Yer Metal Is Olde is a recurring thing that we’re using to fill up space while we whip our new reviewers for reviews of new the material that we assigned them, but they can’t seem to figure out how to turn in on time. The idea was spurred on by the swath of amazing and classic records that are turning 10, 20, or 30 this year. It’s crazy to think that all the stuff that we worship is really as old as it is. Time moves quickly, but these classics never seem to lose their shine. Still, their enduring quality doesn’t change that your favorite metal is fucking old.

TBDM - MiasmaDon’t think that writing a Yer Metal Is Olde about The Black Dahlia Murder‘s sophomore record doesn’t strike me as a little weird. Rarely has a YMIO candidate been so universally ignored as this one. If you were to ask fans of the band, I suspect that Unhallowed, the band’s epic debut, or Nocturnal the band’s third record are the albums that we should be celebrating. But I disagree. While Unhallowed is certainly a great record, I actually think that TBDM began showing their true colors on Miasma—and I still think it’s a better than Nocturnal all these years later. It maybe helps that I saw these guys two or three times during this period, having interviewed Trevor Strnad for the first time at First Ave in Minneapolis on their tour supporting Unhallowed, so I knew that they were heading back into the studio to record Miasma pretty soon afterward. But when I forked over my hard-earned cash dollars for Miasma I wasn’t prepared for the pure onslaught of blistering melodic death metal that I got smacked in the face with.

There is something frantic about Miasma. The record bleeds energy: the drums are so blasty, the riffs are so thrashy, and the vocals sound like a Lovecraftian madman trying to cope with the insanity of his touring schedule. While Unhallowed was a record that I once lovingly put my foot in my mouth by calling “Slaughter of the Soul plus blast beats” when face-to-face with the band (Stupid Metal Guy), Miasma‘s sheer intensity began pulling the Black Dahlia Cart away from that particular Dala horse. Some of this is simply in way the band updates the sound—pushing at the boundaries of speed and riffing—but the band’s own unique voice presses through on tracks like “Statutory Ape” and “I’m Charming.” This whole album has an ironic, tongue-in-cheek feel that just feels right; we live in a world is nasty enough for a death metal record without needing to invent fantasies to create disgusting and offensive experiences.

Miasma‘s frantic energy is helped by the fact that the album is 33 minutes long. Nothing overstays its welcome, with some of the best riffs the band ever wrote (see the chorus on “Flies”) coming and going in a matter of seconds. Songs top out at 4 minutes, with the exception of the epic closer “Miasma,” which fades out with a legendary riff that actually extends the song a bit longer. And while The Black Dahlia Murder would take the jump from a great metal band with decent guitars to Guitar God status with the Ryan Knight’s increased influence and ridiculous solos on RitualMiasma featured a band really coming into their own on the guitar front with the solos from tracks like “Novelty Crosses” and “Flies” being memorable and interesting complements to the sound.

Arguably the biggest downside to Miasma is its over-the-top 2005 production. The record has a sound that was obviously produced in the heyday of the metalcore push,1 as evidenced by being recorded at Trax East; the epicenter of the super-sampled, hyper-loud stuff that was crawling out of its newly eviscerated cocoon. But while I’m normally critical of this sound, Miasma defies expectations by being really good. There are moments when it seems like the band is aware of the sound and are even playing with the exaggerated, huge, wall-of-sound loudness and feel of the production techniques of the time. On “Flies” and, one of my personal favorite moments on the whole album, on “Miasma,” the band pushes everything into white noise, giving unsuspecting listeners the full on Trelldom experience.

The Black Dahlia Murder in 2005 by Scott Harrison

The Black Dahlia Murder in 2005 by Scott Harrison

It’s great that the band moved on from that sound—and I guess they basically lost their drummer because he couldn’t keep up live with what was being laid down in the studio during the era of triggering and rampant replacement2—but Miasma works as a window into metal in 2005, and it may be the best exemplar of how that sound could work. The Black Dahlia Murder‘s vision at the time was unique: post-Gothenburg melodic death metal in a time when breakdowns reigned supreme, and managing to balance their influences with their own very modern, hungry voice. The cover art for Miasma is of Las Vegas, and while the band has pretty much gone ‘old school’ for their art since Deflorate, I think this art is illustrative of what differentiates this record and this band from the scene to which they owe so much. Peel back the miasma of Las Vegas and the trappings of production trends and you’ll find underneath a band ramming hard against their own boundaries, discovering their limits, and defining their sound in a frenzy. While The Black Dahlia Murder is a popular band, I still think they’re one of the most underrated by ‘trve’ metal dudes and Miasma is probably their most underrated album. But I think it’s a classic.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Note, I am not calling The Black Dahlia Murder metalcore, that would be ignorant and anyone who says that is dumb.
  2. Note: not supported by facts, rampant heresay, not double-checked.
Share →
  • AndySynn

    I enjoy it… but the songwriting still isn’t there for a lot of the tracks. It’s a bit too stock for about… 60%(?)… of its run-time. It’s still damn good stock though.

    But “Nocturnal” remains the album where the speed and technique was best married to the best songwriting.

    Oh, and Ryan Knight joined for “Deflorate”, which is definitely their flashiest, guitariest, album. And a personal favourite. “Ritual” is a bit… meh. “Everblack” was about 70% awesome, and the new one… not decided yet. But feels a bit like a throwback to Miasma/Nocturnal, but with a touch more neoclassical…ism…ness. Something like that.

    • It’s funny, because I think Deflorate is their weakest. But I really think you’re wrong about Miasma. I think the record just nails the feel. Nocturnal was good but felt a tad rehashed already. Everblack is great, and I’ve not received the promo for the new one.

      Also, Ritual is their best record ever and you’re smoking crack.

      • AndySynn

        Dang, really? “Ritual” is the one that feels most like a rehash to me. It’s also very frontloaded… the first four are great… but then barring “Carbonized…” it’s pretty forgettable.

        If I were to rank them it would go.

        1. Nocturnal – highest ratio of quality, best songwriting/performance blend.

        2. Deflorate – under-rated, brilliant musicianship, second highest ratio of song badass…ness.

        3. Everblack/Unhallowed – EB has high peaks, but some low valleys, UH just has a certain scrappy charm.

        4. Miasma – for the reasons above.

        5. Ritual – some killer, mostly filler

        • What even? You’re like the only person who thinks Ritual is their worst. I actually did an interview that never got published with Trevor where he spent the whole time being like “Wow, yeah, we really exploded with that record. Set the bar really high. Everyone loved it. Sure hope they’re gonna like Everblack…”

          • AndySynn

            Well, that’s me… the rebel… the lone-wolf… James Dean… erm… Wolverine?

            No, but seriously, I get that it did very well for them (they were on the cusp of a big explosion after both Nocturnal and Deflorate anyway), but song-wise it’s a very “safe” album. Very interchangeable. After “Carbonized…” the songs are all pretty undistinguished and interchangeable with each other or other tracks they’ve already done.

            I mean, I can otherwise characterise all their albums with a certain… sensibility, I suppose. For example, “Deflorate” feels like their most technical, “Everblack” is the one that leans more towards an older school Death/Black vibe – but “Ritual”… it’s just a solid album. Unspectacular, but successful for all that.

            This has at least made me want to go give “Miasma” another spin though.

          • I really don’t agree. I think it was the biggest break from their sound basically ever, and the guitar solos alone are worth the price of entry.

          • AndySynn

            Ah well. I’m afraid by the rules of the internet I must now massively overreact to your difference of opinion with me, and declare that I hate you, question your sexuality/mental capacity, and declare that your father was a hamster, and your mother smells of elderberries.

            I’m sorry. Them’s the rules.

          • I’m fairly certain you’re supposed to compare me to Hitler, actually. It’s not just the rules, it’s the law.

          • AndySynn

            You don’t have the moustache for it.

          • You learn something new everyday on AMG.

      • IamRipper

        I agree with you, Miasma has always been my favorite from them, and is easily one of my favorite albums of all time. That guy up there doesn’t know anything about Metal, he thinks Meshuggah is a good band lol.

  • RuySan

    “A Vulgar picture” might be one of the best songs ever for Running. My pace doubles every time that song kicks in.

    • ModernMan

      Yes, that is one of my go to sprinting songs!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I’d be hard-pressed to call any album released after the year 2000 as “olde”…

    I realize that it’s the 10 year anniversary of the release but still, it’s just counterintuitive, at least to me.

    • Did you read the blurb? Or are you just complaining?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Did you read the second paragraph of my comment?
        Also, not really complaining.

        • No, you edited it after I responded. Also, 10 years is a long time, yo.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            That’s how I roll. I post the comment, proofread it after I post and immediately edit anything I might have missed.

            I guess that’s true. I am usually hesitant to say this but I have only been a fan of heavy metal for about 8 years.

          • Ah. Publish first, ask questions later. That’s how I run the blog!

  • Pimpolho

    AMG is being quite present, eh? Freaking love it!
    This also makes me hyped for the new record!

  • RilesBell

    I can always count on you to share some love for these guys. Arguably the most consistent metal band around right now. Miasma doesn’t quite give me the same feeling as it does for you but that’s probably because I discovered them through Nocturnal and went from there. Can’t wait for their next release as I’m sure it will stack up with the others. Love that they don’t need 5 years to write an album.

    • They’re definitely on the 2 year cycle these days and it seems to go OK for them, which isn’t true of so many bands.

      But I do think they’re even better than they used to be, so it’s hard to even say they’re “consistent,” they’re better than consistent. But I totally agree with what you’re saying.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’ve been lazy with this band having only enjoyed Ritual and a little bit of time with Ever Black…Adding this to this weeks playlist

  • Meat Tornado

    Please stop saying Ryan Knight was added on Ritual. He was on Deflorate before. Look it up on Metallum, or in the booklet for the CD. Do research please AMG.

    • Knight joined the band on Deflorate essentially as a replacement and had his first real chance at writing and influencing the sound on Ritual. That’s what I was told in an interview with the band. I’ve updated the text to reflect more accurately that fact. I rarely make personnel mistakes about bands, and I was correct in the primary thrust of my point. Your exasperated overreaction is silly and inappropriate.

      • Meat Tornado

        :((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

        Yes I am also aware of this, but the times you mention him, the text seems to indicate that you’re saying he joined the band for Ritual. Otherwise, I agree with you. Though the soloing on Deflorate is unmistakably Ryan Knight. Reminds me of his work with Arsis.

        • I need to listen to Deflorate again, honestly. It’s been ages since I’ve heard it. I think I actually overrated it at the time given how I ended up feeling about it afterward.

  • Art Saves

    Up to Nocturnal TBDM was okey but gotta say that they took the step up to the big league with Ritual and Everblack. Atleast setting them aside from boring metalcore/deathcore standards. But maybe I should give Miasma another chance ;)

    • Not deathcore or metalcore. They’re a melodeath band, man.

      But yes, you should give Miasma another chance for sure.

      • Art Saves

        I know they’re really not metalcore or deathcore but many years ago they where lumped together with such groups so was hard to look passed that on their older records.
        Listened to Miasma on youtube and was surely much better then I remembered it. :P

        • But I think it’s just the sound quality, not the music. And if people can’t get past that, I dunno what to say. Listen harder?

      • Hammersmith

        I still don’t understand how they were ever labeled metalcore.

        • It baffles the mind. I think it’s ’cause they had tattoos and plugs and stuff.

  • madhare

    10 years doesn’t feel enough time for this series (as was pointed out). Or for a recording to become a classic. In just 10 years it’s hard to see what the lasting legacy of a work will be. The 20 year articles work much better. (It doesn’t help that this supposed classic came out only 4 years before the blog started.)

    Looking at cultural history, it’s common that many works later change their importance radically. This process often takes a minimum of ten years, and often more.

    Like Beethoven’s Ninth which received a mixed reception. (Liked in Vienna, but judged more harshly in London.) For example, one English critic wrote that it was “at least twice as long as it should be”, repetitive, and with ill-fitting parts so that “want of intelligible design [was] too apparent”. (Sound familiar?! :D ) The critic went on to suggest omitting repetition and removing the famous Ode to Joy altogether, and so the work might “be put into a produceable form”. And later it became considered as one of the greatest classical works. (Händel’s Messiah is another similar good example.)

    In the case of more contentious works, or works including questionable non-musical factors, even 20 years is not really enough. (E.g., any decent conversation about Burzum’s quality or importance is still really difficult.)

    Yah, yah, I read the blurb. And of course, you’ll write about whatever you want on your blog. Still wanted to donate my 2c. (It’s a blog about criticising things, after all! :D )

  • Doomdeathrosh

    This album still gives me the haunts! Right from the beginning tremolo of Built for Sin to the final riff of Miasma.
    Plus, they are, probably, the only band with the balls to name a Melodeath song “I’m Charming”!

  • peasantwizard

    An all time favorite! Bought this album impulsively on release and have been hooked ever since. Frantic, thorough, disgusting shreeeeddding

    Never understood the flak these guys get. Consistently some of the best around for what, a decade?

    Stoked for the new album!

  • Hammersmith

    I’ve always liked these guys, although for me they seem to release a great album followed by a good album. Unhallowed/Nocturnal/Ritual are great, Miasma/Deflorate/Everblack good. But I haven’t listened to Miasma in a long time, so perhaps its time to go back to it.

  • ModernMan

    I hear that Miasma gets a lot of slack, I just can’t understand why this album is not considered one of their bests. Way more unique than anything after Deflorate.