Friday the 13th in Atlanta brought on fanatical superstitions and fear in some residents, while others lined up during the day for lucky $13 tattoos at local tattoo parlors, but the night was left for the metalheads. Playing to a packed house, Hour of Penance, Skeletonwitch, and Nile opened up for The Black Dahlia Murder in Heaven at the Masquerade. Friday the 13th turned out to be an interesting night as punk rockers packed into Hell, rappers lived in Purgatory, and all the rock fisting, headbanging metalheads crowded into Heaven. Not exactly the mixed crowd you would expect to encounter and even more bizarre considering that these were all-ages shows.

Ok, back to what matters – death metal. The first opener was Hour of Penance, a technical brutal death metal band from Italy, touring for their fifth full-length album, Sedition. Formed in 1999, Hour of Penance ripped into songs about anti-religion, torture, morality, and social issues. The second band, Skeletonwitch, was a favorite of local horror fiends with their big, black leather spiked armbands and shredding guitar riffs. (Even Danzig digs ‘em as he handpicked them to play his 2008 Blackest of the Black tour!) Their latest album, 2011’s Forever Abomination is their fourth full-length and was produced and recorded by Matt Hyde (Slayer, Hatebreed). Nile played third and the crowd heated up and threw more rock fists than for the previous bands. They may have been the most well-known band out of the night’s line up, having the longest track record after forming in 1993. On tour for their seventh studio album, At The Gates of Sethu, this band played songs pertaining to ancient Egyptian themes.

Heaven was packed out the entire night and when The Black Dahlia Murder took the stage, the crowd of metalheads let loose their enthusiasm in roars and groans of delight. (Side note – Ladies, if you are looking for a guy, then hit up a metal show – the odds are good that you’ll meet a longhaired, beefy, tattooed guy or a skinny one with a shaved head. Either way – you’ll have plenty of men wearing black t-shirts to choose from!) Lead singer Trevor Strnad commanded and held the audience captive during their whole set by jumping around, flailing his arms, screaming and growling, pumping his fists, and telling the metalheads what to do – jump so he could feel the floor move or headbang from the waist – and the metalheads were all too happy to oblige his requests. From that standpoint, it was one of the tightest shows between band and audience that I’ve seen in a while. This Michigan-based band formed in 2001 and was on tour for its fifth full-length album, Ritual. And after what I saw at the show, metal is definitely a ritual for those who love it.

Out of the four bands, I enjoyed Skeletonwitch and The Black Dahlia Murder the best. Hey, what can I say? I like men who wear leather and spikes, and those with exuberant stage presence. Exuberance is definitely contagious. Also, didn’t hurt that The Black Dahlia Murder had a zombie girly tee. The Black Dahlia Murder was definitely worth seeing on Friday the 13th!

Photos ©2012 Geoff Millwood