Suicide Silence, The Black Dahlia Murder, Chelsea Grin, Alter Beast

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I woke up on this splendid Saturday as giddy as a child on their birthday.  I had been anticipating this concert for months on end, and the day was finally here.  My brothers-in-arms were loaded into my sticker-laden Toyota Camry, and as we barreled our way towards the evening’s festivities I hoped for only two things:  that the party would be relentless and that the show would be penultimate.  By the end of the evening, my hunches had been confirmed and I retreated home with visions of circle pits dancing through my head.  In case any of you missed it, Suicide Silence is back with a vengeance, and for their first headlining tour in almost four years they brought metal-thoroughbreds The Black Dahlia Murder, up-and-comers Chelsea Grin, and rookies Alter Beast.  Together they nearly razed House of Blues (Dallas) to the ground, and I loved every moment of it.

Alter Beast are relatively new to the metal scene, and on this evening they weren’t even at full force with their 2nd guitarist having left due to an unforeseen emergency.  But they definitely represented California’s metal sound well, and their sound definitely fit on this tour package.  While there is plenty of work to be done before this band can truly cement their selves as a long-lasting metal band, Alter Beast certainly holds an immense amount of raw, instrumental talent.  They got the early arrivers pumped up with dissonant guitar chords and precise drumming, eventually garnering a tiny Wall of Death (the first of the evening’s three) and a pretty substantial circle pit.  Their sound levels could have used some attention from a more experienced sound engineer, but overall their music was provocative and very entertaining.  As their set wound down, I found myself remembering my fond love of the House of Blues.  From the psychedelic artwork adorning almost every square inch of wall space to the hospitality of the staff, House of Blues routinely exemplifies what makes it one of the best venues in DFW and tonight was no exception.

Up next was Chelsea Grin, fresh off the release of their recent album “Ashes to Ashes,” and ready to wreck shop.  I had the privilege of conversing with their front man Alex Koehler before the show kicked off, and you can tell that he and his band care tremendously about their fans as well as the quality of their music.  This attitude carries over on stage and allows them to put forward an exceptionally exciting live show.  Their drummer provides not only methodical and powerful beats, but he even provides all of the singing and low grunting vocals for this loaded six-piece band.  Chelsea Grin’s three guitarists are lead by the transcendent Jason Richardson (formerly of Born of Osiris) who helped them create a fresh and progressive sound for “Ashes to Ashes.” His musical mind has really helped the band progress beyond being just a middling, semi-redundant metal band into a force to be reckoned with.  The audience really bought into the set, and there were gang vocal pile-ons and crowd surfing for the first time of the evening.  A party was starting to break out, and the ever-brutal, relentlessly heavy Chelsea Grin had really popped the cork out of the bottle.

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Naturally, the champagne is what comes next, which on this evening was the illustrious Black Dahlia Murder.  I have loved and followed the Black Dahlia Murder since the release of their first full-length album “Unhallowed,” and I’ve seen them more times than I can rightly remember off the top of my head.  They never disappoint, and they never half-ass a thing.  These modern metal masters are the shining example of what it takes to create a successful, long-lasting band in today’s music underground.  By staying true to their core values of ripping faces live, writing evocative, blasphemous, down-right evil lyrics, and shredding guitar riffs like Enron shredded documents they’ve carved a large piece of the pie for themselves and don’t show any signs of stopping soon.  The Dahlia men played for over 45 minutes, and the audience never let up once.  The torrential onslaught of moshers, crowd surfers, drunken buffoons, and the like was like nothing I’d seen in quite some time.  Front man Trevor orchestrated the audience like some demented, macabre Neanderthal, while the instrumentalists proceeded to blaze through some of the fastest and intense metal ever written.  In a whirlwind of intensity, their set sadly came to a close.  Fortunately for those of us who wanted even more devastatingly grand metal, there was one band left- and it was one band everyone had been curious to see for months now.

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Suicide Silence was standing on the precipice of greatness in November of 2012 when tragedy struck.  Their vocalist (and most distinct piece of the whole puzzle) Mitch Lucker was tragically slain in a motorcycle accident.  The metal community let out cries of sorrow, and the band went on indefinite hiatus.  The last year or so has seen the band come together through grief, enlist the vocal stylings of (former All Shall Perish frontman) Eddie Hermida and release new music for the first time in almost three years.  Subsequently this led to them being on this summer’s Mayhem Fest, and ultimately as the headliner on this tour package.  They pummeled their way through new material and old, and even though he is not Mitch Lucker, Hermida held down his end of things while bringing power, poise and passion to every song.  Alex from Chelsea Grin joined them onstage for the timeless track “No Pity for a Coward,” and soon the evening’s 3rd and most massive Wall of Death was primed and ready for destruction.  Circle pits, smashed faces, and the dull thud of human meat colliding repeatedly marred the set- but that’s exactly what you want from a Suicide Silence live experience.  As their near-hour long set (with songs so old they had “Family Guy” quotes in them) ended, the evening drew to a close.  The weary and yet still excited patrons of House of Blues (Dallas) sauntered into the gorgeous fall night time.  Another successful show, another fabulous night.

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