A Death Metal Cloud Looms Over Anaheim

Article & Photos by Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Fleshgod Apocalypse photos by Chris Loomis

On July 4th, I turned 31. I spent the day with my family aboard the famous haunted star liner, The Queen Mary. I had a really fun time eating some good food, taking the haunted tour of the ship, and watching the fireworks. 2 days later, the celebration continued for me when I headed for the House of Blues of Anaheim to see myself an array of death metal bands. The 2 headliners of the evening were the Black Dahlia Murder and Whitechapel, with Fleshgod Apocalypse, Shadow of Intent, and Aversions Crown tagging along. I saw Black Dahlia Murder at last year’s Summer Slaughter Festival, performing 2007’s Nocturnal in its entirety, and I had a blast seeing them. This would be my first time seeing Whitechapel and Fleshgod Apocalypse. I did not get a chance to check out Aversions Crown or Shadow of Intent, but I am sure the killed.

I have heard of the band Fleshgod Apocalypse, but I had no idea what they were about. They are a symphonic death metal group Perugia, Italy, that has a theatrical look on stage. They donned Victorian style clothing, looking like characters from Interview With a Vampire. I was fascinated by their sound and stage presence. Francesco Paoli, who was the band’s drummer for 8 years, recently took over guitar and vocal duties since the departure of Tommaso Riccardi in 2017, and he killed it on the mic. Pianist Francesco Ferrini did a nice job with the orchestral effects with each song, while bassist Paolo Rossi nailed each bass note while also handling clean vocal duties. Touring lead guitarist Fabio Bartoletti makes a fine addition with his sinister solos. With some help from operatic songstress Veronica Bordacchini, Fleshgod Apocalypse won me over with songs like “Cold as Perfection,” “Epilogue,” “The Fool,” and “The Egoism.”

Full Fleshgod Apocalypse slide show below:

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Whitechapel is another group that I heard a lot of good things about, but have yet to see them for myself. For their set, they played their 2008 album, This Is Exile, in its entirety. It is amazing to think that album, which is considered their major breakthrough record, is 10 years old. Whitechapel put on one of the most brutal sets I have ever seen from a death metal group. Phil Bozeman was a brute force of nature on the microphone, hollering with aggression. Ben Savage shredded some mean-ass leads, while Alex Wade and Zach Householder were riff-making machines. Current tour drummer Ernie Iniguez and bassist Gabe Crisp roared through the night with the beats and bangs. From “Father of Lies” to “Possession,” “To All That are Dead,” “Exalt,” “Death Becomes Him,” and “Eternal Refuge,” Whitechapel was vicious and chaotic with their set, something metal fans love to mosh to. After finishing up playing the album, they came back out to give fans 2 more songs from their debut album, The Somatic Defilement. A great set from a ferocious band.

Full Whitechapel slide show below:

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It has been almost a year, but it was seeing The Black Dahlia Murder back on the stage. I missed them at Knotfest because I was busy in the press area interviewing other artists, so this makes up for it. Frontman Trevor Strnad, with his monstrous voice, still proves that he is one of the best vocalists in death metal today. While handling vocal duties, he also moved his hands like a conductor, directing the metalheads to sing along. Last year, they dropped their latest hit LP, Nightbringers, which was one of my top picks of 2017. They played the entire album live for the fans to enjoy, and they are head over heels for it. Brandon Ellis joined the band 2 years ago as their new lead guitarist, and his wicked solo licks make him an excellent addition. Along with rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach, bassist Max Lavelle, and drummer Alan Cassidy, Black Dahlia gave the fans a fierce performance with songs like “Widowmaker,” “Of God and Serpent, of Spectre and Snake,” “Kings of the Nightworld,” “Nightbringers,” and “As Good as Dead.” They even threw 3 songs from Nocturnal. 

Full Black Dahlia Murder slide show below:

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For the entire evening, death metal was brewing up a storm that fans were dancing to. It was one of the best concerts I have been to all year, and I have seen Slayer. Both Black Dahlia Murder and Whitechapel exceeded my expectations with playing their 2 albums, and Fleshgod Apocalypse seared into my mind as a great act that I want to see again in the future. This was a happy birthday for me. To Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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