Review Summary: The Black Dahlia Murder serve you a heaping dish of meaty metal goodness...that you've been served five times before.
When it comes to quality consistency in metal, Michigan metal crew The Black Dahlia Murder is one band that’s always been worth paying attention to, even worth buying in to. Over the course of six albums, the band has refused to compromise on their signature and unmistakable brand of melodious death metal, producing music where its purpose and conviction is undeniable. On their most recent album, Everblack, BDM sounds tighter and more focused than ever before doing what they have proven to be most adept a doing. Unfortunately, “doing what they’re most adept at doing” also entails the total avoidance of throwing any surprises at the listener.
Everything that has made BDM such a worthwhile band up to this point is present and in its proper place, and some aspects of the band’s sound have even been improved upon. The band has achieved a higher level of technicality and precision in the performing of these ten tracks, and this isn’t to say that their previous efforts lacked this quality, because they have always brought the heat in this regard. The Black Dahlia Murder succeeds at being keen and technically accomplished musicians who don’t place their skills at the top of their list of priorities. Their songs come first, and the band can certainly write one hell of a catchy metal song, and on this album, it acts as their saving grace. Guitarist Ryan Knight’s soloing technique is surprisingly atypical for this style and shows off some much appreciated personality, something that not every tech-head shredder has in conjunction with their technical proficiency. On the topic of musicians, there has been a couple of lineup shifts on this record worth noting. While powerhouse drummer Shannon Lucas is missed, his replacement Alan Cassidy does an excellent job filling in his shoes, and we can’t forget mainstay vocalist Trevor Strnad whose shrieks are as wretched and piercing as ever before. The musicianship on this album shows the Black Dahlia at their highest point yet, but the path they walk and the pace at which they do it is all too familiar.
Musically, this album features everything you’ve already heard from Black Dahlia on their last several albums (meaning all of them.) The melodic style, song structures, drum fills and vocals are all placed in the same positions that they’ve been since Nocturnal at least, but despite all of that, the material on Everblack is some of their strongest. “In Hell is Where She Waits for Me” is an appropriately pummeling and intense opener which sets the tone for the rest of the album quite nicely. “Raped in Hatred by Vines of Thorn” is one of the band’s finest songs almost on par with classics like “Deathmask Devine” ( as well as one seriously evil song title), and “Every Rope a Noose” contains some of the album’s only surprises with its dulcimer outro and tasty black metal riff thrown in the middle. The entire middle section of “Phantom Limb Masturbation” takes you on a ride that twists and turns through a dark forest of metal, and the solo on the closing track “Map of Scars” has Ryan Knight throwing in a neo-classical flourish for fun. Unfortunately, that’s one of the only scraps of fun to be found amongst all of these tracks. While the material on this album is, again, very strong, the music here doesn’t come across nearly as exciting, fun, or spontaneous as it did on previous albums in their discography. They sound like they’re in a comfortable spot, and this unfortunately weakens the album a tad.
Good songs, but very little surprises, that just about sums up Everblack. Was there anything about this album that could be seen as terrible or even a little lackluster? Not at all. But was there anything about this album that made this reviewer throw his horns up in the air and headbang with impunity? I’ll say no to that as well. It simply wasn’t that exciting of an album from a band that has proven in the past to be full of fun and excitement, and, speaking for myself, I doubt I’ll be returning to it very often when I have an album like Nocturnal I could be listening to. This is, sadly, more of the same from BDM, but given how commendable the songs are overall, one can’t complain about it all that much.