The Black Dahlia Murder
Verminous

I vaguely recall interviewing The Black Dahlia Murder, back around the release of 2003s Miasma. Young bright eyed young men, with the world ahead of them, having fun and the metal world at their feet as the darlings of American metal. Well, the faces have changed significantly since then, as guitarist Brian Eschbach and vocalist Trevor Strnad are the only remaining members from that era. The the bright eyed, youthful vigor has remained for 9 albums now as the The Black Dahlia Murder keep on trucking and keep on Black Dahlia …..Murder-ing?

As I’ve said in prior reviews, I’m a relatively casual TBDM fan, I’ve enjoyed all their releases, but never really thought of any of their albums as year end contenders or stuff I go back to regularly to relisten to past review purposes. Even with some of the bands ‘blacker’ efforts I liked more in Ritual, Everblack and Nocturnal, I never really ‘loved’ or craved the band’s outputs, and that trend continues with album number 9, the much hyped Verminous. A really good TBDM album, but yet another album I will have forgotten in 6 weeks.

Admittedly, the addition of Arsis’s Brandon Smith on guitars for the last album, Nightbringers, gave the band a nice little injection or pure melo-death. And that has continued with Verminous, with more taught, hack ‘n’ slash riffery that imbues a beefed up,  Americanized At The Gates more feral, slicing material, and less Dissection, like some of the bands aforementioned, previous ‘blacker; efforts. And it’s all superbly delivered and energetically played, with high octane razor sharp riffs galore.

Opening with  the manic gallop of “Verminous”, like its predecessor, the album is short sharp affair, clocking in at 35 minutes (Nightbringers was a svelte 33 minutes) and there is little fat. Only 48 second interlude “A Womb in Dark Chrysalis” takes a break from the band’s breakneck pacing and trademark dual guitar slicing assault. Initial listens had me perk up at tracks like “Godlessly”, the blistering “Child of Night” and closing standout “Dawn of Rats”, arguably the band’s best and most melodic track in some time, and a rare TBDM track I actually recall later.

Interestingly,  the pedal is eased up a bit for about half  of the album with more ‘mature’ or ‘developed’ tracks like “Removal of the Oaken Stake” and mid album stretch of  “Sunless Empire”, “The Leather Apron’s Scorn”,  “How Very Dead” and fast/slow blended track “The Wereworm’s Feast”. But it’s the aforementioned rippers that make the album stand toe to toe with the band’s previous offerings and lets be honest, why we listen to these guys in the first place.

Verminous does see a change in the mix /master, aiding Brandon Smith’s recording, now we have the super duo of Tue Madsen and Alan Douches, but to be honest, other than a slightly bigger bottom end (more discernible of those slower controlled tracks) ,  casual listeners wouldn’t be able to tell, it sounds like a TBDM record; tight , pristine and razor sharp as fuck.

And therein lies the ‘problem’ ( if you can call it that) with Verminous, and the last decade’s TBDM releases in general. If you were you put Verminous and the last 2 or 3 albums on shuffle (any maybe the band’s whole catalog), you’d be hard pressed to name the album the songs came from or even the album. But you could say the same thing about say.. Cannibal Corpse, so it’s both a boon and a burden being this predicatively, consistently solid sounding (and mimicked!) after 17 years.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 27th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    I agree, unfortunately. I pre-ordered the CD with a hoodie because I love the art, but overall, it just sounds like TBDM. It’s not a bad thing, but I’ve heard it before.


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