Detroit metal enigmas The Black Dahlia Murder are always a popular topic of discussion among metal communities far and wide. With a large label in Metal Blade backing them, and a surplus of history, material and intrigue that still to this day divides peoples’ opinions of them; with metalcore greats like Miasma still at the helm, a more recent purge into melodic death metal terrain with amazing efforts Ritual, Everblack and now 7th full length Abysmal, The Black Dahlia Murder have shown an incredible aptitude for growth and musical maturity. And to put it bluntly, Abysmal is an absolute corker.
The band have undoubtedly set themselves high expectations, as fans both old and new will be paying close attention. There is no doubt that they will be thoroughly impressed with the diverse, composite melodic death on display. Recent Dahlia material is the foundation work for Abysmal, and there is clear comfort in the writing zone for this demographic. This is a ballsy, multifaceted catharsis of an album, where the limits of ability are not reached but made to look exceptionally impressive.
Not least the instrumentals of the album, which remain ferocious to the core, and yet multi-layered in perfectly timed dosages. Alan Cassidy’s drum work is precise, exhaustive and undeniably filled with unparalleled vitriol. It is quite a challenge imagining how they are played, let alone actually attempting them. The riffs, from a rhythmic perspective, maintain that nasty punch of extremity, whilst also bearing the perfect amount of speed and prowess. The bass compliments the tonal quality of the guitar to an excellent standard, where Abysmal is intense from all corners. Technical diversity in the form of a polyrhythmic outro (“Re-Faced”) or a pulsating solo (“The Fog”) means that there is plenty to marvel at if you’re a string-wielder as well.
Trevor Strnad’s dynamic presence is still at large, where the extreme metal visionary is still capable to dish out both piercing high screams and cataclysmic low gutturals. The speed of execution, whether a long-drawn passage or a succession of rapid snarls, he is on point as expected. There is a clear story being told, at which point the listener can envy the sometimes lack of clarity in the vocals that Strnad delivers, often resorting to the lyric book. His vocals are a clear element of focus on the album that was needed for some time, and Abysmal is where Strnad shines most prominently in some time.
The only issue I have with the album is that the recording quality at times does feel rather bass-heavy. There will be times when the guitars do feel like whispers compared to the overwhelming layers of the instrumental counterparts behind them, where at the opposite end, the solos that emerge will sometimes completely drown out the bass and drums. It’s not to the point where nothing can be heard at all, where the listener is completely capable of hearing the best of the material at the right time. It’s just I wish the guitars were that little bit louder for certain parts of it.
On the whole, The Black Dahlia Murder have delivered yet again with another adventurous release of exceptional quality and diverse musicianship that they are all renowned for.
2. Vlad, Son Of The Dragon
5. Threat Level No. 3
6. The Fog
9. The Advent
10. That Cannot Die Which Is Eternally Dead
The Black Dahlia Murder are:
Trevor Strnad – Vocals
Ryan Knight – Guitar
Brian Eschbach – Guitar/vocals
Max Lavelle – Bass
Alan Cassidy – Drums