Review Summary: The Black Dahlia Murder pick up their game.
Most death metal and deathcore is designed to be an in-your-face, a shock to your senses. Over the years so much of that original 'scary' vibe is now gone, so many bands try to take it to excess. Be it with gory lyrics that go to the point of ridiculousness, or overcomplicated rhythm sections with confusing time signatures. A perfectly good song is ruined by throwing a dozen riffs a minute in an attempt to prove just how 'brutal' they are. Most bands could stand to improve by taking out a few of the riffs, reducing the ridiculous amount of soloing and try to break out of the excessively corny song titles. While The Black Dahlia Murder is not a band that may seem like they would move death metal, nor deathcore, forwards in any sense, Everblack
has truly set itself apart from some other death metal releases in recent times.
The Black Dahlia Murder (BDM) may have been around the scene for almost a decade now, but this new addition to the discography has placed them in fine form. The riffs here are able to shift tempo without it seeming like the music is inherently losing its intensity or form, and the solos are painfully sharp, again, not sacrificing their edge to seem overly technical. It seems ridiculous to praise even the tone, but it pulls that vibe of the record forwards from a simplistic one to a more advanced, complex sound. Being hit by this and the strengthened bass creates the guarantee that even the most aggrieved of listeners will find something to enjoy on this album. The intro to In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me
is a good example of this, with a slow crescendo with a clear presence of all the instrumental sections, with neat little lead lines sitting over the top of chugged rhythm guitar, and a thudding bass in the background, this introduction epitomizes everything that is good about this album.
As far as the lyrical content goes, The Black Dahlia Murder does not break down the walls of the genre, nor completely reinvent it and give it a kick when it's down. No, vocalist Trevor Strnad seems quite content to sit within his niche in the band, pushing out some reasonably powerful vocal lines such as " Raped in hatred by vines of thorn"
from the song of the same name. Unfortunately this relying on the niche seems to take away the vibe from many of the songs, which could have otherwise been far more enjoyable. While yes, it is a huge part of death metal and deathcore to sing about the more disturbing and less discussed (in other genres at least) topics, some of the lyrics do seem rather wasted and bland. One of the better samples of the lyrics from the song Goat of Depature
: less travelled is our path/laid darkly to the left/footprint of mendes emblazoning our armored breast/great bearded capra who towers oe’er the land/a tribute to your magnificence the feared sign of the horns shows on our hands"
. Some, if not a lot of the delivery on the vocals also ruins parts of the songs, if not for the range at the time. A lot of the lower end vocals are a lot more fitting than the mid to high ones. At the end of the previously mentioned song, the end of the song is completely destroyed by a badly delivered, mid ranged growl.
This may seem to be a killing factor on the album, after all, what is an album like this without its lyrics and vocals? The sad fact of the matter is that, for this release at least, most parts could have been benefitted by having vocals removed or at least altered to better fit the mood of the song. Blast beats and typical vocal styles do tend to wear thin after a period of time, which is considerably sad, as many of the instrumental parts are worn thin with some wasted vocal potential. However, while the vocals and lyrics are most definitely the low point of this album, they do contribute enough to make this album an extremely solid release.
For a band that released its first album 10 years ago, this is a good way to set the pace for the next ten years, with strong instrumentals and movements between songs, unfortunately brought down with some less-interesting vocals. If the following releases are in this vein, then the band will have made a good decision.