Black Dahlia Murder slays Atlanta’s Masquerade Dec. 11

The Black Dahlia Murder are on tour supporting their new album Abysmal, and played a well-attended show at the Masquerade on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. The crowd got more intense as a full night of down-tuned riffs, blistering vocals and double bass blast beats carried on. The members of Black Dahlia Murder assembled the tour lineup themselves with bands from a variety of labels to showcase a spectrum of brutality from the old-school thrash they grew up with to the off-kilter time signatures and breakdowns of contemporary mathcore.

Artificial Brain opened the night. They are a five-piece death metal band from Long Island, NY, and are touring in support of their debut album Labyrinth Constellation. The crowd was strong and attentive for the opening act. You see fewer people staring at their phones during the opening acts at metal shows than you do at indie shows. The vocalist, Will Smith (no relation), thanked the audience for coming out early, reminding them that they “could have still been at home, taking bong rips and playing Fallout.”

Entheos put on an excellent performance, with high energy, compelling and complex guitar parts over tight, percussive double bass mosh. The musicianship in Entheos is exactly what you’d expect from the former drummer of Animals as Leaders, the bass player from The Faceless, and the guitarist from Animosity. Chaney Crabb prowled, kicked and leaped, never stopping for breath as she pounded out her growling lyrics. Entheos just released their self-titled 3 song EP.

Iron Reagan played next. Although they only formed this year, the members of Iron Reagan are all veterans of bands like Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour. Their sound is old school thrash metal and the crowd loved it. Six-string guitars made their first appearance of the night as the guitar players in Iron Reagan reminded all in attendance that you don’t need “low” to get “heavy.” The crowd got good and warmed up as the mosh pit reached critical mass.

The penultimate act, Goatwhore, came on stage bedecked in studded black leather gauntlets, boots and jackets. Hailing from New Orleans, Goatwhore has spent 16 years grinding out death metal, steeped in Jack Daniels and the sneering attitude southern metal is known for, with a touch of bluesiness in the fast, tough-guy riffing. Vocalist Louis Falgoust controlled the crowd with his presence, and loomed over the mosh pit, directing its activities with his gestures.

The Black Dahlia Murder headlined the night, playing hits from their extensive catalog. By the time they took the stage, the audience was frothing with energy. Crowd surfers fell into the photo pit and reached for the band, only to be carried off to the sidelines by the venue security. A gigantic moshpit swirled with shirtless bodies, and every surface in the room resonated with death metal. Even the stage security was singing along. The night closed when the audience’s thirst for savagery was quenched.

The energy of a death metal show is hard to describe if you haven’t been. The music may be merciless, but the crowd is supportive and friendly. It’s a community that welcomes others, and attempts to police itself of bad elements. It’ll be interesting to see where shows like this will go when the Masquerade closes. Is there a venue that’s large enough to handle the bigger crowds of international touring acts, but still accessible enough to allow niche acts a place to play to larger audiences? Time will tell how this void will be filled.

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