Fourteen years of existence, seven full length and still the same appetite for death metal. The Black Dahlia Murder is now releasing their seventh album and it is no different than what you might expect from them and still as bone crushing as their debut. Unlike most metal bands who only seem to be inspired on their debut and then quickly « mature » to add melodic vocals or just completely switch to another genre to try to catch up with teenagers are more interested in, The Black Dahlia Murder is still playing melodic death metal in the vein of At the Gates and doing it very well, thank you very much.
The violin introducing the first song, Receipt, quickly move away to welcome scorching riffs followed by a double bass powered chorus and a cha-wing tastic solo. The song structure isn’t surprising, the riffs are as good as before by being equally as memorable as neck breaking. Most of the material on Abysmal is constantly fast and mostly focus on fist pumping material and pit inducing attacks, both have which have been essential elements in Black Dahlia Murder shows since they started touring across the world.
If you have never seen frontman Trevor Strnad grinning like a madman while pumping both of his fist you have probably not spent much time at any metal festival over the last decade. With guitarist Brian Eschback they have both been conducting the band since 2001 and conquering audiences the world over. Now partnered with a consistent line up since 2012 with Max Lavelle (ex. Despised Icon) and Alan Cassidy (ex. Abigail Williams) on drums, they have put out here their best material since 2007’s Nocturnal. A monster of an album only filled with majestic songs that would make Anders Björler (At the Gates, ex. The Haunted) proud.
Still, no matter how many times you can compare the BDM to ATG, they remain two different bands, especially when you compare this album to last year’s ATG’s album. Abysmal is a much more aggressive and fun album filled with occasions to headbang and shout along where At war with reality is a darker and more epic record. Double bass breakdowns are nowhere to be found in swedish death metal but The Black Dahlia Murder uses them consistently and effectively (Re-faced, Threat level no. 3, Receipt) throughout the album without any fear of repeating themselves since they have their mastered their sound and their song crafted abilities down to a science.
Surprises are therefore quite rare (like the Cradle of Filth inspired riff on The fog) but even if they do exist, it’s not what people expect and love from The Black Dahlia Murder. Instead, they have come up with a seventh album that kicks as much ass as before, and even more than the last two.