Review: The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual

The Black Dahlia Murder

Ritual

Metal Blade

While most of their peers have headed for the commercial route and generally struggled to meet high expectations or live up to previous efforts, Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder have managed to get better and better over the years, becoming successful while evolving musically in terms of refining their sound while not doing much to change it, except to make it that little more savage instead of being airplay friendly for the sake of going commercial. ‘Ritual’ sets about providing another round of pummelling melodic death metal, with further scintillating songs of the occult and the sadistic.
While there’s nothing particularly new about their style on this record, the Black Dahlia Murder have only gotten more precise with their attack over time. ‘Moonlight Equilibrium’ is possibly the catchiest BDM song to date, without losing any sense of ferocity. Its an ode to everything lycan and I defy you not to sing/scream along as Trevor Strnad shrieks ‘You’ll feel the pull of the moonlight equilibrium/pitch black transmission of the soul’. This isn’t any Twilight shit – this is one song about werewolves that will have you howling at the moon in no time.
Strnad’s lyrics continue to shift between occult themes and tales of horror, the blistering brief ‘Den of the Picquerist’ and ‘The Grave Robber’s Work’ two such examples that might have you wretching into your cereal if you’re of an uncomfortable disposition, but will have you banging your head throughout. Likewise, ‘Malenchantments of the Necrosphere’ proves BDM can find a slightly slower, thuddier gear and still be effective and closer ‘Blood of the Ink’ adds a symphonic element that doesn’t sound cheesy at all. It all adds to the atmosphere of the album.
Musically, The Black Dahlia Murder are firing on all cylinders, no doubt powered on by guitarist Ryan Knight (ex-Arsis), whose partnership with Brian Eschbach provides some incredible fretwork and soloing moments across the whole 45 minutes. Drummer Shannon Lucas puts in a real damn good shift behind the kit, blasting and pedalling the performance of his life, and combines well with bassist Ryan Williams throughout, particularly on their moonlighting intro to ‘Den of the Picquerist’. On top of all that, the production is a crystal job and designed to further annihilate.
Without a doubt, ‘Ritual’ is The Black Dahlia Murder’s best work to date; like any fine wine, getting better and better with age. I personally cannot wait for more grim tales from these guys.
Peter Clegg

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