By Gabe Commissaris
If there is one word to define The Black Dahlia Murder (BDM) it is consistency. Since the release of 2007’s “Nocturnal,” they have found their distinct sound which consists of a combination between the brutal sounding death metal that is prevalent in the states and Sweden’s more melodic sounding metal music. You can now always count on them to release a quality album that stays true to that sound. Their latest release, “Nightbringers,” is no exception. This album is still the BDM doing what they do best, which is making balls-to-the-wall, crushingly melodic death metal. This album, however, stands above previous releases because of its stellar production, variety and easy accessibility.
When the BDM released “Abysmal” in 2015, there wasn’t enough variety and none of the tracks really stood out amongst previous releases. This made the album pretty forgettable after a few listens. That isn’t the case with “Nightbringers.” With the new record, the BDM are firing on all cylinders while adding some new and catchy elements to the song structures, making it a much more memorable listen.
The minute you hear the intro to “Widowmaker” you know what you’re getting yourself into. The intro is straight out of a horror movie, composed of various keyboard synths and other creepy background noises that are likely to give you goosebumps. This then leads into that familiar buzzsaw riffage and throat eviscerating vocals that the band is known for. Another track worth mentioning is “Kings of the Nightworld,” which is one of the more sinister BDM tracks. After a short build-up, the guitarists get a very catchy groove going that links almost perfectly with the double kick. That and the screeching vocals from all the band members make for a truly powerful track. There are plenty of other noteworthy moments on the album, but overall you can tell that the BDM really nailed it with this one by adding more interesting dynamics and melodies to the song structures.
All members of the band give top notch performances and make it clear that they want to leave you petrified. Guitarists Brian Eschbach and Brandon Ellis deliver their usual full frontal riff assault while managing to keep things interesting. They also have some incredible melodic rhythms and solos spread throughout the album that have the classic At The Gates (one of the founders of adding melodies with death metal) influence. The best examples of this can be seen on tracks “Kings of the Nightworld,” “As Good as Dead,” “Catacomb Hecatomb” and “Matriarch.” Bassist Max Lavelle chugs along with them, though his contribution to the album gets muffled by the guitars and drums. This is a problem seen in a lot of newer metal bands. The bass seems to get lost in the mix and you almost forget that it’s there. Alan Cassidy does a great job on the drums, delivering plenty of blast beats and making good use of the double kick. This is Cassidy’s third time recording with the band, and you can tell that he has improved. Lead vocalist Trevor Strnad still delivers an outstanding performance, switching between the viscous high pitched screams and the deep morbid growls that he is known for.
The album’s lyrical themes are pretty standard for the BDM: “Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake” is an alternate take on the story of Adam and Eve. “Catacomb Hecatomb” is about being devoured by spiders. The title track is about wreaking havoc on Christianity. “The Lonely Deceased” is a chilling account of a man working at a morgue. There are metal bands out there who chose a different lyrical approach that focuses on more meaningful themes. The BDM, however isn’t one of them. Expect nothing but sheer cruelty and blasphemy when listening to this album.
Overall, “Nightbringers” is another solid release by the BDM that shows that they have no intention of letting up anytime soon. Their dedication to their sound will not disappoint longtime fans, and is likely to draw the attention of others, considering its easy accessibility.