Released: 2013, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The Black Dahlia Murder had grown a bit slick and clinical of late, shedding the rough-hewn edges that made, say, 2007's Nocturnal so viscerally intense in favor of a cleaner sound that while bold, rang a little hollow. The material, as well, was starting to seem a bit workmanlike as perhaps the band were getting a bit too comfortable in their melodic death metal skin.
Their sixth album, Everblack, however, is a real kick in the ass that gets things back on track with punishing authority. The bottom end and grit of old figures in the mix again here - while the overall clarity and brashness is retained. And the band have crafted a mean-ass 10-pack of tracks that bristle with energy and malicious intent. The fire and fury are back, and The Black Dahlia Murder sound as ferocious as ever.
The new rhythm section of bassist Max Lavelle (ex of Despised Icon) and drummer Alan Cassidy (ex of Abigail Williams) certainly contribute to the added impact and looser feel on Everblack. Their determined chugging pace sprints and slows with effortless abandon, making “Blood Mine” and “Phantom Limb Masturbation” rumble and quake, and tracks like the opener “In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me” leap right down your throat – aided there by the hair-raising banshee howl vocalist Trevor Strnad unleashes when the song takes off.
By the same token, Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight’s gnashing guitars are full, ballsy and expressive, giving some real teeth to the complexities of “Raped In Hatred By Vines of Thorns” and lending extra weight to the already menacingly heavy “Into The Everblack.” While Knight’s fanciful soloing continues to shimmer and swirl, the riffing underneath is abrasive and feral.
And despite some wacky titles, which are something of a Black Dahlia tradition, and the band’s penchant for a bit of cheek, Strnad’s lyrics and vocals match the serious tone of the music and then some. He positively foams at the mouth on the frantic “Every Rope A Noose” and “Goat of Departure” – although the video for the song is quite hilarious - and his intermittent death metal growls are ominously effective.
A jarring return to form.