“Should we hit the bong… Before we begin?”
You need to be able to laugh at yourself if you are an aficionado of death metal. If one can take a step back and find the humor in their circumstances then their overall appreciation of the genre will be increased tenfold. The posturing and machismo that plagues metal in general is laughable, with bands penning songs about demons, possession, graphic violence and death – who can really take of all of this stuff seriously? Thankfully there are many out there who are aware of the comical nature of being a death metal musician and The Black Dahlia Murder are maybe the finest example of this. Their new DVD, Fool ‘Em All, picks up exactly where Majesty left off in terms of the bands sense of humor and the unceasing professionalism that propels them forward.
The DVD follows the band through their Warped Tour stint last year and briefly features their European headlining stint, alongside Revocation and Aborted, which I managed to catch on their Scottish date. It is very clear that the band knew they were out of their element on Warped, with bassist Max Lavelle in particular being very vocal about his lack of respect for many of the bands they were sharing a stage with. It was a shrewd business decision however, as Warped is a massive tour giving the band a platform to expose themselves to many who may have never heard anything of the like. The perplexed looks on the faces of some of the tour attendees is magical, much like when you show a friend metal for the first time. The dedicated fans can still be seen at the front of every stop, singing along to every twisted line that Trevor Strnad bellows out, a welcome sight showing that death metal purists will go to any length to get the opportunity to see their beloved Black Dahlia boys.
Where Fool ‘Em All differs from Majesty is in its refreshing candidness, preferred rectal hygiene wipes and all. The band’s fairly high turnaround of members is explained in great detail, with the reasons behind the departure of long serving guitarist John K made clear following his departure at the end of the last DVD. The three new members in Lavelle, Ryan Knight and Alan Cassidy are clearly the kind of people that one associates with the bands innate sense of tongue in cheek metal behavior. Cassidy, the man unfortunate enough to have to fill the shoes of the departed Shannon Willliams, seems to fit in seamlessly. The older members of the band taking on a big brother role with him while still being in awe of his unquestionable talent behind the kit is testament to their making the right decision in recruiting him.
The fun factor is definitely still here, with the added 3D elements a hilarious little add on. Hot dogs, weaponized dildo spraying accordions and force fields aplenty, these sections are silly, great fun and another reason why The Black Dahlia Murder are regarded as a “fun” metal band. The behind the scenes antics of beer swilling, weed smoking and lots and lots of wrestling may seem childish and immature to many but these are clearly by products of being a touring band. The in fighting and tense moments (when a certain founding member tazes their tour manager, things get testy) are few and far between but are obviously part and parcel when a group of males are stuck on a bus for months at a time and need to vent.
The live section of the DVD is split between their Warped set and a portion of their European headlining set. The audio is lifted from the live sound but lacks the distinct background ambiance of a live crowd. The shots are a montage of all of the dates, fleeting between members during particular instrumental sections and into the crowd via a pitcam in the Warped set. The track list is an eclectic mix of every album. Fan favorites like ‘Den Of The Picquerist’ and ‘Necropolis’ take their rightful place alongside several tracks from the brilliant Everblack. ‘Phantom Limb Masturbation’ and ‘Goat Of Departure’ live sound just as brutal as on record while the familiar twangs of ‘Statutory Ape’ and closer ‘I Will Return’ ensure that fans of every album have their appetite satiated.
While just as fun and bold as ever, Fool ‘Em All has nearly half the running time of Majesty which is slightly disappointing but not detrimental enough to knock down its quality. The live component of the DVD has a great, varied track list and sounds great but is it too much to ask the band to perform ‘To A Breathless Oblivion’ just once?! The Black Dahlia Murder continue to be this authors favorite band on the planet and with this newest release they have solidified my justification for this. Brutal, melodic metal played expertly by people who are, first and foremost, fans of heavy music and the people that come along with it. The band are wholly appreciative of their fans and hopefully they know just how much it means to each and every one of us that they take the time out of their lives to share excellent music and good times with us.