Despite their proven ability to shift loads of albums and headline tours from their lofty position at the forefront of the modern metal scene, Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder continue to divide the broader metal community. To their credit the band doesn’t give a shit about detractors writing them off as a second rate At the Gates clone. Frankly I’ve never felt that strongly about the band either way. I’ve found them to be a rather over-hyped yet competent band, with material that is consistently solid with flashes of brilliance. Although for whatever reason I didn’t spend any considerable time with their 2011 release Rituals, on this latest platter The Black Dahlia Murder sound particularly revitalized and focused.
Everblack, their 6th full length album, finds The Black Dahlia Murder hell-bent on delivering their trademark brand of thrashy melodic death, keeping things fresh without bringing anything new to the table. And the resulting album has recharged my interest in the band and is quite possibly one of the strongest albums of their career. The song-writing is catchy and varied enough to largely steer clear of the monotonous and derivative aspects of the band’s well-worn formula. They are still at their best in full throttle mode, and when they shake off the bouncier melodic aspects of their sound and lead with focused aggression, they sound all the more exciting. As expected the musicianship is outstanding, especially the work of lead guitarist Ryan Knight, while Strnad’s dual vocals are typically strong. And it’s testament to the band’s drive and prolific output that they have managed to pump out six full length albums in the space of a decade despite a multitude of line-up changes along the way. Line-up turbulence aside, The Black Dahlia Murder sound as tight as ever, ripping through the 10 tunes with vigorous intent and a palpable surge of energy.
Mainstays Trevor Strnad (vocals) and Brian Eschbach (rhythm guitar) continue to surround themselves with quality musicians and Everblack brings a new rhythm section in tow. Max Lavelle (bass) and Alan Cassidy (drums) are the new dudes on board and nothing sounds amiss. Although the bass doesn’t get much of a look-in, Cassidy’s drumming is top notch and perfectly synced with the band’s speedy delivery. The album’s darker vibe and blackened tone shares similarities with their Nocturnal album, and Ryan Knight sounds right at home on his third outing with the band. His intricate, fluid guitar solos embellish the album with a touch of class. On the whole, Everblack features some of the fastest, most aggressive material the band has penned.
Sporting a sharp, clean production job, Everblack sounds slick yet not overproduced, although the lack of any serious low end creates an unnecessarily thin recording. Wordy opener “In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me” builds for over a minute before kicking into gear with an electrifying thrashy tempo, some wicked mid-tempo groove and a sublime solo from Knight. The blistering attack of “Goat of Departure” is tempered by smart time changes and taut groove amidst a flurry of blast beats and charred melody. Pushing aside the over-the-top black metal-isms of its title, the briskly paced “Raped In Hatred By Vines Of Thorn” is an otherwise strong track with a catchy chorus and deft solo punctuating a fairly predictable structure. A couple of solid by-the-numbers songs crop up mid-album before the dynamic, meaty grooves and pure aggression of “Blood Mine” and prickly, blackened melodeath of “Every Rope A Noose” brings the album back to the stronger end of the song-writing spectrum. The thorny melodies and brutish black/death leanings of closer “Map of Scars” finishes the album’s clinical bloodletting in style.
With the sizzling aftertaste of the latest Arsis album still fresh on the palate, this new effort from The Black Dahlia Murder doesn’t quite resonate as strongly. Nevertheless it’s slightly different, albeit familiar approach to melodic death metal gives the often tired trappings of the scene another kick in the teeth. Everblack’s energized song-writing and aggressive delivery finds The Black Dahlia Murder sounding leaner, meaner and more exciting than they have in a long time.[Visit the band's website]