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Album Reviews : The Black Dahlia Murder – Fool ‘Em All

By on June 19, 2014

I have heard it said before, that bands are better heard and not seen, as documentaries can do a band a great disservice. With a particular sound comes a specific image to the mind of a listener, and there is nothing that can sabotage that image more efficiently than an interview or documentary of your favorite band where you realize that the charisma and attitude begins and ends with the stage, and that, in reality, your heroes are just dull, uninteresting morons without anything particularly appealing to say.

The Black Dahlia Murder’s Fool `Em All is definitely not in the aforementioned category. Fool `Em All is a pleasant (said somewhat sarcastically) little seventy-eight trip with The Black Dahlia Murder and their experiences with the Warped tour and a tour of Europe; that’s all you really need to know here, as the tour is incidental. Where this documentary shines is in the interactions and character study of the members, and the uproarious truth that these guys are just that: a bunch of guys who love what they do and love doing it. Whilst broaching the subject of line-up changes, from the inclusion of Ryan Knight some years back, and addition of Alan Cassidy the band handles it with a vast amount of maturity, as would be befitting of a band that has been around as long as they have. However, the note of maturity is held brief, as the documentary devolves into tour bus and off stage shenanigans; it is immature, crass and borders on crude, but you know what? It is entertaining.

Whilst it is not immune to its serious moments, the majority of the piece is the members of the band and a slice of their lives on the road, with all the humor and gripes that go with it. Fool `Em All does not play it safe with its subjects and their lives, from their recreational drug use to their interactions between shows; it is a warts and all representation of a death metal band. For all its buffoonery there is a sobering fact to be found here, and it is not something the likes of only a deeply enquiring mind will find; this band are metal lovers who went on to be the guys they admired, and even as the members themselves marvel in the idea of that, it is an inspiring thing to behold.

There is nothing in the subject matter, or subjects themselves, here that hides this, and whilst it is far from being a raw expose’ of the band, it is an honest construal that is both humorous and enjoyable, with its share of serious gravitas. Admittedly the 3-D glasses gimmick (Yes, it comes with 3-D glasses) is basically just that: a gimmick, it is a neat little addition that doesn’t detract from the experience, and even then, where it is thankfully underused, it still has its moments. The entirety of Fool `Em All can be surmised in vocalist Trevor Strnad’s (Who I still think is the love child of Jack Black and Kevin Smith) admission that -and I paraphrase- it is death metal, it is allowed to be corny as well as being over the top; it’s death metal, don’t be a pussy. A phrase I will be using from now on, I assure you.

The whole thing is put together incredibly well, with each member having their say, and each having their moment, and all the moments in between where you no longer see the band, you see a group of friends having fun and generally being a bunch of big kids. There is an enjoyable authenticity to the captured thoughts of these musicians that, whilst not what I’d call refreshing, is unmistakably genuine. It is absolutely watchable; a treat for fans and a good starting off point for the uninitiated.

But wait, there’s more! Fool `Em All also comes with a second disk featuring a collection of songs from The Black Dahlia Murder’s time at Warped and in Europe. If you know The Black Dahlia Murder, you know what you are in for, and that is some solid, heavy death metal portrayed with all the chaos of a live show. Whilst I found some of the edits and cuts a bit jarring, as it was clearly put together from other shows on their respective tours, it didn’t take away from the experience. The levity and jovial nature of the band, and their interactions between the members and the crowd, that was talked about during the documentary, is on full display here.

The energy is off the scale, as the band does what does, and does it well. For a band that has undergone its share of shake ups and line-up changes, it only serves to show that this is a band that can endure. It is telling in their music that they are an act that is consistent with having become stagnant, and that is a great thing. Whilst a cursory perusal will pick up on the niggling little details, like members wearing different shirts, and a few notes here or there getting messed up, the look and sound is polished and solid. Definitely one of the better live concerts I have seen put on film.

Fool `Em All, from its call backs to Metallica in the DVD artwork and title, to the cameos from members of Entombed and In Flames, is a joy to watch. Capturing the moments you don’t see from a band like this, as well as the scenes you definitely were expecting; it is a good look behind the curtain with guys you can identify with and can gain an appreciation for. I will tell you this for naught; it has made me a fan of The Black Dahlia Murder. It is a great package; come for the documentary, stay for the music.

Band: The Black Dahlia Murder
Title: Fool ‘Em All
Year: 2014
Genre: Death metal
Label: Metal Blade
Origin: USA

Live @ Warped Tour track list:
1. In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me
2. Into the Everblack
3. Den of the Picquerist
4. What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse
5. Everything Went Black
6. Moonlight Equilibrium
7. On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
8. Necropolis
9. Phantom Limb Masturbation
10. I Will Return

About

Hailing from parts unknown (actually, it’s Melbourne), Tristan is a freelance writer and lover of metal, with a special place in his heart for Power and Folk metal. After playing in a number of local Melbourne metal bands, and completing his Bachelor of Arts, Tristan focuses his attention to the pursuit of writing, practicing the Liechtenauer School of swordsmanship, dabbling in Cosplay and reciting Babylon 5 quotes; in addition to hunting for a publisher for his novel. Until then, he enjoys metal, writing about metal and convincing people around his office that he is immortal and has lived for 3,000 years. (So far only the chick in HR is buying it)