@ Newcastle O2 Academy 2, January 20 2012

Riding high on the back of last year’s Ritual opus, Detroit extremists The Black Dahlia Murder embarked on a mammoth jaunt across the UK this month.

It’s a fine way to mark a decade in the business and a diverse bill featuring Ohio’s blackened thrashers Skeletonwitch and Italian symphonic metallers Fleshgod Apocalypse helped draw a healthy crowd on Tyneside. 

Fleshgod were greeted warmly and their string-laden , Dimmu-esque sound had plenty of bombast. Tracks such as The Violation were well executed and despite the bow ties and facepaint making them look like zombie waiters, they’re no novelty act.

Skeletonwitch boast a logo straight from the 1987 Guide To Metal Calligraphy, wield flying Vs and have a bearded vocalist (Chance Garnette) who sports an indecipherable black metal logo on his vest.

They mean business and they certainly delivered tonight: their fusion of thrash, death and black metal created a wonderful, dark stew, bursting with mid-80s neck snapping riffage and chunks of frostbitten, Scandinavian grimness.

Skeletonwitch took some topping, but TBDM just about managed it. The quintet have a formidable live reputation and in frontman Trevor Strnad, are spearheaded by a ball of manic energy. He was funny and engaging, an antidote to some of the po-faced posturing occasionally found in the extreme metal scene.

Disappointingly, some of the band’s melodic suss was blunted by a bottom-heavy mix and Ryan Knight’s stunning leads only occasionally made their presence truly felt.

But the sound did nothing to stifle the band’s passionate delivery and they blasted the crowd with old faves such as Everything Went Black as well as plenty of Ritual-era material – the grinding, slowburn of On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood and the blistering Moonlight Equilibrium were particular highlights.

Death metal, deathcore… call them what you will. What matters to TBDM is having a damn good time playing the music they love. And tonight they took everyone along with them.

Richard Holmes