Review Summary: An excellent successor to blockbuster "Deflorate" proves that The Black Dahlia Murder has found a group-effort formula to work with and is using it to its highest potential.
Death metal giants The Black Dahlia Murder
have slaughtered their way through the rank and file with their past albums, the most notable of which being 2009's Deflorate
and 2007's Nocturnal
, and Ritual
is no exception. Members of The Black Dahlia Murder have proven once again that they are head-and-shoulders above their competition and that they can stand beside the biggest names in the death metal biz.
If you're into death metal, but find something holding you back from obtaining Ritual
- a problem I'd normally suggest solving by applying blunt-force head trauma via a frying pan - take into account that it's the band's fifth studio album, running for a decent time of forty-six minutes, and that the band has been able to focus all of their efforts and skills to produce this high-quality masterpiece of music. Ritual
takes listeners on a journey they're not likely to forget. This record is an evolution of the band's sound in every aspect, from vocals to atmosphere.
The record's opening track, "A Shrine to Madness", begins with a soothing violin piece that leads into the controlled madness that is The Black Dahlia Murder. The first thing that struck me upon hearing the vocals for this song is that they reminded me of Jonny Davy, Job for a Cowboy
's vocalist (although there is an obvious difference in audio editing between the two bands' vocals). As Trevor poured his black soul into the song, I easily caught the old Black Dahlia vibe through a myriad of riffs, shrieks, and a solo here and there, but it was obvious that something had changed. The sound seemed to come together in a way almost foreign to me - not necessarily good or bad, but merely different - and this is the major change fans of the band should recognise upon listening to this record. "Moonlight Equilibrium", the follow-up track, is the abode to many an epic guitar riff, and lightly-edited shrieks punctuate each frame of the song, making it easily one of the most memorable songs off of the album.
"Carbonized in Cruciform" and "Blood in the Ink" are by far the most ambitious tracks off of Ritual
, though, and not merely because they have added atmospheric beginnings to them. They take shots at the normal Black Dahlia formula, but instead of conflicting with their existing sound, you get a whole new thing that's all kinds of epic. "Den of the Picquerist" is the album's shortened track, going in line with Deflorate
's "Death Panorama" and Nocturnal
's "I Worship Only What You Bleed". I wasn't a big fan of these shorter tracks in the past, as I always felt it conflicted with the rest of the album's sound, but "Den" fits this time around. "Great Burning Nullifier" lends well to the end of the album, while the aforementioned "Blood in the Ink" is a very satisfying closer, housing multiple solos for your enjoyment.
The Black Dahlia Murder has certainly evolved, but make no mistake - it's still the same band. You'll find reminders of Deflorate
and the rest of the older records within the twelve tracks of Ritual
, but the new content and sound they've allowed us to delve into really shows the band's dedication to make great metal music. Any fan of death, or even thrash metal, and certainly any fan of the band itself, will find this record to be easily one of the best releases of 2011.
To finish, I'll toss in a passage from the ending of "Blood in the Ink".
"Suicide is the only way out."
1.) "A Shrine to Madness"
2.) "Moonlight Equilibrium"
3.) "Carbonized in Cruciform"
4.) "Great Burning Nullifier"
5.) "Blood in the Ink"