Review Summary: Nocturnal takes everything that makes The Black Dahlia Murder unique and interesting and multiplies it by four. Even if everything sounds similar, it is good enough to warrant more than it's fair share of attention. Solid album.
A band's third album can be a difficult one. Their first may have been the one that garnered them all that lovely attention and positive acclaim. Then, their sophomore effort may have been the slump that many had predicted - or maybe it would have signaled a move away from their roots, causing the inevitable label of 'sell-out' to come about. Luckily for The Black Dahlia Murder, neither of these scenarios need apply. Both their debut and sophomore albums were very good, displaying their signature blend of frenetic melodic death metal aptly well. Nocturnal certainly is a worthy addition to the band's discography, even if it doesn't seemingly do anything to steer them into any new progressions.
Not to say the band have regressed however. And it would also be a lie to say that they have remained completely stagnant. What has to be said is that all the trademarks of the band are here in full force; Trevor Strnad's schizophrenic vocal style is as prominent as ever, with his banshee-esque howling and shrieking almost blood curdling this time around. His lows have also improved, sounding more guttural under the better production. The fast breakneck speed of the band is also evident in pretty much all ten of the tracks on offer here; new drummer Shannon Lucas is more than capable of pulling off all the double bass, blastbeats and quick fills and rolls that made their previous outings enjoyable from a drumming perspective. The guitar riffs are quick and melodic when they need to be and heavy, chugging and menacing at other times. Where there would be some form of breakdown (say in a song like A Vulgar Picture), on Nocturnal, things just got a whole lot faster. In general, what can be said about the album is that the tempo has definitely been upped as a whole. In my opinion, this is a good thing, as the band function well at these high speeds.
I Worship Only What I Bleed also gives a small insight into some clearly audible bass. Which is nice for once. The breaks are only small and the instrumentation is relatively simplistic but it is a step forward (especially when almost all new American metal bands decide to mix out all bass from their recording). However, with all that has been said already about the album, a whole lot more has to come it, with the latter parts being mostly negative. Trevor's vocal style is bound to get on a lot of people's tits after a while; he is a competent vocalist and that cannot be taken away from him, but his high shrieking in particular can become overwhelming at times as it does bleed the ears after a while. Another negative is that songs don't really do anything to help them stand out from the pack. I see Nocturnal as a set of ten songs by The Black Dahlia Murder, whereas when I think of Unhallowed I'd say that Funeral Thirst sticks out. That's not to say Nocturnal doesn't have it's highlights. What I am saying is that you'll probably have to listen through the album a few times before they begin to show through.
Guitar solos are usually something that helps to add an extra dimension to a band's sound. Heck, some band's even rely on solos a bit too much I feel (Children of Bodom, I'm looking in your direction). But when The Black Dahlia Murder do a solo, it feels like the solo that was on the track just before it. They all sound the same; the minor arpeggios, quick runs and eerie passages that help make it into a more morbid listening experience perhaps. For me, the solo on Funeral Thirst back on Unhallowed was perfect, mostly because it was memorable as well melodic and technically proficient. But of all the solos on Nocturnal (and there are plenty of them throughout), none of them will particularly stick in your mind. The same goes for the riffs, yet this is slightly less of a negative point. All the riffs are good, it is just that the band choose to write every riff in a similar style. Which leaves you wondering what's what in each song. That said, songs like Of Darkness Spawned and the title track bear witness to some juicy guitar moments in the riff department.
Overall, whilst the band haven't really progressed in their sound, they've capitalized on what they do well and made ten songs worthy to be placed on the record. Nocturnal is a solid effort from a band that have realized their trademarks well and put them to good use. Buy it just because of Strnad's vocal performance - he truly does sound ever so manic and spits outs more syllables and complex lyrical lines than you could shake a stick at.
Recommended Tracks Everything Went Black Nocturnal Deathmask Divine
Nice review, though I disagree that Miasma was even close to Unhallowed. I thought their second album was horribly uninspired, and it sounds as though this third one may be more of the same, but I'll still have to check it out.
Did you ever notice how similar their style is to At the Gates? listen to Unhallowed and Slaughter of the Soul back to back and only the vocals seem to set the two apart.
I agree, Miasma was very poor. This is kind of in the middle of things, although closer to Unhallowed I would say. Still the songs on here are suprisingly unmemorable. Also if I hadn't seen the rating on your review, I wouldn't have read this as a 4 either.
For now I'm liking Arch Enemy's new album much more.This Message Edited On 09.22.07
Good review, I'm kind of bummed to hear all of their solos still sound the same like they did on Miasma. [quote=review]causing the inevitable label of 'sell-out' to come about.[/quote] I'm still perplexed as to how a death metal band can sell out and almost always laugh when people say that.
Not trying to doubt that it is but how would a death metal band sell out? Go metalcore? I'm honestly not trying to sound like a know it all (cause when it comes to death metal I'm quite the opposite) but could you give an example?
"What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse", also the name of there first ep, is an awesome song. Overall I really like this album top to bottom. Good Review, though I like Miasma just as much as UnhollowedThis Message Edited On 09.22.07