, almost nineteen years later they’re still in constant rotation.
A weekday, around noon, drinking forties of Olde English and playing a Canadian board game at Denis and Trator’s apartment in Bayside. We should have been at work or in class, or somewhere doing something productive, instead we were getting hammer smashed face going head to head for bragging rights, to see which one of us wielded more general knowledge. I scored a wedge in the Science and Nature category, answering correctly, “Trilobite.”
The background noise was the Music Choice metal channel on cable. Everyone’s ears perked up when a song that we had never heard before came on the television. The song was “Funeral Thirst.” The band was The Black Dahlia Murder. Familiar with the infamous namesake murder but none of us had ever heard of the band before, the tune called us forth. I made a mental note, and later that week I picked up a copy of Unhallowed and have been devout from the moment the gallops kicked in at 1:33 on the titular intro track.
The boys from Michigan quickly became a staple for the crew from Queens, blasting in our houses and whips alike with horns raised.
The earliest show I attended was at the OG Knitting Factory on Leonard street where although they were playing a Swedish brand of death metal, the Black Dahlia embodied a hardcore punk vibe with the crowd rolling over each other to get to the stage to scream along. That was not something you typically saw at at death metal show, though they were the only real deal death metal band on that bill. I’ve seen them destroy almost every major stage in NYC, from Irving Plaza to Nokia theater, and not once have they ever disappointed. These dudes never seem to phone it in, it’s always all blood and sweat.
There are some little moments that stand out over the years. Briefly talking to Trevor and then drummer Zach Gibson, at B. B. Kings during King Diamond’s set, and asking him what King was like. ‘He just appears,” replied Trevor. Of course, why wouldn’t he be mysterious. Another time I awkwardly gave a sticker of my old band to Brian outside a venue, who was cool about it even though I was incredibly awkward, but in my defense sometimes I can’t even talk to people I know. But one instance that seems to pop up in conversation is a particular show at the old Limelight, rebranded the Avalon.
At the risk of incriminating myself, though the statute of limitation has certainly expired, the team and I were partly responsible for stopping the show. While I can not confirm nor deny any crimes committed during the brawl, nor will I disclose the identities of any present parties, I will say we were not the assholes, at first. It was us vs. them but quickly escalated to us vs. them and the bouncers.
I will divulge that at the end of the melee I was suplexed by a fucking massive security guard, splitting my chin open with his walkie-talkie (Walkie-talkies? This man clearly took his job seriously) and then he pinned me to the floor with a knee, while he dug his fingers into my throat. I talked an absurd amount of shit for someone in my position and I’m sure he wanted to channel his inner Patrick Swayze and Mcgruber a little throat rip, but all in all, we were ejected and left relatively unscathed without any handcuffs.
It’s a story that is better in person and over a beer
The Black Dahlia Murder have performed with everyone at this point but we’ve seen them personally share the stage with great bands such as Nile, Behemoth, The Red Chord, Scarlet (With so many bands reuniting it would be awesome to see them come back), Gorguts, Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore, Cannibal Corpse and fucking Carcass. The dreams of man may be engulfed in fire, but I’m sure it has to be surreal for them to share the stage with legends.
With nine albums under their belt, and while you may prefer one over another, their catalog has no flops. Sentimental as always, Unhallowed is held in high regard, a personal favorite, though each album rips and has its own personality. This band has never wavered, age has not softened them and no line up change has ever weakened them, on the contrary it has only strengthened them. The Black Dahlia Murder typically release an album every two years, 2022 would be the two year mark after Verminous, as always I’d be eager to hear what Strnad, Eschbach, Lavelle, Cassidy and Ellis have in store for number ten. Double digits, fellas.
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