"A glorious, beautiful, wonderful return: you really should have been there." The Black Dahlia Murder just put on the most vital and emotional set of Download 2024; it sucks more people weren't there to see it

The Black Dahlia Murder move into an emotional new chapter in glorious fashion at Download

The Black Dahlia Murder
(Image: © Youtube (The Black Dahlia Murder))

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Considering the circumstances, it is a real shame that The Dogtooth Stage is less than half full for what should be an emotional return from one of the most beloved and consistent death metal bands of the New Millennium. That, though, is out of the control of The Black Dahlia Murder, and as a band that have faced far more adversity than a less-than full tent in the last few years, it clearly doesn’t faze them one iota. 

Sprinting onstage and immediately bursting into the title track of 2020’s Verminous album, it immediately becomes clear that this new line up of TBDM are as tight, scabrous and savage as they have ever been. It’s also just as clear that, as small in number they may be, everyone in this tent absolutely adores this band, the circle pits, banging heads and roars of approval seeming far more intense than any other band have received this weekend. Settling in as his new role as frontman, former guitarist Brian Eschbach introduces the debut of new song Aftermath, which has the venomous, swerving death metal grooves of The Black Dahlia Murder at their absolute best.

The likes of What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse and Nightbringers haven’t lost an inch of the pace or gruesome brutality that made them such important parts of the band's canon, and when a gorilla in a basketball kit invades the stage to bang his head during a spite-filled Statutory Ape it’s proof that The Black Dahlia Murder’s, ahem, unique sense of humour is still present and correct. 

But of course, the one thing on many people’s minds in how Brian will manage to fill the boots of the much-missed, much-loved, late, great Trevor Strnad on vocals. He’s clearly still learning, but when he says “We’re obviously a different band to last time you saw us...” and a chant of “Trevor! Trevor!” spontaneously starts up across the entire tent, it’s not only an emotional moment, but also one that seems to give Brian more confidence. “My man would want you to start a circle pit!” he cheekily barks just before the closing Deathmask Divine, and when that pit begins circling the entire tent you can see just how much the band are enjoying themselves. And, after what they’ve been through, if any band deserves it, it’s The Black Dahlia Murder. A glorious, beautiful, wonderful return, you really should have been there.

The Black Dahlia Murder Download 2024 setlist

Kings Of The Nightworld
On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood
What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse
Statutory Ape
Everything Went Black
I Will Return
Deathmask Divine

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.