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LIVE: King Diamond/Nile/The Black Dahlia Murder/Behemoth

by Patrick Graham
The Engine Room -- 5/18/2005

King Diamond pic #1 BEHEMOTH:
This Polish black metal group opened the evening at 8 PM. Clad in corpse paint, long hair, tank tops, and spiked metal shin guards, these fellows were ready to start the ruckus. Fast drum beats and guitar rhythms, growling vocals, and recorded keyboards lurking in the background were common elements among many of their songs. A highlight of their performance was the bassist, who stood with one foot resting on a monitor, playing his instrument with a vicious countenance. Eventually the band played their current single, "Conquer All," and then right before the final song, the lead singer stepped offstage and returned wearing a two-piece, black leather trench coat and a weird-looking metal mask. Cool stuff!

Personal expectations for this band were minimal, since The Black Dahlia Murder had previously been described to me as "hardcore kids who play metal instead." Their contrast with the previous band in terms of appearance didn't help, either -- these Detroit boys were dressed in T-shirts and had shorter hair. They gave a pleasant surprise with their music, however; the fast drum beats and guitar rhythms were back, but the music was a bit more amiable than expected. The lead singer was certainly into it all as he headbanged and danced around. They played a few songs off of their soon-to-be-released album Miasma.

Not only does this quartet from South Carolina play high-quality American death metal, but they have an affinity with the Egyptian folklore and mythology about which they write all of their songs. They came onstage looking like pretty down-to-Earth guys, and then the lights went dim, and singer/guitarist Karl Sanders shouted and swore into the mic to get everybody psyched. Before anyone knew it, fast and heavy guitar riffs pervaded the atmosphere, along with technical solos and Cookie Monster-esque vocals. They played songs such as "Sarcophagus," "Ramses Bringer of War," "Cast Down the Heretic," "Sacrifice Unto Sebek," and the title track of their upcoming album, "Annihilation of the Wicked." The loudness, the energy and the history lesson made it a good time.

This was the moment virtually everyone had been waiting for. This openly Satanic Danish musician has been known since the mid-'80s for putting on killer live shows full of theatrics, and at this show, the stage was decorated to look like a cemetery: a six-foot-high gate covered the front of the stage, with a casket labeled "Abigail" directly behind it; there were gothic backdrops; and an actress came out for some of the songs and acted out the birth of a baby (which was promptly slammed against the casket), as well as an apparently Satanic seance. The King himself was decked out in leather pants, a red velvet coat, white face paint decorated with black inverted crosses, and a top hat. Musically, the performance was one of the most talented of the night, and definitely the easiest for metal neophytes to appreciate. It could be classified as post-Judas Priest power metal -- lots of high-pitched guitar riffs and even higher-pitched vocals, courtesy of the King.

The night was well-arranged, starting out with new young'uns and ended with a heavy metal vet. It allowed younger fans to see a fine show and learn about the older stuff, and it also allowed the old fans to rekindle their metal flame with a blast from the past and enjoy some samples of some new bands.

King Diamond -- http://www.covenworldwide.org/; Nile -- http://www.nile-catacombs.net/; The Black Dahlia Murder -- http://theblackdahliamurder.com/; Behemoth -- http://www.behemoth.pl/


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