Rising above the predictable black din of contemporary death metal can be a formidable task, but Michigan-based melodic death rockers the Black Dahlia Murder manage to do just that on their fifth studio album, the relentless and rewarding Ritual. Employing a lethal mix of old-school American thrash, Scandinavian black metal, Carcass-era grindcore, and classic dual-lead power metal, Ritual roars in like a runaway train and leaves the listener in pieces. Stand-out cuts like “Moonlight Equilibrium,” “The Window,” “Carbonized in Cruciform,” and “Blood in the Ink” may borrow cues from like-minded outfits such as Protest the Hero, Unearth, and At the Gates, but the sheer stamina, unpretentious delivery, and attention to detail (pinpointed bursts of vocal flange, Iron Maiden-worthy staccato leads, and breakdowns that actually feel necessary) is pure Black Dahlia firing on all cylinders. It's the band’s most impressive outing to date, and easily one of the best metal albums of 2011.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger