The Black Dahlia Murder
Nightbringers

Although The Black Dahlia Murder have often had a tendency to divide listeners, those who have kept the faith and followed the band over their decade plus career have been duly rewarded by some killer albums and a consistent track record.  The band’s tireless work ethic and expert refinement of their thrashy melodic death formula has sporadically captivated my interest and I’m always eager to hear what the band delivers with each album. However, I also tend to be rather picky and selective with The Black Dahlia’s Murder, with only a select handful of their albums, led by the excellent Nocturnal and Everblack, demanding regular rotations. 2015’s Abysmal was a solid album in the short term but I’ve rarely had the urge to revisit the album since the initial adrenaline rush wore off. So I approached their eighth LP with mixed feelings of cautious optimism and trepidation.

Nightbringers wastes little time cutting to the chase and demanding attention. An ominous atmospheric intro eventually unfurls into the guts of the powerhouse “Widowmaker.” It’s a brutally refined and feisty ripper showcasing the band’s typical energy and precision chops within their signature thrashy melo-death context. Boasting a rugged central groove and terrific soloing, the title track finds the band in a more restrained mood, ramping-up the heaviness but reducing the speed, as insidious melodies and increased heft takes hold. However, it’s the tearaway, speed-laced numbers that showcase The Black Dahlia Murder at their vicious best, without sacrificing smart dynamics and well crafted structures. The mid-album stretch is particularly strong and memorable, with the raging intensity of “Jars,” blackened gallop and terrific hooks of “Kings of the Nightworld,” and mighty death metal crush of “Catacomb Hecatomb” forming one hell of a back-to-back trio.

The loss of gifted guitarist Ryan Knight would have hurt many bands and while admittedly in the solo department Knight’s uniqueness and creativity is missed, otherwise The Black Dahlia Murder rebound without missing a beat. By employing the impressive skills of new addition Brandon Ellis (Arsis, Cannabis Corpse) The Black Dahlia Murder keep on trucking and sticking to their established formula. Ellis brings whiffs of Arsis into the fold and fills the void admirably with his top notch playing and impressive shred. His combination with long-time axeman Brian Eschbach is critical to the album’s success, the duo ripping out piercing riff after riff embedded with razor sharp hooks, while the fiery leads drip with malice and a charred melodic sensibility.

Wisely The Black Dahlia Murder condenses their livewire attack into a tight 33-minute blast that ensures there’s no unnecessary filler or fatty off-cuts. The at times frantic pacing and efficiency of the album are clear strengths, making for a tight, consistent and often exhilarating ride. Abysmal was guilty of fading from the memory bank far too quickly. In comparison, the songs on Nightbringers leave a deeper impression, perfecting the balance of speed, ferocity, whip smart dynamics, and penetrating hooks. Technically speaking, Nightbringers is a beast, with each band member operating at the top of their game amidst an abundance of guitar fireworks, slick blackened melodies, and unrelenting drum battery. Trevor Strnad’s dual screams and growls are typically strong and Alan Cassidy’s varied, blasting percussion solidifies his status as one of extreme metal’s most underrated drummers. Meanwhile the production on Nightbringers is solid through and through, balancing heft with refined sharp tones and overall clarity.

Nightbringers is a top shelf album and one of 2017’s standout melo-death releases, earning a place in the upper tier of The Black Dahlia Murder’s repertoire. It’s an accomplished album that’s both a significant step-up from Abysmal and a great addition to the band’s impressive body of work.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
October 9th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jay

    I make no bones about having a soft spot for these guys, despite the fact that some of my more “discerning” friends turn their snoots up at TBDM. That old EP and Unhallowed won me over and I’ve stuck around since.

    Of everything that’s followed Deflorate, Nocturnal and Everblack are fantastic…by far my favorites. I didn’t like Miasma at all. It felt like a huge letdown at the time but they picked themselves up quickly. Ritual didn’t do much for me, though Abysmal has suddenly turned into a huge grower late last year for me.

    I’m liking what I’ve heard of this one so far and will pick it up when I can. Kick ass review, Luke!


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