The Black Dahlia Murder

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Verminous Review

by Thom Jurek

Since releasing their 2003 debut long player Unhallowed, The Black Dahlia Murder have earned a sterling reputation for consistency. With deft melodic hooks, anthemic choruses, brutal blastbeats and filthy, speed-driven, guitars, they are among extreme metal's most enduring acts. Their innovative brand of melodic technical death metal has endeared them to hundreds of thousands of fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Verminous is the band's first outing since 2017's wildly successful Nightbringers, their first album with lead guitarist Brandon Ellis. The set peaked at 35 on the Top 200 in the U.S. as well as in the top 50 in Germany and Switzerland. Verminous is the band's ninth long player. While it is instantly recognizable as TBDM, it adds some progressive elements and employs some old school metal tropes in the mix that come off sounding refreshed and innovative.

Check the title track; after a walloping, frenetic blastbeat entry, the cascading guitars clang and churn until they emerge together in a razor wire riff. Trevor Strnad's shrieking, growling, filthy vocals are an essential part of TBDM's attack. He's mixed way up top; you can understand every word, despite the punch-drunk grooves. While it follows their winning formula of mixing melodic death metal shredding with technical acumen, the sound of the Ellis's lead lines is fierce, less blackened. A slightly slower old school HM chugging guitar approach is juxtaposed against absolutely crushing modern blastbeats on "Removal of the Oaken Stake." "Child of the Night" puts the insane technical abilities of this outfit on display with crushing guitars and anthemic choruses framed by overdriven bass work from Max Lavelle. Combining with Cassidy's in the red zone drumming, it carreens toward an off the rails catastrophe before angling in another direction. The razor-wire twinned guitar riffing in "How Very Dead," is as sophisticated and exciting as Meshuggah, with a labyrinthine instrumental breakdown. "The Wereworm's Feast" is out of control. Opening with pure speed, it tempers itself in the verse as Ellis and rhythm axe king Brian Eschbach pursue thunderously heavy riffs, as Alan Cassidy alternates between triple timing the band and swinging through the changes. Finally, "Dawn of the Rats" offers detuned bass and guitar riffs at midtempo. Within thirty seconds Cassidy's frenetic entry transforms the track into something so sinister and mercurial, it could rip off your face. The Black Dahlia Murder's superlative musicianship balances technicality, harmony, brutality, and mature sophistication on Verminous. While their style evolves somewhat here, it's a progression so smooth and in character, it's almost guaranteed to excite fans.

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