Home Gigs Gig Review : Black Dahlia Murder Crystal Lake Limelight Belfast

Gig Review : Black Dahlia Murder Crystal Lake Limelight Belfast

30 min read

Review by Richard Henry for MPM

Here we are number two of three in a row and the death metal fest continues, after Suffocation tonight it’s the turn of Black Dahlia Murder to hit the Limelight 2, first up though, from Tokyo is Crystal Lake, now I have to be honest I don’t know any of these guys tracks so I am really looking forward to hearing them for the first time!

Crystal Lake


From The Sign album, clean guitar to kick it off and then it comes in with an almost hardcore sounding part instrumentally, then it breaks in the chorus section with the clean vocal coming in and a melody guitar coming in over the part, adds some real light to an otherwise brutal section, then another melody part before the synth comes in and then there is a breakdown part, then the blasts come in, the end riff is so dropped down and heavy, great track to kick these guys off!

Six Feet Under

From the album True North, again in with an almost hardcore vibe musically, even with the vocals and the drum breakdown, okay yeah with the gang vocals this is definitely more hardcore and then that riff after is pure Knuckledust sounding, I love this one for sure, then the next riff comes in as do the blasts, nice change there and then back into the gang vocals again, a more deathhore ending to it, but thats a banger of a track!


Thats a pure Deathcore start to that, a down right heavy disgusting groove part kicks this one right off, then it builds up in tempo and a really groovy part then kicks in, that’s surely one for the pit that part there, then the gang vocals come in for the chorus part, really works well with all the guys singing the part, nice solo right there before another slamming riff hits in and the fast kicks come in over that crawling riff then it starts to slow right down and bang a really heavy grinding part to close this one out!


From 2017, blast beats and growls right from the off, this one is proper aggressive, its a real swirling mix of pure aggression, starting and stopping and then a break for some electronic sounding vocals before this tom groove comes in that then builds up into an absolutely disgustingly heavy riff, that then slows down, that crushing that part, then into a really cool triplet picked riff that rides the song out, really loved that one!


From the Helix album, this almost reminds me of Dillinger in parts, its almost like a math core song in a way, the tempo is way up there as well, blast beating away before we have breakdown into breakdown, some really nice riffs in there are great energy from all the band, frontman John is commanding at the front of the stage, when you get into the middle it starts to really get into deathhore territory with the stop start riff and the double bass part in between it, great track!


From a 2023 single, spoken intro to this and then boom, in comes the band in a stop start part at the start of this song, its everything and nothing the way its et up with all the spaces between parts being silent bar there tracks that are playing from the computer, not a long song at all but really cool!


Newest track, only released this year, comes in with a very electronica sounding intro with crushing guitars, when the song kicks in its a really pit sort of song, really bouncy, its a pity the pit in here hasn’t really woke up yet, something we are bad at in Belfast at times, that is a crushing chorus section before it breaks back into the electronic part again, really good use of the backing vocals in this to add punch to the song with all the guys bar the drummer getting involved, the end section has a really twisty cool riff as well!

Lost in Forever

From the Helix album, a really melodic lead line kicks this one off with the band thrashing away under it, then a really cool thrash verse riff comes in and there is counter point between the two guitars before it hits a really uptempo heavy pre chorus and the chorus is really singable when it hits in, again its really sort of happy and uplifting sounding, then in the middle another riff comes in like a harmonica driven riff, then another section thats really bouncy comes in, great track building, again there is a load of melody in here to catch hold of, another really cool track!

Watch Me Burn

Last track and a chance for a singalong for everyone, its almost really happy sounding, and the crowd are bouncing away, then the tempo comes up a bit, back and forward between thrash beats but actually remaining pretty melodic, especially in the chorus section, a good few guys in here know the song cause they are singing away the chorus part back at the band, then a real slow slam part comes in, its just great energy coming from all members of the band, everyone is really putting on a show which is great to see it not just from the frontman, really impressed with these guys tonight, great band!!

Black Dahlia Murder


Kicking in with the title track of the 2020 album, throbbing double bass and the harmony guitars are there, the sound is great already, really clear, then it all kicks in and straight into thrash territory, tight as a drum, then slows right down into then into the dual harmony rhythm part, I am not saying I am hear to stare at Brandon Ellis every time he plays a solo, but yeah here we are as he peels off an incredible solo, lovely guitar sound as well, great reception from the crowd as well, after being a bit quiet for some of the night its clear everyone knows these guys!

What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse

Long title out of the way, this one from the Nocturnal Album, and we are picking up the tempo on this one with the blast beats kicking right in which seems to start the guys in the pit as well, Brian prowling the stage screaming away like a demented madman, great energy coming from the guys up there, the playing is superb, must be strange going from Download to the Limelight 2 but if anything this is probably more intense in a more intimate venue, another blistering solo rips by, both Brandon and Ryan are a formidable tag team up there!

Kings of the Nightworld

From the Nightbringers album, thats a really heavy riff and then the crushing double bass comes in and the circle pit starts again, its a flurry of hair up there and circle headbanging along with this one, I love that little lead counter point riff that is moving along with the main riff, adds so much to it, great gang vocals from the other guys on this one as well and the audience getting involved, that a solo right from the Jason Becker school there, reminds me of Cacophony in a way which to be fair every time I hear Brandon I instantly get 80s Shrapnel records vibes, another belter track!


Only released a couple of days ago, this is the new track from the upcoming album Servitude, straight up thrash intro to this and then it is bang and into the blasts, what a way to announce your new album, again its just surgically precise, dizzying riffing and well it would be rude not to mention when it breaks to that solo which just starts off so melodic, then a little bit of flash, lovely, actually reminds me of something Jeff Loomis would have played in Arch Enemy, then the kicks come in and we are starting to pick up tempo again and yeah there are the blasts again as we ride out to the end of the track, another pit favourite!

Sunless Empire

Back to Verminous again for this one, and in with a dual counterpoint riff over a double bass groove, then a good bit slower, a real crushing verse part on this a real dragging sort of riff, few people bouncing about in the pit behind me and then it turns onto a circle pit when the next part comes in and speeds up, another lovely melodic solo comes in as the pace comes way down and then there is a really cool groove over the second part of the solo, all eyes on the guitarist then back out into the counter point riff again, great track!

Carbonized in Cruciform

Ritual album for this one, I would say this almost starts like a melodic black metal track Ala Dimmu or someone like that, thats my first impression of that intro riff then it changes and the double kicks come in and start blasting you in the face, then another tempo change and a thrash beat comes in, vocals changing between guttural and then screams, the chorus part is just devastating with the double kicks and the grind before switching to all out blasts, again there is some nuts drum work going on back there, then a staggering riff comes in on the middle part before we have a blinding solo, full of sweeps and some nice bluesy runs in there, really cool, then the kicks are back, full on mayhem in here on this one, another banger of a track!

Statutory Ape

Well its a thing, you need your protein and potassium and these guys are making sure that it happens with a few people getting a bit of banana in the front row, well played, anyway back to the song, from the Miasma album, love that riff right at the start, its a great harmony part before an old school almost black metal blast comes in, I am just a sucker for harmony guitars, that riff under the double kicks is just nasty and abrasive, again the sound guy has it spot on tonight, its a great mix and you can hear everything, I’m trying not to gush over every solo, but, they are just perfect, its just an all out assault this one from start to finish!!!

On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood

From the ritual album, lovely ominous double bass groove at the start of this one and then an almost Meshuggah groove, nice break in tempo with this one as well, really nice bass work on this one from Max on this, also great bass sound really snappy, then back into the kicks and the slow riff, really brutal in a different way to some of the other tracks so far, oh hang on, yeah the blasts are back again, then the solo comes in and its a lovely piece of melodic work with some really cool little runs in there, lots of diminished parts at the end, then bang into an almost switch blast sounding part, then the bass break again, it sounds very Alex Webster which is a good thing, adds another counter point to what the guitars are doing, great track, love it!

Everything Went Black

Nocturnal album for this one, and after the slower pace of the last one, this is like getting hit with a sock full of pool balls, slapped in the face with violence, I should have known after the last one, this is just nasty and aggressive, when you do break a bit its into a really cool twin guitar riff, and the drums are dancing in tempo around it, lots of tapping and speed picking in that solo, again the drums are back and forward in what they are doing always switching about and keeping it interesting, and its just full on onslaught out to the finish of this one!

Child of Night

From the Verminous album, almost a Cannibal Corpse sort of feeling riff and part at the start of this with the staggered bass and drum part, before the fast riff comes in and the blast beats furiously come in over it, drummer Alan is just a machine back there, then halfway through it breaks and there is a lovely dual harmony riff that comes in, another fantastic melodic solo comes in and if you are a guitarist this is the gig you should have been at, lovely drum work changing patterns under the riff, bulldozer of a track!


From the album of the same name, nice mid tempo banger start top this one, again the melodic outer pointing riff, then a really choppy bouncing riff comes in, when the double kicks come in I immediately thought At the Gates, thats what it reminded me of, lots of bar abuse in that solo, love the tempo change as well halfway through it, gave it a really nice kick, its also nice to pace the set where its not all high paced blasting songs, really lets the set breathe and also with all the melody it never gets brutal just for the sake of it, classic track!


From the album of the same name, again I just get black metal vibes off this one, like Emperor or something, and its fast as all hell, then it breaks to a thrash tempo and another great dual harmony riff, the crowd are a bit like Suffocation the other night, there are times they need to liven up a bit, that double bass section is just class, then a really nice solo comes in again full of that Neo classical style harmony, not just as shred in parts and really melodic, really nice break in the song before we hit back into the thrash and then blast parts, brutal!

Funeral Thirst

Unhallowed for this track, and yeah its unrelenting now this one with the both ends of the vocal the lows and the highs and the tempo is just absolutely crazy, the pit has actually woke up on this one, the solo really breaks this one up, sort of providing a bit of relief from the rest of the song, because as soon as the solo is over the trem picked riff comes in and the tempo picks way up again and we are back into blast beat land again, an absolutely savage track!

I Will Return

So as much as the guys behind us wanted 10 more songs, unfortunately Brian informs us there is only two so its time to give it all you have in the pit so off we go, to Defoliate for this one, and its a stuttering riff with a counter point melody over the top of it for the start of this one, then after a drum roll its back in with the blast beats and then the vocals come in and all hell breaks loose, pit has opened up and I see the singer from Crystal Lake is in there giving a hand to get it going, again its just non stop on this one and the solo is yet again the sort of relief from the constant bombardment of blast beats, not that anyone is complaining about the intensity of the gig, that leaves us one more song!

Deathmask Devine

Back to the Nocturnal album to close out the night, and you guessed it, bang straight in and for the first time tonight we have a few crowd surfers, thrash to blast beats and back again, its not to the middle where the double kicks come in to give us a break then it slows down for the solo section and the last chance to watch this guitar duo in action, peeling off another unreal solo, then back to the blasts, brutal track to close out the set!

That was intense, thats the best way to describe tonight, at no point between the two bands was there any breathing space, it was full on intensity all night, just the way we like it!!

Photography by Paul Verner for MPM

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