Two years have passed since The Black Dahlia Murder released “Deflorate”, their most successful album to date so far. The Michigan quintet have now released their fifth studio album “Ritual” on Metal Blade and the growing hype surrounding the band leaves it with a lot to live up to.
After a quiet strings intro, the album bursts into life after a minute with ‘A Shrine to Madness’ and sets the standard for the next 45 minutes. One of the things I have always admired about The Black Dahlia Murder is that they aren’t afraid to add different elements to their music. On the third track ‘On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood’, they add some hardcore style gang chants at the end. This track is also slower paced than most of the other songs on the album yet it still retains the blastbeats and unrelenting brutality.
‘Carbonized in Cruciform’ is further proof of the ability this band have to throw in a surprise but still not compromise their sound, transforming from the quiet acoustic intro and becomes something much more menacing and reminiscent of Black Metal. Often on albums which are this heavy, when you see and shorter track midway through the album, it can mean an instrumental or a short break from the chaos. Not here, with ‘Den of the Picquerist’ TBDM have gone instead for a two minute blast driven by the drums of Shannon Lewis and bass of Ryan Williams.
Frontman Trevor Strnad once stated that the band played “melodic death metal“and that sums them up just about perfectly in my opinion. There are some delicious guitar melodies and the solos are measured aren’t just about fitting as many notes into a short space of time as possible, the production of Mark Lewis (who also worked on ‘Deflorate’) is clean without being over polished and lives up to what Strnad calls “The most focused Black Dahlia strike of all time”.
The sound of the band has developed with each album and the new partnership of Strnad and lead guitarist Ryan Knight has made for stronger songs and the band really do seem on the verge of something special. The band has consistently grown with each album, and shows no hint of slowing down. The brutal pace that resonates through this album is glued together by the guitars of Ryan Knight and Brian Eschbach.
While this year has been an excellent year so far for releases, this definitely deserves to be up there with the best of them and will no doubt appear on many top album lists at the end of the year. It is difficult to place this among their back catalogues, which are all excellent albums, but it is arguably the best The Black Dahlia Murder album to date, and proof of how far they can go.