The Black Dahlia Murder
Ritual

I’ve never really considered myself anything but a relatively casual fan of The Black Dahlia Murder, despite their rather large status in the realms of modern metal. With a sound that’s been cloned more times than Jenna Jameson has had cocks in her, their appeal loses even more luster as I blame them for the current state of lots of US metal acts nowadays.

Still, I rather enjoyed 2007’s Nocturnal as it showed a more blackened, leaner act, but 2009’s Deflorate, even with Arsis‘ Ryan Knight manning one of the guitars, seemed a bit of a step back for me. Frankly, I can say I’m feeling rather ambivalent about the band’s fifth album Ritual, and its campy “ritualistic’ press hype. Yet, I have to admit that Ritual is actually very, very good and might be the best release of the band’s entire career.

Returning to the more leaner, serious and blacker themes of Nocturnal, Ritual absolutely shreds with the expected tightness that the band has been known for. With an added sense of melody and varied, dynamic songwriting which includes a few of the best tracks the band has penned thus far, as well as a seemingly re-energized (and gruffer?) Trevor Strnad and Ryan Knight really finding his groove in the solo department, Ritual is actually–to emphasize what I said earlier–a great listen.

Opening with some black metal atmospherics, “A Shrine to Madness” is the album’s attention getting opener, where you can feel the band loosening up their melodic elements amid the terse, taught riffage especially in the song’s addictive chorus of sorts. The album’s first single “Moonlight Equilibrium” follows suite with a svelte solo and bridge. But unlike Deflorate or Miasma, the foot is taken off the throttle here and there, adding another element to the band’s already tight delivery. For example, “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood”,   “Malenchantments of the Necrosphere” and “Great Burning Nullifier”, the band delivers stern, largely mid-paced, controlled, militant death metal tracks with Strand even bellowing deeply for most of them.

Complete with a haunting piano close out and some stirring blackened synths/strings “Carbonized in Cruciform” and closer “Blood in the Ink”, like the opener, are some of the best, most epic tracks the band has penned. However, the track that most cements The Black Dahlia Murder, increased variety in songwriting is “Den of the Picuerist”  a 1 and ½  minute D-beat, crust punk beat down , rendered as only The Black Dahlia Murder can. Long time fans should fear not, there’s plenty of high octane, At The Gates on meth, slicing riffage on the likes of “Conspiring with the Damned” (even with its mid-song break), “The Window”, “The Raven” and “The Grave Robber’s Work”.

The Black Dahlia Murder have been much maligned over their career, but credit where credit is due: After five albums and plenty of line up shuffling, their hard work, tireless work ethic and undeniable energy has translated into an album they can truly be proud of and in an album that formerly jaded Black Dahlia haters should check out.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 28th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Vegard

    Great review. I agree that this is probably their best effort, and I’m a pretty “casual” fan myself.


  2. Commented by: Shockwave

    Indeed a great album. Agree on going back to Nocturnal, it’s the sound they do best.


  3. Commented by: xiweinx

    Many years ago, i reviewed ‘unhallowed’ for an online zine.
    I truly think it’s still their best effort.


  4. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    man, I didn’t even know these dudes were still around.


  5. Commented by: mccumberv

    Its easy to hate these guys, but I really can’t find a good reason, maybe its because the singer looks like the dude in the newer Free Credit Report commercials, you know that douche in the yellow leisure suit….anyways, I don’t think they deserve alot of the hate and this album is pretty damn solid from start to finish, I think the addition of Ryan Knight makes them alot better and at the same time made Arsis alot worse, haha!


  6. Commented by: noe,lvis txdm

    Den of the Picuerist, this got me off my seat, and really shows the amount of dedication these individuals have. the paths that are now forming before this band is directly related to each one’s love for the genre. my only quip on this is the production, seems like drum parts at times drown out interesting bass parts. i dunno, i still go back to the shiny parts of miasma,


  7. Commented by: Cynicgods

    “With a sound that’s been cloned more times than Jenna Jameson has had cocks in her…”

    Made me giggle like a schoolgirl for some reason. :P

    Boring third-rate At The Gates clone. No thanks.


  8. Commented by: Gibbo

    I’m probably a fanboy with this band but at least I’m honest. I personally believe that TBDM have out done themselves with every release and Ritual is no different. However, what makes it that much better I think is the mid-paced death metal tracks instead of a 40min blast fest. This album slays and is so bloody addictive! I have not stopped listening to it since it’s release. Fantastic artwork & lyrics too. Hopefully they’ll make it back to Oz again soon. Good review, cheers.


  9. Commented by: faust

    Great review, great band, competent, brutal but ultimately unmemorable and boring album.. Nocturnal was their finest hour.


  10. Commented by: Jesse Wolf

    Def a top contender for 2011 so far. The album is fantastically yummy.


  11. Commented by: vugelnox

    I’m with Cynny on these guys. Shoddy At The Gates / Dissection rip-off. This is even more boring and lifeless than Deflorate was


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