Review: The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers
It’s an odd year, and if the last decade and a half has set a trend, it means The Black Dahlia Murder have a new album out! Spoiler: es muy bueno.
Years ago, I used to play a game series you might be familiar with called Saints Row. It’s basically GTA but with little to no respect for physics or, you know, logic. The second of the games had a pretty good selection in terms of soundtrack, and one song that always stuck out to me was “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse”. Despite a large sector of the internet labelling them as “poser deathcore”, that track led me to discover The Black Dahlia Murder in all their goof-soaked, headbanging glory. The band has had an impressive streak of seven (mostly) no filler albums over the course of their career, and are now poised to unveil their eighth opus, Nightbringers, for the whole world to longingly gaze upon.
Maintaining a certain level of quality while sticking to a signature sound is no easy feat for any band (let alone for one with a back catalogue seven albums deep), but The Black Dahlia Murder have been nothing if not consistently great over every one of their albums. As a big fan of the band I could point out the subtle differences in overall tone between records, from the lighter, fun vibes of Ritual, to the darker overtones of Everblack. Even so, “varied” is not a word that I would usually use to describe the band’s sound, yet Nightbringers manages to evoke precisely this concept in my mind.
From the first riff in “Widowmaker” alone, I knew my neck was in deep peril. The ternary, conductor-waving melodeath goodness is in full effect by the time the vocals kick in, and although it changes paces, it’s a half hour of unrelenting power from here on out. Trevor Strnad‘s signature vocals cut through the full-spectrum guitar and drum attack, and are particularly remarkable when applied to the rapid-fire lyrics of banger “Matriarch”. The second half of the album holds the biggest surprises in the form of the almost neoclassical Arsis-esque “Kings of the Nightworld” and the mid-paced rock-y feel of “As Good as Dead”. The rhythmic trifecta of Brian Eschbach‘s guitars, Max Lavelle‘s bass and Alan Cassidy‘s drums has had time to gel and solidify after four years and change together, and it really shows here.
Structurally, the songs are mostly simple and concise. I think this is a good thing; there’s no need to stray from the 3-4 minute song template if you can get the point across and leave the listener wanting more, as opposed to packing a couple other songs on there and risk making things seem more repetitive. Nightbringers is the band’s shortest album yet, and honestly I’m more partial to this type of structuring from them anyway (think Nocturnal or Deflorate-type song lengths). I like their longer material as well (like Everblack and Ritual), but as we say in Spanish: “Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno” (which roughly translates to “look it up, jabroni”).
As a whole, Nightbringers is The Black Dahlia Murder’s most technical, melodic, concise and compositionally diverse release, which is really saying something for a band on their eighth full-length album. New blood in the form of axe-shredder Brandon Ellis seems to have injected the band with a sense of urgency, that translates into more complex riffs and catchier, interwoven multi-part guitar melodies. These nine songs showcase a band at the top of its game, and while it might not be my favorite album of theirs right out of the gate, it’s hard not seeing myself replaying it endlessly before the end of the year (and beyond). Nightbringers is an absolute must for any fan of riffy melodic death metal and, hell, I’m going to go out on a limb and throw in a rec for you melodic black metal people as well. I eagerly await your pompously-worded death threats while jamming some good ol’ Dahlia.
4.5 out ov 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Nightbringers drops its sweet sweet fire all over everyone this Friday, October 6th through Metal Blade Records. Pre-order the album here and tell me how nothing will ever surpass the band’s first demo. Also, check out Trevor’s triumphant return to TovH Radio on last week’s podcast.