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