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The Black Dahlia Murder - Nightbringers Award winner

The Black Dahlia Murder
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 06 October 2017, 11:33 AM

As far as death metal goes, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER is one of the most underrated bands I can think of.  The reason for this boils down to Metalheads and their leanings towards what or what isn’t part of a certain sub-genre.  I know, it is okay. I do it too. Their first released, “Unhallowed,” was definitely learning towards melodic death metal.  Death Metal fans felt they were not “brutal” enough and thought they were the second coming of AT THE GATES, so close was their melodic edge.  However, the band, over the years, has morphed into a full-fledged Death Metal band, albeit with melodic tendencies.  Unfortunately, the band also came into prominence when Metalcore did as well. As such, they were lumped into that subgenre as well, which is another reason why I think so many extreme metal fans ignore them.  They might not be as underground as “insert name of random basement death metal band with two fans here,” but make no mistake:  THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER is as uncompromising, heavy, energetic, and brutal as anyone else in modern Death Metal.

The pacing of the album and the placement of the tracks is just perfect.  Although not a concept album, the nine tracks are right where they need to be and the whole piece flows very well from one track to the next.  At just 33:16 minutes in length, the album is the exact length it needs to be for this style. Despite my love for the band, I always felt like they still hadn’t made that “one” album that every band has; the album for which all their previous releases are judged against.  It is safe to say that “Nightbringers,” is THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER’s benchmark album and a modern classic in Death Metal.  Just because an album gets a 10 doesn’t always mean it is a masterpiece—but make no mistake….that is exactly what these 10’s mean for this review.  The most noticeable aspect of the album is the top tier production.  Every instrument can be heard individually but nothing is too far in front or too far behind.  “Nightbringers,” is an album that sounds truly immense and bottomless. Death Metal isn’t always known for its originality but, quite simply, no one sounds like TBDM. This is no small part due to the insane vocal delivery of Trevor Strnad.  When I first discovered them, I thought they have two vocalist, such is the furious assault of this front man.  I’m happy to say that not much as changed since then—he still delivers deep growls and incredible screams so fast, so quickly, that it seems almost impossible he can do this.

The atmosphere of the album really conjures images of things that go bump in the night; horrors that wait just beyond your line of sight to strike at the last minute.  After a brief but appropriately creepy intro that’s built into the track, “Windowmaker,” explodes with furious riffs, a tight rhythm section of bass and drums, and Trevor’s howl.  Within seconds his voice explodes onto the track, going a mile a minute as if he can do this in his sleep.  Hell, he probably can at this point.  But despite being eight albums into their career, he still sounds fresh and energetic; his heart is definitely still in it.  In a world where Metal vocalists often dumb down their voice or try to sing like boy bands, his vision of uncompromising Metal really is a boon. In addition to his vocals, he is also one of a kind at writing lyrics.  Despite popular belief, a lot of Death Metal bands do have great lyrics but Trevor is near poet level, such is his ability to turn macabre lyrics into a story. The guitars have greatly improved, especially with the lead guitar and the solos.  “Widowmaker’s,” solo rides the line between flashy and melodic, with just enough melody not go overboard into technical territory.

Matriarch,” sees the vocals riding atop the crushing waves of guitar riffs; the whole band compliments each other, everyone weaving in and out with their instruments while still staying together as a team.  The rhythm during and after the guitar solo is a mid-paced dirge of creepy heaviness before going back into jumpy riffs that reach their apex as the song ends.  Brian Eschbach and Brandon Ellis are a duo who play off each other and within the dynamics of their musical partnership. “Kings of the Nightworld,” is quite possibly the catchiest Death Metal song I’ve heard. The lead guitar propels back to the riffs that in turn push the song directly into the chorus where the melody and brutality meet as one while Trevor screams his ass off. The end of the album is even stronger than the beginning because the last two tracks are two of the best songs the band has pulled out of their blackened hat.  “As Good As Dead,” echoes the best of death metal, with its non-stop speed, uncompromising drumming, and a searing guitar solo.  Meanwhile, “The Lonely Deceased,” features a melodic, clean guitar interlude that is beautiful in its sickened sorrow, coming off as the unofficial sister of “The Infernal Depths of Hatred” era ANATA.

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER’s “Nightbringers,” is the musical equivalent of perseverance, blood, sweat and tears wrapped up in a rotted corpse at the bottom of a boggy grave.  An instant classic for long time fans and the best place to enter for newcomers.  If the band keeps making albums like this, they will find themselves becoming future legends alongside the bands that inspired them.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Widowmaker
2. Of God and Serpent, of Spectre and Snake
3. Matriarch
4. Nightbringers
5. Jars
6. Kings of the Nightworld
7. Catacomb Hecatomb
8. As Good as Dead
9. The Lonely Deceased
Brian Eschbach – Guitars
Trevor Strnad – Vocals
Max Lavelle – Bass
Alan Cassidy – Drums
Brandon Ellis – Guitars
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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