Black Dahlia Murder, Unearth, State of Integrity @ The Hi-Fi Brisbane 2nd June 2010 [Live Review]

Review: Hannah Collins

[Photo: Stuart Blythe]
  Over the isle of aggressive emo’s I trek, an uphill struggle lasting only 20 metres. Past a few youngins’, already heavily intoxicated before the headliners even arrive at the scene. It’s about 8.45PM, and a fight breaks out at the venue entrance… Black Dahlia Murder, have certainly attracted some eccentric hoodlums.

There are 5 bands on the bill in total, which may make for long night. Arriving too late to catch Gold Coast born; deathly brutal “Widow the Sea” (debut album coming soon) and most of the next set by Newcastle’s “The Storm Picturesque”, currently on a small Victorian tour. Both groups are relatively adolescent in relation to the depth of both their musical compilations and touring experience, but with a little time, they may just be a couple of names to watch out for…

Brisbane’s State of Integrity emerges next. Heavily dreaded vocalist Aaron Franklin reaches out to the audience and assists in birthing the night’s first signs of serious appreciation. “Let’s hear it for Black Dahlia Murder mother *&%#^$#. Are we happy to be here!!!”

State of Integrity
[Photo: Stuart Blythe]
  7 years since take off, State of Integrity put on a grand show. A blend of modern melodic death metal, classic thrash, a bit of groove, and influence by some of metals greatest. Franklin’s unbelievable mop of dreads sways around and around like a windmill during a hurricane throughout most of their set, his neck must feel like brick at the touch. He appears energetic and ever so serious about their music. People pay attention now, listening intently. Between songs, Franklin announces most of what’s to be heard next, citing album names i.e. 2005’s “The Fourth Season of revelations” and giving us a little bit of creative history, in a way, setting the scene for each song. His Growl is deep and clear, and as a screamer… he has range. His higher screams although faint in comparison to their deeper end, are soft but piercing, like the sound of a demon being put to rest. They grace us with “Aftermath of Blood Shed”, “The betrayal”, “Choose to Suffer” and “Heal these wounds”. Mix was a bit off though, guitars drowned a little, and the stage remained very well lit throughout their set; yet not marginally dinting the quality of SOI’s performance.

There’s less and less of a juvenile Emo presence, the pure metal undertones have oozed through the Hi Fi and the amount of prestigious bands shirts we see deserves two big thumbs up. I wonder who they’re here to see?!

Unearth… finally that banner’s going to be put to use. Each band of the night gets tighter, more precise and ever so much heavier, which Unearth are about to prove, it’s climactic, and BDM aren’t yet to be seen. A little on the side of cliché… the Unearth boys have 1986’s “Final Countdown” by Joey Tempest playing as they egress. In comparison to others who’ve tried the whole intro thing, it actually does them justice. The entire night so far has been a countdown to this moment, and BDM are yet to play. Volume up, lights down; excellent… the preparation for potency is complete. 4 Studio Albums, a monolithically sexy stage presence and enduring force = Unearth. Axe wielding Buz McGrath is a machine like his counter Ken Susi who wears a black cap for most of the set, eventually removing it to reveal a very metal Mohawk. Like the seasoned pro’s they be, they pull out all the regular moves, jumps, neck dives, aggressive spins and the classic lead and rhythm jam, complimentary solo’s played in unison. Trevor Phipps (vocals) is tall, well built and muscular. He stands above his audience and exudes ethereal strength of character; he’s passionate about his role. (And wetting his hair for effects.) Countless water bottles are sculled, spilt, spit and sprayed by all members of the band. More often than not, being thrown into the mosh half empty. Susi’s guitar is bright red, emanating fluorescence when touched by the right light… at times; it’s visually, the clearest most identifiable item on stage.

Something’s not right though… there’s not much going on down front. Even Phipps notes the stagnancy; once, twice, thrice requesting more energy from the mosh… until it becomes agonizing. He demands a circle pit, threatening not to play anymore unless everyone grows a backbone. It works, and the circle pit emerges during “Needless”. Round and round and round she goes; who gets hit? No one knows!!!!

Black Dahlia Murder note the same, repeatedly requesting more energy from the audience. I begin to think that their usual high intensity performance has been dulled today because of a lack of enthusiasm exhibited on the floor. The show was still worth it. The release of 2009’s “Deflorate” featuring John Kempainen’s replacement, Ryan Knight, see’s the next chapter of BDM’s existence ignite. Trevor Strnad (vocalist) and his belly born, concave “heartburn” tattoo looked a little un-metal as he’s shirtless and below the waist, a pair of mid length basketball shorts? They’ve been slammed time and time again for their repetitive song writing and bad habit of trying to cover this up with excessive guitar overlay, something realised when you see them live, or listen to the albums more than thrice. But, with a name taken from the 1947 American unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short who’s severed and mutilated body was found dumped, roadside for all passersby to see, you can only imagine the themes of their music. Coupling sounds of new wave metal/death core and traditional antics, songs like “Nocturnal”(2007’s “Nocturnal”) and “Deflorates” “I will return” keep your air guitar a’ strumming and head smashing against the walls during their darker moments.


THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane [Photo Gallery]
Unearth @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 2nd June 2010 [Photo Gallery]
State of Integrity @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane 2nd June 2010 [Photo Gallery]