The Black Dahlia Murder aren't just extreme, they're practically absurd. These five goofy Michigan metalheads don’t write songs about vampires, they write about Castlevania. They don’t dedicate track to sinful decadence, they write paens to neon. Hot on the heels of 2009’s Deflorate, not to mention their hilarious Majesty DVD released earlier that year, the Black Dalia Murder have returned with another over-the-top opus, Ritual, an inexhaustible bout of melodic death metal that juggles more influences than most bands can name and balances effortlessly somewhere between Pantera, Suffocation, and Darkane.
Every song on Ritual has its own atmosphere and pace, all overdriven and overwhelming but still genuine in feeling. The slow grind of “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood” reeks of cloudy skies and brine, while the unstoppable “Den Of The Picquarist” is all flying droplets of gore. The guitar work here is innovative as it is searing, with axmen Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight whirling and weeping through cruel riffs and otherworldly solos. Vocalist Trevor Strnad’s harpy shriek is downright fearsome, and his lyrics, especially on anthems like “A Shrine To Madness” and “The Graverobber’s Work” (“From the dead man’s bank and trust/To the depths of Hell or bust”), are wry and poetic, littered with brilliant nonsense words (as displayed in song titles like “Malenchantments of the Necrosphere”).
Folks like to hate on the BDM, labeling them part of the problem because they use neon colors on their T-shirts, but death-metal fans who want something different and exciting need look no further. CHRIS KROVATIN
Check out "Moonlight Equilibrium" from Ritual below: