Black Dahlia Murder + Skeltonwitch + Fleshgod Apocalypse
Newcastle O2 Academy
20th January 2012
Reviewed by Rob Barker
Looking through bands’ touring schedules you could be forgiven for thinking that Newcastle is a leper amongst other cities. Whether it’s due to the comparatively small size of the city itself or a lack of venues, it seems as though bands base their tours around avoiding us Geordies (and if they’ve seen Geordie Shore that’s fairly understandable).
Still, when bands do finally penetrate the North East, they’re met with hungry crowds, and with a line-up like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Skeletonwitch and Black Dahlia Murder the fans were ravenous.
Arriving far too early and falling victim to a near lethal dose of rum I soon settled at the edge of the crowd to see Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse take the stage.
Decked out in tattered and bloody tuxedos, the symphonic metallers exuded menace, with vocalist Tommaso Riccardi holding the crowd’s attention while they were pummelled by an onslaught of pounding drums courtesy of Francesco Paoli.
For fans and newcomers alike the set was far from disappointing, mixing old and new, with crowd favourites such as Thru Our Scars and The Violation winning the band a number of new followers.
The only downside was that, as is so often the case at the Academy, the mix caused a lot of the band’s unique sound to become lost. Strings and keys occasionally broke their way through, and while Cristiano Trionfera’s guitar playing looked intense it fell on deaf ears thanks to the drums and bass taking centre stage.
In stark contrast to Fleshgod’s classically tinged orchestration, Skeletonwitch’s straightforward old school metal hit the crowd like a tonne of blackened bricks, albeit after some slight technical problems.
Doing away with every shred of staged theatrics, vocalist Chance Garnette proved that all you need to put on a great show is a tonne of adrenaline and a formidable beard. Both his infectious energy and a blitzkrieg twin guitar assault provided by Nathan Garnette and Scott Hedrick ensured that there’d be sore necks the next morning.
With the atmosphere at maximum voltage (and the rum having fully taken hold on my nervous system) Black Dahlia Murder stormed the stage. Mixing elements of Fleshgod’s symphonic strings with Skeletonwitch’s straight up brutality, it was as though the lineup was perfectly crafted. From the outset it was clear that frontman Trevor Strnad lives to play live. Grinning like a madman while pacing the stage and throwing his all into every line, he seemed just as happy to be onstage as the crowd were to watch him.
While it was obvious that the set would be weighted towards the band’s latest offering, Ritual, covering the likes of ‘Moonlight Equilibrium’ and ‘On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood’, TBDM were more than happy to oblige fans of their back catalogue. Cue guitarist Ryan Knight shredding through ‘Everything Went Black’ and ‘What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse’.
Though Newcastle might not see itself on every list of tour dates, it proved that the fans are up there with the best of them, and when it comes to metal, in the best possible way, it really is grim up north.