If there’s one album that’s been receiving a lot of hype in the extreme metal scene recently, then it’s this small matter of a new Black Dahlia Murder album. Not content with resting on their laurels, the band decided to create something so immense that it broke the record for number of pre-orders in Metal Blade history. The question is, just how immense is this album?
If the opening track “Widowmaker” is anything to go by, then holy balls is it heavy. Harnessing the pure rage of vocalist Trevor and the rest of the band, it’s a lesson in how to create a heavy a melodic death metal song. The next track doesn’t hold any punches either, as “Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake” blasts off with a literal blast beat from drummer Alan Cassidy. Featuring the superb riffing of guitarist Brian Eschbach and latest addition Brandon Ellis, it’s a song that grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go until the last second.
“Matriarch” is where things start to get a little interesting as the band decide to have a little more of a focus on the technical side of riffing rather than melody. However, the unmistakable ‘TBDM groove’ shines throughout and keeps things nice and fresh. The title track then comes on and it’s rather unlike anything I’ve heard from the band before. Instead of a breakneck speed thrasher, it’s more of a mid-paced affair rich with riffs. It’s the sort of song that might go down well live as a headbangers’ number rather than a pit-inducing track.
The intensity returns again with “Jars” bringing a barrage of speed and intricate guitar melodies. If ever there was a TBDM song that would have the crowd shouting back, this is the one with the ‘group chants’ that pop up around the chorus. “Kings of the Nightworld” opens with a rather interesting guitar pattern before the main groove comes in and again showcases a more ‘mature’ side to the band. There’s still the trademark things that mean you instantly know it’s a TBDM song, but it feels a lot more polished.
“Catacomb Hecatomb” again changes things up a bit by having more of Trevor’s mid-range and lower register screams than his traditional higher pitched screams. Couple this with an exceptionally tasty guitar solo and you’ve got the recipe for a scrumptious slab of delicious melodeath. “As Good as Dead” expertly follows on from where the previous track ended with one of the most intense walls of sound that’s present on the album. Arguably one of my favourite tracks on the album, the track is a myriad of guitars, super speed drums and the never-relenting vocal attack of Strand.
Ending the album, the longest track I might add, “The Lonely Deceased” is a whole other level in comparison to the other tracks. Everything feels a lot more ‘epic’ and despite it being the longest track, it doesn’t feel like it at all. Everything that makes a classic TBDM song is present in this one and then some. It is quite honestly a masterpiece.
After having listened to it a few times now, it’s easy to see why the band broke the pre-order records with an album like this. Everything is just that bit more polished than the previous work and has that little extra bit of intensity. Every track on this album works and there’s none that can be considered ‘fillers’ or ‘songs that aren’t as good’.
For a band that has tracks in their repertoire like “Statutory Ape”, “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse” and “Necropolis”, you could almost argue that at some point the band might stagnate a bit. This is not the case with this album, though, and I’m sure that many songs from it will become permanent fixtures in the band’s live shows for many years to come.
Standout Tracks: Widowmaker, Matriarch, As Good As Dead, The Lonely Deceased
Nightbringers is out now