With five undeniably genre-defining albums now under their belt, it is easy to see why well-established melodic death metal outfit The Black Dahlia Murder deserve the buzz following the release of their sixth album Everblack. Their previous works, which include the likes of Nocturnal and The Ritual, are hailed as being some of the most inventive yet nostalgic contemporary death metal, drawing inspiration from the classics of the genre and melding it seamlessly into their own monstrously razor sharp sound.
It’s easy to see why these guys are so successful, what sat amongst a plethora of newer death metal and deathcore bands that crudely regurgitate and saturate their songs with predictable riffs, overly ostentatious rhythms, lengthy messily executed solos, and lyrical themes that conjure amusement rather than shock in their excessive gore. This is where The Black Dahlia Murder stand proudly above the majority. They have an uncanny ability to produce albums that showcase brutal, relentlessly heavy yet melodic metal, without it becoming tacky or tiresome, with Everblack being the perfect display of this.
Although TBDM don’t stray too far from their trademark sound they certainly bring something fresh to this album in the form of songs constructed with such pummeling beauty, in regard to both melody and structure, that you will be utterly engrossed from the onset. Not only this, but vocalist Trevor Strand’s delivery is better than ever, marrying his piercing screams seamlessly throughout with the unyielding riff-work from guitarists Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight for an incredibly cohesive and expressive listen. The inclusion of band newbies Max Lavelle (bass) and Alan Cassidy (drums), also seems to have injected an adrenaline boost into the rhythm section, with both members bringing fresh dynamics in the form of tastefully performed yet furious drum work and solid bass-lines, that underpin the guitars and play off each other ingeniously throughout. This is the sort of stuff that elevated The Black Dahlia Murder to the coveted position they hold now within the metal community, and they are still doing it absolutely brilliantly ten years on.
The album begins with a torrential downpour sample, which is quickly drowned into the background by sustained power chords and harmonised guitar licks interspersed with bullet speed drum fills until the first track, ‘In Hell is Where She Waits For Me’, kicks in with Trevor’s trademark snarl. This track and others such as ‘Raped in Hatred By Vines of Thorn’ and ‘Blood Mine’, showcase the band’s talent for composing furiously fast-paced harmonised riffing, capable of not only ripping your face off but then just as rapidly caressing it in a bandage of luscious melody, giving way to almost progressive metal inspired passages that bring further aural delight. For instance, the title track ‘Into The Everblack’ and ‘Phantom Limb Masturbation’ both feature such mosh inducing grooves and striking melodies that it’s hard not to love them on first listen, as well as the latter having one of the most impressive guitar solos I’ve ever heard in a death metal song.
A personal highlight on this album is the haunting ‘Every Rope a Noose’, featuring some insane blast-beat drumming, black metal inspired riffing, and an ominous aesthetic reminiscent of an Opeth or Emperor song in parts. As well as this, it’s incredibly catchy chorus melody will undoubtedly get stuck in your head for days. This song is probably the furthest Black Dahlia have strayed from their sound, yet they seem right at home with it and it’s why this song stands out for me.
Simply put, this is the best Black Dahlia Murder album to date; brimming with instantly memorable crushing riffs, pounding drums, tastefully virtuosic solos and discerningly nihilistic horror-inspired lyrical content, perfectly executed in gut-wrenching screams. While Everblack doesn’t exactly reinvent or forward the genre or the band’s sound, it certainly sets the bar immeasurably high for their peers. A must have for fans of the band and extreme music alike.