The Black Dahlia Murder

support The Red Chord
author AP date 11/12/07 venue Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK

"How many brutal motherfuckers are there in the crowd tonight?", screams Guy Kozowyk as his five-piece ensemble prepares to unleash one of the most raw, primordial live shows I've seen to date. Without playing a single note, The Red Chord is able to emanate a menacing semblance that, with the increasing feedback from the amps, slowly begins to mount to an almost surreal atmosphere. As the ambient noise begins to climax, Guy screams "How many girly motherfuckers are there in the crowd tonight?" to an ocean of horns and fists. The guitarists begin to chug to the now audible rhythm trying to prevail over the blaring pandemonium that is the Wedgewood Rooms, and I think to myself, "Fuck! I wish everyone had a chance to feel this."

And then, with the force of a car bomb, Greg Weeks slaps his bass and guitarists Mike Keller and Gunface release their palm-muting, setting fire to an evening so brutal it'd have Ted Bundy humble. Almost instantly it is mutually understood that The Red Chord are seasoned entertainers; I mean these guys have the crowd explode from mere anticipation. When Guy invites every member of the crowd up on stage, he smirks, knowing that the Wedgewood Rooms prohibits it. This is the first time I actually feel sorry for the security personnel, because we're not talking about just one or two sworn metal heads, obeying his command. No, in a matter of minutes, an constant, unstoppable stream of kids of every size, age and gender begins to fly toward the stage from every angle. Amidst the mayhem, Guy delegates microphone duty to a person he has concluded to be "a brutal motherfucker" and fuck me, this guy can actually scream.

As the set nears its end, I find it increasingly hard to snap decent photos at the barrier with fists, feet, people and plastic cups flying about everywhere [Ed note: that's why there are no pictures in this review!]. Hell, I'm glad I don't have to watch this show through a lens because I don't want to miss a single chord in the incredibly technical death-metal meets hardcore songs. I don't know whether it is that I'm too caught in the moment to notice, or that it genuinely doesn't make a difference, I'm not at all bothered by the lack of stage dynamics from the two guitarists' side - too often they limit themselves to the usual one-foot-on-amp stance. Or maybe it's the energy of Guy, Greg and the crowd that makes me oblivious to it.


The Black Dahlia Murder

The Black Dahlia Murder enters the stage not long after The Red Chord's set, but curiously the crowd is relatively silent. So I decide to acquire a more central position along the barrier in order to shoot a couple of good photos, thinking this set will be somewhat more peaceful. Mistake. As soon as "Everything Went Black" explodes from the speakers, an unexplainable phenomenon best described as a wall of death directly against the stage spawns leaving me struggling to protect my camera and my bones. It simply gets too frantic after a few songs, and I decide to observe from a bit farther back before returning up front to snap some photos. Something is wrong though; the crowd goes absolutely mental but there is no heartfelt energy. Vocalist Trevor does his best to show that he is absolutely fucking insane, but his band looks like they hardly want to be there.

Nonetheless, it's not too long before an enormous moshpit emerges that just as soon transforms into an enormous circle pit forcing the more peaceful concert goers against the walls. "This is what I'm talking about!" Still, a malevolent feeling of absence radiates the from the band. Maybe it's the nature of the music - fast, dark and nihilistic - I don't know, but it just feels like the crowd is moshing and moving for its own sake and the band is some sort of dull background jam band playing to a pub full of unappreciative drunks. There is an utter lack of connection and inspiration, so I decide to use the opportunity to take a bathroom break before Job For A Cowboy. There I find two dozen crowd members with bruises, bleeding noses and black marks cooling off and, I assume, preparing to bleed more in the next show. Needless to say, I'm disappointed by The Black Dahlia Murder's set, but I still don't quite know why. Was it that they simply weren't on par with The Red Chord? Or their young age? I don't know.

Job For A Cowboy

Job For A Cowboy have accumulated underground stardom in no time, being hailed almost as legends of sorts, and this shone through with remarkable clarity as I scanned the audience. Not only had the bar area emptied, the look in the eyes of every crowd member was that of tension. Soon after, Job For A Cowboy enters the stage to an upbeat, orchestral background track and to an ocean of fists and horns, just as The Red Chord, the pandemonium replaced by an even more iniquitous atmosphere. If there's one word to describe Job For A Cowboy's presence, it's powerful as fuck. These guys glare at the audience with pure evil in their eyes with wicked grins on their faces before launching into the mayhem that is Job For A Cowboy's music.

In all honesty, I've never seen anything like this before; the crowd isn't restricted to mere moshpits and circle pits, they're simply all moving in what looks like violent spasms, as if a thousand moshpits were suddenly realized and merged. What I'm looking at seems more like a scene from Braveheart than from a metal concert. "Wow", is all I can mutter as I marvel at the sheer power resonating from the stage. Vocalist Jonny Davy delivers his grunts and growls with a passion rarely seen in this genre of music while his guitarists fire up their fretboards with incredible skill and devotion. Again, I'm not at all bothered by the relatively static set, for my eyes are fixated on Jonny's remarkable showmanship. He's like the Anders Fridén of death metal. Hell, he even looks like Anders Fridén. I can't say I have much experience with Job For A Cowboy on record, but holy hell do they sound good live. The music and the way it's delivered is simply brutal and loud like nothing I've ever seen or heard before. I'd advise anyone who's ever heard of Job For A Cowboy to get out there and see them live as soon as possible. I've experienced this kind of trance just once, watching Tool live at Roskilde Festival - just to give you a point of comparison.

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