Whitechapel / The Black Dahlia Murder

WHITECHAPEL playing 'This Is Exile' & THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER playing 'Nightbringers'

Whitechapel / The Black Dahlia Murder

Fleshgod Apocalypse, Aversions Crown, Shadow Of Intent

Sun · June 17, 2018

Doors: 5:15 pm / Show: 6:15 pm

$27.50 ADV $30.80 DOS

This event is all ages

Box Office is open Wednesday-Saturday 12-6pm and All Show Nights, 410-244-0057. Unless otherwise noted Maryland State's 10% Admissions and Amusement Tax is included in the ticket price

Whitechapel
Whitechapel
"The theme of 'Mark of the Blade' is a celebration of Whitechapel being together for ten years and the fans that support us no matter what," states vocalist Phil Bozeman, and after just one exposure to the record's 11 riveting tracks, a more fitting tribute is unimaginable. Pushing their sound forward with each successive release, the sextet have never allowed anyone outside of their ranks to dictate or influence the music they write. Mark of the Blade sees them remain true to their roots while making their most dramatic progression to date, the emphasis falling more on groove than blastbeat-driven death metal violence, as well as venturing into previously unexplored territory, both sonically and lyrically. "It's the most dynamic record we've done, in the sense that one song can be very aggressive while the next one will be softer and sentimental," guitarist Alex Wade asserts. "I think it's great that we have opened up our sound to just write and play whatever we think sounds good. If it's soft and has clean singing who cares as long as it's a good song? I would rather do that than be closed-minded and stick to only the 'extreme' side of metal."

With five genre-redefining albums to their name, the Knoxville, Tennessee natives have carved themselves a unique niche in contemporary metal, and in doing so have spoken to legions of fans. Making their presence known with 2007's The Somatic Defilement, their profile has steadily grown, and 2014's Our Endless War saw them crack the top 10 on the Billboard Top 200 for the first time. Their reputation for maintaining their integrity is well-earned, and going into their sixth full-length this commitment is stronger than ever. "I honestly don't think that we ever have to prove anything to anyone, we do this because we enjoy it, and if people want to listen and support us, that's just a bonus," says Bozeman. "With this record we knew what we didn't want to do. We wanted to get away from the faster stuff, because we're burned out on that 260bpm blastbeat thing. We've done that. Ultimately none of us agree with genre pigeon-holing, and we're not afraid to write what we want to write, no matter what anyone else thinks." While the band had clear ideas for elements they wanted to explore, they did not allow this to dictate the record, which developed more naturally, focusing on what was best for the individual songs, refusing to accept anything less than the absolute best they could possibly do. "Nothing was set in concrete when we started writing, and we did not force anything," Wade states. "For example, the idea of including some clean singing was brought up before any songs were written, but it was never really like 'okay, we're doing this' until the songs that we planned to have that on were complete and Phil could say 'so I'm clean singing on these, right?'. At that moment it felt exciting that we were exploring musical territory that we hadn't before, and that we were confident in doing so." In realizing the album, the band - rounded out by guitarists Ben Savage and Zach Householder, bassist Gabe Crisp and drummer Ben Harclerode - reunited with producer Mark Lewis (The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse). "When it comes to recording we have the 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' mentality, and he really does find ways to make us sound better with each record. From 'Whitechapel' (2012) to 'Our Endless War', there really was a large step forward in terms of the production and tones, and I feel that is also the case with the progression from 'Our Endless War' to 'Mark of the Blade'. This is the biggest we have ever sounded on a record, and it's great to see his growth as a producer matched with our growth as musicians."

Kicking off with "The Void", which taps into a Slayer-style aggressive thrash vibe that is perfectly suited to the band's three-guitar attack, the songs that follow all leave a distinct impression, and by the time the rich, dark melodies of the epic "Decennium" bring things to a close, it's impossible to deny the emotional weight brought to bear. However, equally inescapable is the fact that the majority of said emotion is profoundly positive, leaving a lasting sense of hope and community, and it is this that inspired the album's title. "It always blows our minds when we see fans get our Tennessee saw-blade symbol tattooed on them, and we are grateful to those diehard fans who show such dedication to what we do," states Wade. "When we were thinking of possible titles, Phil suggested 'Mark Of The Blade', and the theme being the fans and how they would bear the mark for us. I feel it also stands for the figurative 'mark' that we attempt to leave with this record." While this theme is strong, Bozeman typically tackles a broad range of issues, always laying himself bare and speaking from the heart. "It was time to show that we are human and also want to be happy, and that metal doesn't have to be 'blah, blah, blah I hate the world' all the time. 'The Void' is about our music being a black hole that people can escape into, which can alleviate their problems, while the title track is about me taking a chance and committing to the band rather than staying home in a dead end job, at the same time helping me to move on from the past and look toward a better future." On "Elitist Ones" Bozeman vents his frustrations at metal fans who believe their taste superior to that of others, as well as learning to move past hate, and he also touches on far more emotionally fragile territory, with "Bring Me Home". "My father passed when I was ten years old, and it's me reflecting on those first ten years of my life. It's a very depressing and sad song but it's also a part of me grieving in a way I never did, because I was too young to comprehend what was even going on." However, it is aforementioned closer "Decennium" that most fully embodies the love that they have for their fans, and determinedly finishes things on an optimistic note. "That song is really going to give people hope and a positive attitude instead of being pissed off at the world all the time. Don't get me wrong, the world definitely pisses me off and people piss me off, but in life there's always positive things to look forward to, and people would rather be happy than sad, more often than not."

With Mark of the Blade under their collective belt, the band is truly stepping into a new and exciting phase of their career. Having redefined who they are and what they are capable of, their place in the modern metal landscape has only solidified - and while they remain typically confident they are equally humble. "This record plainly states 'this is who we are'," Wade asserts. "We know we have fans that depend on us just as we depend on them, and this record displays that deep connection. In the end, that's what it's all about."
The Black Dahlia Murder
The Black Dahlia Murder
Any band that has earned an army of devout followers through dropping seven killer full-lengths - and touring their collective ass off for sixteen years - could perhaps be forgiven for thinking they could take it easy as they wade into their eighth release. But that's just not The Black Dahlia Murder's style, and Nightbringers is testament to that. Having released their most accomplished, aggressive, and emotionally diverse music to date in the form of 2015's Abysmal, the Michigan quintet have once more pushed themselves to new heights, and the 34 minutes of searing melodic death metal that comprises Nightbringers is riveting listening. "I always feel a responsibility to the people who support this band when we start making a new record," asserts vocalist Trevor Strnad. "The pressure that comes from people being excited to hear what you come up with next can be intimidating, but it's so exciting that those people love you so much for just doing what you do. It makes you want to honor what you've done in the past, but also excite them with where you go next, and that definitely drove us on 'Nightbringers'. When we started writing I honestly didn't know we had this album in us, and I feel really proud of it. It's a great moment for us."

Rather than meticulously plan things out or stick rigidly to any kind of template, when it comes to writing, The Black Dahlia Murder prefer to let things happen organically. In the hands of guitarist Brian Eschbach - who co-founded the band with Strnad in 2001 - and new recruit Brandon Ellis (Arsis, ex-Cannabis Corpse), Nightbringers is rich with dynamic riffs that are at once fresh and classic TBDM, resulting in a collection that shifts through many moods and effortlessly incorporates various elements of extreme metal. With guitarist Ryan Knight having amicably stepped down in 2016, the addition of twenty-four-year-old Ellis to the band's ranks has helped usher in an exciting new era. "He's very professional for his age, I think he's skilled far beyond his years, and his live energy is exceptional. When Max (Lavelle, bass) joined the band he challenged a lot of us on stage to raise our personal bar, and Brandon's pushed that even further," states Strnad. "Brandon coming into the band and writing a bunch of songs was an awesome surprise too. He really took the reins, and this record is also the most involved that Alan (Cassidy drums) has been too. The way that we were doing the demos and bouncing things back and forth he had a lot of room to do what he wanted to do, and I think it's definitely a more colorful album for that. I also think as we get older the emotional content goes up. I think we better realize how to grip the listener. Personally, I try to write lyrics that are going to match each part, and kind of ramp up those feelings that we're putting across." Strnad's statements are vividly borne out by every moment of Nightbringers. For fans attending 2017's Summer Slaughter tour, the first taste of of the record came with the inclusion of the title track in their set, which has an undeniable immediacy to it, rich with hooks and boasting a "circusy, evil and playful" air. By contrast, "Catacomb Hecatomb" is suffused with tragedy, the mournful tone of its slower passages deeply affecting. This too is dramatically different to "As Good As Dead", which has some swagger to it that Strnad likens to Megadeth, or "Matriarch", described by Eschbach as a "wild, neoclassical romp" and stands as one of the most cutthroat and all out aggressive tracks in the quintet's arsenal. Upon first hearing the latter, Strnad was intent on matching its visceral intensity. "I felt inspired to write very violent lyrics to it. It's told from the perspective of a woman who is trying to have a child and not having any luck, and she goes kind of crazy and stalks this other woman who is due to have a child. She finds her moment to take it from her, cutting it right out of her stomach." While Strnad explores a variety of themes and ideas with his lyrics, they are united by the album's title, which embraces a tenet that has been central to The Black Dahlia Murder's output since the very beginning. "Death metal and nighttime are synonymous to me. We are the rulers of the darkened hours that the Christian good fears. A lot of archaic ideas that are still upheld - such as marriage and monogamy - came from Christianity, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, and to me, death metal has always been bucking that. It's 'being-the-villain music', because we're the enemy of Christianity, the enemy of all that is good and traditional. Death metal is for free thinkers, it's for showing people the path to inner strength and operating on your own will, instead of being told what to do and living in fear, and songs like the title track and 'Kings Of The Nightworld' are about leading a legion of awakened minds into battle." Following this theme also motivated Strnad to forge into ever-darker territory, even when this meant tearing things up and starting over. "I felt I needed to rise to the occasion to make as much of the blood and guts and heinousness as possible, and there was actually a couple of points where I rewrote some songs. I just didn't feel like they were dark enough, or violent enough, so I was really trying to ramp up the monstrous aspects of things - the grizzlier the better!"

Rather than decamp to a single studio, the members split off when it came time to start laying down the songs - all well versed in how to get the best out of their individual performances. With former bassist Ryan Williams once again assisting, the drums were tracked at The Pipe Yard in Plymouth, Michigan and rhythm guitars and bass in the band's practice space in Warren, Michigan. Ellis then recorded his many blistering solos in his home studio, while Strnad opted to record at his home in Auburn Hills, Michigan with Joe Cincotta (Suffocation, Internal Bleeding) of Full Force Studios overseeing his sessions. For the unique and haunting cover art they turned to Kristian Wahlin, aka Necrolord, who has designed seminal artwork for the likes of At The Gates, Bathory, Emperor and also TBDM's 2007 release, Nocturnal. "I think he's the most prominent artist when it comes to classic releases in the melodic death metal genre, and kind of bringing things full circle with it being the ten-year anniversary of 'Nocturnal' felt right. By now people probably wouldn't have expected us to go back to him, so it's kind of a surprise, but at the same time it's a very classic cover too." With the band celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the aforementioned album by playing it in its entirety on Summer Slaughter, it has given them a moment to reflect not only on the road that has led them to here but also that which lies ahead. "When I think back to when we started the band, I feel very proud of everything we've done, and I also see a lot of improvement over the years," says Strnad. "In the early songs, I can hear us as kids, and then segueing into our adulthood as musicians and writers, but sixteen years in, I still feel young as a band. I feel like we have a shit ton left to do, and I think we're sitting pretty with the best lineup we've ever had. I also think 'Nightbringers' could be our finest hour yet. I feel very strongly that it will affect people, I want to get all of these songs in people's ears, and I want them to check out everything we've got on this record. There's so much variety and so many great ideas, and I think that this could take us to another place."
Fleshgod Apocalypse
Fleshgod Apocalypse
"Fleshgod Apocalypse is a brutal death metal band from Rome, Italy formed in 2007 by Hour of Penance member Francesco Paoli (Drums/Guitars/Backing vocals) , Christiano Trionfera (Guitars) and Paolo Rossi (Vocals/Bass,Promaetheus Unbound). Francesco Struglia joined the band after on Drums but leaving in 2008 due to personal interest change and other commitments. The band was previously known as the death/thrash metal actTyrannic Ethical Reconstruction." - last.fm
Aversions Crown
Aversions Crown
Aversions Crown are a four piece outfit from Brisbane, Australia conceived in 2010.
Shadow Of Intent
Shadow Of Intent
Symphonic Deathcore band from Connecticut/Rhode Island
Venue Information:
Baltimore Soundstage
124 Market Place
Baltimore, Maryland, 21202
http://www.baltimoresoundstage.com/