If you are a death metal fan, then you know The Black Dahlia Murder. They are one of the most successful and well-known death metal bands who has come into the scene in the last 15 or so years. The group is best known for their distinct sound from vocalist Trevor Strnad, his in-depth lyrical style, and powerful instrumentation to bring everything to life. “Nightbringers” is the newest album that the band just released and this is their eighth full-length album.
To start off, let’s dive into the instrumentation of the album. It is a The Black Dahlia Murder album so you will know what to expect if you are a fan. Everyone in the band is at their hight of their career. The first track, “Widowmaker” starts in an epic tone that any great album needs to grab the listener’s attention right away. Shooting down people left and right brings a brutal start. The drumming from Alan Cassidy is fast, but precise as ever. Laying down a foundation that drives the music with its intensity. Along with Max Lavelle doing some of the best bass work out of any previous albums in the band’s career. Usually, in metal, the bass gets drowned out by the vocals, guitar, and drums, but it is generally clear in many of the songs. The most notable aspect is the guitar work, which always has been one of the best parts of the band. Brian Eschbach is a good rhythm guitar player who provides a lot of support, both in guitar playing, but on back up vocals during live shows. He has been in the band just as long as Trevor who are the only original members of the band. The most exciting change is from Brandon Ellis, who is the newest addition to the band. Brandon is their new lead guitar player who has proven himself to be one of the best lead guitarists the band has ever had. He had big shoes to fill when Ryan Knight left, but he has been able to prove himself well. Trevor spoke about Brandon in an interview, “He is probably the most musical guy we have ever had in the band. The most educated knows the most theory and stuff like that,” (interview at Metal Wani). With that musical knowledge brings more than just knowing how to play guitar. You can tell in his riffs and especially the solos. The Black Dahlia has always had killer solos, and these are just as amazing as any other album. The title track, “Nightbringers” and “Matriarch” are excellent examples of some of the best solos on the record. The instrumentation of the album is not all speed and chaos but can be quite beautiful. After a powerful solo in “The Lonely Deceased” a beautiful acoustic guitar plays which gives a great atmosphere to the song and a different sound to compliment the track. Technical, melodic, aggressive, and beautifully crafted are the perfect words to use to describe their instrumental style with this record and any other album.
The meat to any artist to me is the vocal and lyrics. Trevor has always been one of my top favorite vocalists for extreme music. He does not use as much of a range as some others in this scene utilize, but his distinct sound is what is so remarkable. There is nothing like a high scream from Trevor. The screeching voice that is telling the darkest of stories adds so much horror to the album. His lyrics have always been phenomenal, but this album he outdid himself. Trying to go towards a more detailed and brutal take, he wrote one of the most brutal albums in the band’s history. Song topics range from necrophilia from the song “The Lonely Deceased,” a song all about a morgue worker having sex with the bodies at his disposal, with detailed necrophilia for the listener to imagine. A lyric from the song detailing the disgusting tale, “What happens on the slab dies in the morgue with me. In these walls my grisly playground. Where none rest in peace.” For the title track,”Nightbringers” is about death metal standing as the “villain” in the music world. Focusing on the conflict of religion, more specifically Christianity, being an opposing force against the music. An example of the lyrics being, “To hell you’re sold your souls for seven silver coins. And every child you’ve defiled. Religion hangs, and we are the tiers of the noose.” That is just one of the least offensive lyrics in that song, but you get a good idea of what it looks like when death metal tackles Christianity. Trevor writes some of the best lyrics in modern metal. Tremendous storytelling and does not overly repeat anything unlike many songwriters out there.
Overall, this is not a disappointment at all. If you love this band, then you will love this record. The Black Dahlia Murder create some of the best crafted and most consistent albums compared to any other artist. Every song is crafted with such care that any song can be the title track or be single. The only criticism is most of the album runs fast that it makes it hard to fully enjoy Trevor’s storytelling. More variety of sound would be appreciated, but overall it is the quality anyone would expect out of this band.
Final Score: 9/10
If you like the album and want to help the band out, here is a link to the album:
Image via Metalblade Records and The Black Dahlia Murder