The Black Dahlia Murder // Everblack 
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — Defying Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™
Label: Metalblade
Websites: metalblade.com/bdm/ | facebook.com/theblackdahliamurderoffial
Release Dates: NA: 06.11.2013 | EU: 2013.06.10

The Black Dahlia Murder - EverblackThe Black Dahlia Murder were on a downward slope, succumbing to Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ with every step when Deflorate was released. The album was bordering on “nothing special,” and a record that probably didn’t make many End o’ Year Lists from that year or rank anywhere near Unhallowed or Nocturnal on lists of what TBDM‘s best record was. So, as fans of this blog know, Ritual‘s release was a gigantic step for The Black Dahlia Murder. It was an album that truly revolutionized the band’s sound, gave them a fresh start and blew my fucking mind. It should not be understated the seriously epic shift in feel and writing between Deflorate and Ritual, and the result is maybe one of the biggest swings for me in terms of excitement about a band’s forthcoming work that I can think of. A new TBDM record was becoming routine; Ritual proved that it was anything but.

But as I’ve said elsewhere, “a successful follow-up to a brilliant record is often more difficult than writing the brilliant record in the first place.” This is most certainly true for The Black Dahlia Murder who admittedly are well-aware of the pressure following what was a truly Homeric album in Ritual, while keeping in mind that their sound is their sound, and that they need to balance the desire for something new with their entrenched fanbase. And we all know how entrenched fanbases are (hint: cranky and conservative; see: Steel Druhm).

Everblack should disappoint no one. In fact, I would argue that it should thrill new and longtime fans alike with its brutal display of melodic, blasty At the Gates influenced riffing. Tracks like opener “In Hell Is Where She Waits for Me,” “Raped in Hatred by Vines of Thorn,” “Blood Mine,” and “Their Beloved Absentee,” push out the melodic, harmonized riffs at bullet speed. This is the stuff that put The Black Dahlia Murder on the map and it’s the stuff that they still do brilliantly. The pre-chorus on “Their Beloved Absentee” memorably gives way to a blasty, trem-picked chorus that pushes me back to Unhallowed and Miasma and the records that made me a lifelong fan of the band.

But unlike the records following TBDM‘s early success, Everblack doesn’t just push out the same blast-laden melodeath covered in Trevor Strnad’s [Sturnad it’s pronounced apparently] characteristically dynamic vocal retchings. Instead, following in Ritual‘s footsteps, this album contains weird, grindy and almost ‘progressive’ tracks from time to time, that call up non-Swedish death metal. Tracks like “Into the Everblack,” shows off this halting, weird, but groovy approach, while “Phantom Limb Masturbation” should push crowds everywhere into brutal mosh pits. The only track on here that I even consider a ‘miss’ is “Every Rope a Noose,” largely because the verse ‘riff’ isn’t really a riff, and it’s probably more akin to Emperor than anything the band has done hence.

TBDM Windface by Casey Carlton

At 45 minutes and 10 tracks, the songs in Everblack are longer than Ritual before it, and that puts it in good company. The Black Dahlia Murder is currently producing the best material of their career on albums five and six, and that’s saying something. Everblack also seriously benefits from the addition of Ryan Knight who is easily the most underrated guitarist in heavy metal right now. The guitar solos on this record are not as divinely inspired as they were on Ritual, but they are still out of this world. I especially recommend checking out the final track “Map of Scars” where the solo is straight up Yngwie worship; but every solo on this record is worth stopping and taking a listen to. New drummer Alan Cassidy also kicks a lot of ass here on the 23 year-old’s debut. While the drums here aren’t as beefy sounding as the kegs on Ritual, the drums here work great and fill Shannon Lucas’ shoes admirably.

Everblack is a great record in its own right, but it will long live in the shadow of Ritual which was a brilliant one. Still, that’s no knock on Everblack ’cause it’s still among the best I’ve heard this year. Hopefully these Michiganders will keep defying gravity. I look forward to seeing them on tour and hearing how they top this in 2015.

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  • Rik

    A downward slope before Ritual? U mad? Nocturnal is widely regarded as their best I think, it’s certainly my favourite, and I didn’t think Deflorate was much worse. Honestly Ritual took some time for me to get into.

    • Nah, man. Deflorate and Nocturnal both were pretty “meh” in my book. I know people love Nocturnal, but I’m not one to agree. I think that Unhallowed and Miasma were both great and I love Ritual and am a big fan of this one.

      • CockerDaniel

        imo their even numbered releases were not quite as good as the odd numbered ones, but this totally changed that. I feel that after a few more listens this will be my second favorite TBDM record behind Ritual.

  • RilesBell

    Nice review! I agree that this doesn’t top Ritual but is still really solid. These guys are one of the most consistent bands in metal right now. And they release stuff every two years, like clockwork! Nocturnal is their best IMO.

    • I like Nocturnal, but I still think Miasma and Unhallowed were their best until Ritual hit. I think Ritual is their crowning glory, but this new record ain’t slouch material. ;)

  • Solbrave

    I found Deflorate by far the worst in their discog, and until Ritual, Nocturnal their best. Miasma was really dark and depressing, and probably one of my favorites although it wasn’t as good as Unhallowed.

    I like this better than Ritual though. Not by a lot, but just a little.

  • The Hutch 23

    This album is a pleasant surprise. These guys are typically a band I’m relatively indifferent to, but this album is something else.

    • Cary Hutchison

      Curse you, Disqus. Get my name right.

  • _brendan_

    Great review, I agree with pretty much everything except this… “The guitar solos on this record are not as divinely inspired as they were on Ritual”. I loved the solos on Ritual too, they were awesome but the solos on everblack smoke the Ritual solos…. for me anyway, more diverse and way more creative.

    • David Rosales

      Exactly what I think.

  • Phil Daly

    I’ve somehow managed to never really pay these guys much attention, although not sure why, as on first listen to this and Ritual, I’m absolutely loving it. The screams sound believable and angry rather than the usual contrived “scream goes here” garbage so much modern metal suffers from. Vocal mixture actually reminds me a lot of the Walker/Steer combo circa Necroticism. In fact, the whole thing has a sort of “Necroticism, but faster” feel to it. Mark these guys and Revocation down as two bands I took an age to “get”.

  • This is a band I didn’t like at all until Ritual. Sounds like I will enjoy this one too.

  • David Rosales

    I like this more than Ritual. I only found about three songs in Ritual having their own character. My favorite one being On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood where the music actually somewhat conveys the lyrical content (and the solo is outstanding) and the last track of the album, Blood in the Ink, which stands out mostly because of the KB and its cool solo. Other than that, I found Everblack more creative than Ritual.

  • contagioned

    deflorate had “i will return,” so it’s already at the very least a decent album in my eyes

  • Really enjoying this one thus far into my first listen. Miasma will always be my favorite, but so far the only album I’m not too fond of is Deflorate. A good effort really, but just lacked identity in my opinion. Great band, can’t wait for the next one.