When I got in to the venue, there was something or other going on at the DCU center, and parking was hard to come by; I parked in the usual lot, but it took two passes through the lot to find somewhere that wasn't occupied. The only comfort in it was that this looked like a kid-type event, and would thus be over when the show got out.
Inside, the merch stand was six rows deep and the bar was empty. I shook my head at the Kindermenge, got a beer, and headed down for the front; my primary interest at this one was in the first two bands, and if the people who are concentrating on the headliner are standing in line waiting to buy gear, they're not camping the front row. I did get up pretty close, about where I usually end up when I decide to go down front at Palladium gigs.
Decrepit Birth [6/7]
There was a bit of a wait before the band went on, but when they finally came out, it was well worth the wait. The sound board didn't handle the new material optimally, but given how badly opening bands have been jobbed at this venue in the past, it wasn't all that bad. While their older Suffocation-styled stuff is really strong, the performance of the new stuff is what really sets them apart, and the execution here was excellent. A few places might have been a little tighter, but there's pretty much no one playing this kind of death metal right now, and as good as the fusion of late Death and traditional brutality is on the new album, there's definitely the sense from this performance that they can still develop it further and do something really groundbreaking.
What was most remakable out of this performance was the degree to which Decrepit Birth has the bass double not the rhythm guitar, but the lead. Matt, of course, did all the stringed instruments on the new disc, and he's primarily a guitarist, so it's perhaps not too surprising, but it still is interesting to watch and hear -- because it's a cool effect, and because as a bassist, I'm far too lazy and unskilled to ever pull off something like that.
Hate Eternal [6/7]
This is the second time I've seen this band, on both occasions at this venue, and also the second time that I've seen them get absolutely jobbed by the sound board. For most of the first song, the guitars were so low they might as well not have been there, and Erik's might as well have been unplugged well into the second song for all the sound he was able to get out of it. Fortunately, they overcame this and put up a really good, really intense set that pumped up the crowd and informed those down front who didn't know exactly what is involved in being on the floor at a death metal show: namely, that no one is safe anywhere, ever. A few took advantage of the breaks between songs to go back, but most, including quite a few of these guys, did stand in, and hopefully were better for the experience. Unlike the last time they were around, they did play "Behold Judas", and yes, it was wicked cool.
Following this set, I walked back up to the bar area; the part I came for was done, and now it was time for merch, etc, before the bonus started. I nabbed a bunch of Decrepit Birth stuff, drank some Jager, and ended up back down on the first level above the floor, in what appeared to be kind of the RTTP tier; I ran into three or four people that I knew a lot better by screename than by face, all back up off the floor and entertaining at least a little skepticism about the coming bands.
3 Inches of Blood [5/7]
Once upon a time, this band was a joke, doing the early-80s power-metal deal for the lulz. The last time I saw them, it was uncertain how much it was for real or still a gag; on this go-round, there was very little doubt that this is now about 100% serious, in what has become probably one of the oddest turns in recent musical history. Now, 3 Inches of Blood is a classically styled power metal band in the vein of Saxon and Grim Reaper -- if with occasional decays into hardcore in long sets -- and if they're not terribly original to the ear of an old fart who has a prominent Running Wild patch at the top of his jacket, they're definitely novel to the majority of BDM's audience. It remains to be seen just how many, if any, of the kids in attendance will actually go out and get into, say, Manowar or Grave Digger as a result of this band, but as a reminder of heavy metal history, it's pretty cool and noteworthy.
I did a second swing by the merch table later and picked up a superstrip from these guys; I don't know precisely where it's going to go (on the ultralight, obviously), but I do kind of have a trigger impulse as regards getting patches.
The Black Dahlia Murder [5.5/7]
Yes, split scores suck. However, there isn't really an easy way to address this: in a longer set, they don't have quite enough awesome material to keep up their string of really strong live sets to date, but it was still a good performance. I noticed more of the less-inspired stuff that I remember clogging up their records than I'd seen from them live in the past, but they still had more material that sounded good and original than stuff that came off as tired and recycled from the heyday of the NWOSDM. Outside of the music, there were several injury timeouts in the pit -- a good thing for all those except the people who had to get taken out for medical attention -- and they flavored "Statutory Ape" with a dude in a gorilla suit running out and jumping out into the audience. Good stuff; still not quite my style, but as a bonus to Hate Eternal and Decrepit Birth, it was all right.
What wasn't, quite, was the presence in their merch stall of a certain shirt featuring the band's name done up in the style of At The Gates' Slaughter of the Soul. Maybe the band's just poking fun at the critics -- self included -- who still call them out for biting too hard on Gothenburg's best, but I'm not a fan of the whole "write your band name in someone else's logo form" thing. This didn't influence the score above, but it may influence perceptions of anyone who happened to buy one of these shirts.
The drive back was pretty uneventful; the show got out around 11, and the roads were more or less empty -- none of the trucks all over the place that I typically get coming back from Metal Thursdays -- until I got back to 128. It was a little early a night, but still definitely a good time overall. Next gig is up in Manchester at the end of the week; I'm going to have to do that one right from work, and also find my way to a new venue, but it's worth it to try to get up and see Rohirrim again, plus all the good -- if much more grindy/slammy -- bands ahead of them on the bill.