The brutal murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, in Los Angeles in early 1947 went down in history as one of the most gruesome and shocking crimes of the '40s. The United States was, generally speaking, a more innocent, less jaded country (at least on the surface) in that pre-Manson Family, pre-Hillside Strangler, pre-Night Stalker era -- and Short's mutilation horrified a lot of Americans. Any band that would name itself after Short's killing is obviously fascinated with dark subject matter, and shock-value lyrics are quite plentiful on the Black Dahlia Murder's second full-length album, Miasma. This 2005 release is a perfect example of a U.S. recording with a very Scandinavian sound; BDM are from Detroit, but their bombastic death metal/black metal assault is greatly influenced by the extreme metal bands of Sweden and Norway. Miasma is hardly the only 2005 release that combines death metal and black metal elements, but the way BDM handles the vocals -- although not innovative -- is noteworthy. There are two extreme vocal styles on Miasma -- death metal's deep, guttural growl and black metal's high-pitched rasp -- and throughout the 33-minute disc, the growl and the rasp interact in a duet-like fashion. Wherever the growl goes, the rasp is never far away (and vice versa). The growl and the rasp are so integrated on Miasma that BDM never really shows a preference for either death metal or black metal; the Motor City residents show an equally strong appreciation of both and do so with consistently Nordic-sounding results. This harsh, blistering sledgehammer of a CD falls short of remarkable, but it's a decent (if somewhat uneven) effort that is worth checking out if one holds Scandinavian-style death metal and Scandinavian-style black metal in equally high regard.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson