On the Front Line: The Black Dahlia Murder, After the Burial, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, Undeath @ Irving Plaza

Despite the tattoos, heavy boots, and obligatory head-to-toe-in-black dress code, anyone passing by Irving Plaza on October 10, 2021 would have thought the long line outside was not unlike kids at Disney World waiting for their favorite ride. One of the first metal shows announced following both the return of concerts in New York City and the reopening of the venue following a remodeling, the Up From the Sewer Tour quickly became one of the most anticipated events of the falls. 

Unsurprisingly sold out, NYC was the final date of a stacked bill headlined by The Black Dahlia Murder, with special guests After the Burial, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, and Undeath. As the doors opened, a roar of approval could be heard from those in line: it was time to get a taste of something that was missed so dearly. 

Kicking off with Undeath, the brutality right out of the gates had the crowd in a fury almost instantly. Newer to the scene than their tourmates, the Rochester based quintet delivered a stellar blend of speed and slam in the style of Gateways to Annihilation era Morbid Angel and early Cryptopsy. Headlining a few shows of their own in November, here’s hoping to see Undeath get on more tours in the coming year.

Almost two years since their last visit to the northeast (yes, it’s been that long already), it was almost cruel to give Rivers of Nihil such a short set. With the release of their fourth album, The Work, in late September, there were certainly many songs to choose from for the evening’s performance. 

Playing two new songs, bookended by cuts from 2018’s Where Owls Know My Name, it would be great if Rivers of Nihil announced an album release tour to play more exciting tracks, both new and old. Still, it is not every day a sax player is cheered for by a room full of metalheads, but such was the case when Zach Strouse sat in for “The Silent Life” and the title track of Where Owls…

If critics want to argue that deathcore is dead and buried, then consider Carnifex the unholy abomination of the genre, its decaying, filth crusted body crawling from the grave. Still unapologetically heavy, the band long ago traded generic breakdowns for black metal influenced guitar work and symphonic choir work. The result, which includes this year’s release Graveside Confessions, is something that takes the iconic Carnifex sound and injects it with the stylings of Dimmu Borgir and Rotting Christ

Serving up old school hitters, such as “Lie to My Face” and “Slit Wrist Savior”, alongside new material, the frenzy of riffs and blast beats Carnifex was as fierce as ever. If you ever wondered what it might be like to run into a Baron of Hell from Doom in person (horns up if you remember your first time encountering them in the ‘Phobos Anomaly’ level), look no further than the stage presence and voice of Scott Lewis.

The security team working the barricades looked at each other as After the Burial took the stage, nodding in silence as the opening notes to “Lost In the Static” rang out: they knew what was coming. No sooner had vocalist Anthony Notormaso screamed the first line of the song than the first body came flying over the crowd, then another, and then another. Like captains staring down a raging sea, wave after wave of crowd surfers kept security busy the whole set; such is the reputation of After the Burial – they come to town and you get off your feet to dance. 

And off the feet they were, the crowd moving so viciously during “Collapse”, “Behold the Crown” and “A Wolf Amongst Ravens” that it felt like the floor could give at any moment. Capped off with a heartfelt thanks to the crowd for supporting their favorite metal bands and the metal scene as a whole during the pandemic and a performance of “Berzerker” from 2008’s Rareform, all in attendance were primed and ready for the final set of the evening. 

After so many serious bands, only The Black Dahlia Murder could pull off coming out to the marching riffs of “I Will Return” while spraying the audience with silly string. Charging through a setlist spanning nine studio albums, Detroit’s finest has reached a point in their career where fans who were there for Unhallowed and Miasma are bringing their nieces, nephews, and even their own kids to the show. 

From the infectious grooves of the title track from Nightbringers to the fist pumping chorus of “Warborn”, a better setlist really couldn’t have been asked for. Taking it back to the beginning, classic tracks included “Contagion” and, as always, “Funeral Thirst”. Despite many lineup changes over the years, the passion and power Black Dahlia brings to the stage makes it feel like 2003 was just yesterday. 

Closing out with the title track from Miasma, its sinister guitar hook forever ingrained in our memories, The Black Dahlia Murder was perhaps one of the best bands of their genre to celebrate the return concerts with. Relentlessly intense, behind the gruesome lyrics is a band that represents having fun while remaining heavy. If one had to pick a band to party with as the world ends, Black Dahlia would probably be one of the best choices.


Photo pass courtesy of Earsplit PR.

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