For years now The Black Dahlia Murder have been consistently releasing albums as proof they can be put up amongst the current best bands in the American death metal field. As previous albums proved, the band’s reputation precedes them and so that tends to be a more important factor than what you actually hear from the likes of “Ritual” or indeed “Everblack”, in regards to what makes one instantly like a TBDM record.
The latest release from TBDM, 2015’s “Abysmal”, continues the cutting musical formula which has proven so successful over time for the band. The majority of tracks here explore a myriad of fast-paced, tightly wound melodeath pieces based around excellent guitar execution and rhythmic interplay. And of course, Trevor Strnad’s vocal delivery continues to be as grim and bitter as the instrumentation around him. Songs like the visceral opener ‘Receipt’, ‘Vlad, Son of the Dragon’ and ‘Asylum’ encompass essentially what makes TBDM’s musicianship so solid and respectable amongst the death metal community. The band’s intricate musical performance is replicated in menacing mid-sections, meandering albeit concentrated solo delivery and enigmatic finishes to ensure the listener has something memorable moments after every song has finished. There are slower songs, such as the slightly doomier ‘The Fog’ and its belligerent counterpart ‘Stygiophobic’, which if anything bring a little versatility to the band’s otherwise formulaic songwriting template, yet it’s all the better for that as well. These two songs are proof that if at any time TBDM wanted to change their musical direction, they could surely pull it off aplomb with enough confidence and technique to ensure to stagnation ensues.
However, what stops “Abysmal” from being better than it already is, is simply the wide divide between quality and quantity. What I mean by this is that the best songs and worst songs are obvious to the listener. The first two songs are powerhouses of riffs and eccentric rhythms, but which are followed by weaker acts of musicianship in the title track, ‘Re-Faced’ and ‘Threat Level No.3’, all of which unfortunately bring to mind filler as opposed to worthwhile tunes to sit down and nod along to. Indeed, despite the still coherent songwriting and instrumental performance skills, these songs simply lower the overall quality and break the flow of an otherwise very solid record.
Nevertheless, TBDM have crafted another great record with “Abysmal”. Even if it isn’t the band’s best (Beating the likes of “Nocturnal” and “Ritual” is something of a difficult task in terms of quality), it still represents TBDM as one of death metal’s most consistent ongoing groups, and which will surely invite more newcomers along for the menacing ride. The same formula remains, but the spirit of the band continues to churn excellent songs. In another couple of years, the cycle will most likely be reborn.
Released: 18th September, 2015
- Vlad, Son of the Dragon
- Threat Level No.3
- The Fog
- The Advent
- That Which Cannot Die Which Eternally is Dead