The Black Dahlia Murder

Call me jaded, but after the far blacker presentation and delivery of 2007s impressive Nocturnal, I just wasn’t that excited for the bands fourth effort, especially after seeing the cover art and knowing longtime guitarist John Kempainen was out of the fold (even if replaced by ex-Arsis guitarist Ryan Knight). Something about Nocturnal seemed blacker and meaner, and it followed through, and something about Deflorate screams ‘formulaic’ and ‘laurel resting’, and it kinda follows through.

Don’t get me wrong, fans of the band will no doubt lap this up as it delivers everything that TBDM has cultivated since 2002s watershed Unhallowed; blistering,  Americanized At The Gates worship, rendered with super tight playing and truly admirable energy. But where Nocturnal seemed to have a more sinister and malevolent feel to it, Deflorate seems to be a bit more of a return to the more melodic and dare I say metalcore based sound of Unhallowed – something fans will no doubt love, but personally I thought TBDM had the potential to be something more than a slightly blackened melodic metalcore band.

That all being said, one could also construe that TBDM are victims of their own success, having their sound aped by countless acts (Inferi, Wretched, Salt the Wound, Mirror of Dead Faces to name a few), and that thusly contributes to the relative apathy I’m feeling towards Deflorate. And it’s a shame as Deflorate’s 33 minute run time truly bristles with ferocity and melodic vitriol, but at the same time, none of the tracks jumped out and made the album stand out. Where Nocturnal had “Darkness Divine” and “Warborn”, on Deflorate I’m hard pressed to pick out anything from the likes of “Black Valor”, “A Selection Unnatural”, “Death Panorama” and “That Which Erodes Most Tender”. With Shannon Lucas on autopilot for virtually the albums entire runtime, I’m not kidding when I say Deflorate feels like one, frantic, 33 minute melodic death metal song on meth. Closer “I Will Return” hints at something different, but only teases, fading out with a nice solo. While speaking of solos, Ryan Knight solos are there, but just don’t have the character or melody that Kempainen had.

I hope I don’t come across as too ‘down’ on Deflorate, as I’m sure I’ll give it future listens, and frankly you can’t fault TBDM for sticking with what works, and doing it with a energy and consistency that few bands can claim. I’m sure I’ll get lashing for saying this is a slight step back from Nocturnal, but I doubt it will affect record sales and the band will continue to see deserved success.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 15th, 2009


  1. Commented by: chris s.

    i have not heard this yet, but i think i will give it a try BUT c’mon, look at the sweet cover art, haha, back to the ’80s….. Love it.

  2. Commented by: AARONIUS

    This band seems to be the very definition of trying too hard.

    I read an interview where they were talking about how they practiced with a metronome and tried to play as fast as they could etc.

    Great, but anybody can play fast, the hard part is writing a song that someone can remember when it’s over.

    That’s my problem with 99.9% of the bands that are out there today. Everyone is trying to outdo each other and the music suffers because of it.

    I’ll stick with my Heartwork album thank you very much.

  3. Commented by: Staylow

    Love this album! Just as much as Nocturnal. I think this one sounds heavier, meaner, less core-ish and less melodic than it’s predecessors. Also, while John was definitely a top notch player, I think Ryan brings a little more to the fold, especially with those solos – yowza!

  4. Commented by: Sandwiches

    I’m pretty goddamn tired of this band being referred to as core in any way. IMO this is their best album by far. It has some of the most varied songs out of any of their previous releases and Ryan knight shreds all over this shit. John k can’t hold a candle to this guy. All of johns solos sounded exactly the same anyway. I know what a minor scale sounds like when you play it really fast, so I don’t really need to hear it all over three albums (unhallowed, miasma, nocturnal). Every new album has been a step up for these guys, but I’ll take deflorate over their entire catalog.

  5. Commented by: SerenityInFire

    I thought about buying one of their albums and then remembered that I already own Slaughter of the Soul.

  6. Commented by: Carlo Dela Cruz

    The production just sounds weird.

  7. Commented by: faust666

    while not as immediate as Nocturnal, Deflorate is yet another completely “non -core” and kickass death metal release from TBDM. The sheer brutality and denseness of this band is amazing. I agree with what Staylow and Sandwiches said.
    I also find people who say that they’ll stick to bands like Carcass, At The Gates etc rather foolish. I’m glad you enjoy the albums released over a decade ago(so do I) but benchmarking everything against it reeks of obsolescence.

  8. Commented by: krustster

    Lol I can’t believe you referred to this as metalcore. Come on now. Also I personally am liking this one better than Nocturnal, so far.

  9. Commented by: krustster

    not only that but what’s with all the ATG comparisons? Last I checked, At the Gates sounded nothing like this. Everyone is always “BLACK DAHLIA = ATG WORSHIP” but they’re really not that similar at all, other than that they can both be called melodic death metal.

    I agree with faust666

  10. Commented by: Ryan

    Their first album sounded like At the Gates, but they’ve departed further and further ever since. And god fucking damnit it pisses me off that this would be referred to as metalcore. There is zero “mosh” or any sort of core breakdowns. And Knight shreds the shit out any other lead this band has ever had. This band always had the chops and now they finally have the leads to back it up. Possibly their best effort. I really liked Nocturnal, but now with Knight adding all these leads, this may top it. I can’t even hardly listen to Unhallowed and Miasma anymore. Why bother, when I could listen to this and Nocturnal instead.

  11. Commented by: Jake

    The addition of Ryan Knight is a HUGE step for the band. Kempainen was a great player, but seemed to be stuck doing the same solo. Knight’s performance on here keeps me more engaged and interested than I have been in the past. Great album. Also, I have never agreed with the At The Gates worship thing. Not even close to one another.

  12. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Im glad to see such varied feedback on thsi review and album. I still feel Nocturnal is stronger and better, though this may grow on me. while metalcore may be a reach, i meant it as more of a reference to the bands own aped sound, thats seems driven more for commercial black metal for hot topic kids rather than actual ‘metalcore’. I dunno, maybe i was drunk when i wrote the review.

    Unhallowed was pure At the Gates worship I thought.

  13. Commented by: Ryan

    point noted, Erik. and yeah, Unhallowed was total At the Gates worship.

  14. Commented by: Desperado

    You have my sympathies Erik.Every time a big band gets an album reviews all the fans step out of the woodwork,and there is no pleasing them.I concur on the metalcore sound,and I hear plenty of ATG’s in even the new album.No biggie,its not all over the place,but its definitely there.And really,without that foundation,there wouldn’t be much of this breed of beast.

    I have the cd,but it has yet to grab me,but I’ve never been a major fan.Knight has some nice moments.

  15. Commented by: Demigod

    anyone that sais john k has more melody or feel than Knight in his solos is an idiot. John k played the same scale over and over in ever song and had no vibrato what so ever.

  16. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    I’m really liking what I’ve heard of this album. I’ve ordered it and will have it shortly.

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