Over the fifteen year career of The Black Dahlia Murder, their fans have come to expect a certain style. While there’s always room for a band to explore their sound and evolve, straying too far off the path (say, in the vein of Suicide Silence’s 2017 self-titled departure) is generally met with disdain. New album Nightbringers (Metal Blade) may not win over any new fans, but the old ones certainly won’t be disappointed.
Following their debut album Unhallowed in 2003, TBDM have barely had a misstep, releasing a new album every two years like clockwork. And while the general consensus seems to be that their 2007 release Nocturnal is their best album to date, a case can be made for almost any of their works being their best, depending on personal preference (although it seems most agree their previous release, Abysmal, left something to be desired). Nightbringers finds the band staying true to their sound while managing to still explore a little new territory.
Opening track Widowmaker makes it clear right away that TBDM are in top form, boasting all the elements found in their best work—crushing riffs, precise drumming, and sick vocals, featuring some of best lyricism found in extreme metal. While many bands’ lyrics can be truly cringe-inducing, vocalist Trevor Strnad crafts lyrics that actually make sense and make you think.
Nightbringers is also the first album featuring new member Brandon Ellis, and his guitar work is beyond impressive. His solos have the somewhat rare quality of being technically excellent but also melodic and memorable, rather than the mindless shredding and noodling solos that seems almost like an afterthought in other bands. He fits in well and brings a lot to the band’s sound, despite having large shoes to fill left by departing guitarist Ryan Knight.
Also elevating the album is the production, which manages to let every instrument cut through and be heard, no easy feat when a band plays with this kind of intensity and relies so heavily on blast beats and otherwise breakneck tempos. Singling out standout tracks proves difficult, as the album is incredibly strong throughout and really comes down to personal preference. As for myself, I like the slightly slowed down tempo of the title track and King of the Nightworld—as good as they are at what they do, I appreciate the songs that allow them (and the listener) to take a moment to catch their breath.
I was lucky enough to catch The Black Dahlia Murder on last year’s Summer Slaughter Tour with Oceano (sadly, Dying Fetus skipped that particular show) and can attest that they are just as intense live as they are on their recordings. TBDM are spending the first quarter of 2018 overseas, but if they come anywhere near your town, make it a point to see them. You won’t be disappointed.
Bottom Line: While it may not win over anyone who’s not already a fan, the legions that do like them should be ecstatic. This is a band near—or possibly at—their peak.
Listen to the album here: