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Metalcore is something of a dirty word in metal circles, and most of the time it's for good reason. It carries with it a stigma of a bastardized, commercialized version of something that is itself a sub-genre that is treated with a strong level of skepticism in extreme circles for the past 15 years, namely the signature Gothenburg sound that has been explored even more heavily than its alleged power metal equivalent in Finland ala Children Of Bodom and company. In light of this, The Black Dahlia Murder is often passed up by the underground, though widely embraced by the current hipster scene, but they manage to buck the trend somewhat with a great deal of intensity, and "Deflorate" stands as one of their most intense offerings.
Perhaps the greatest flaw of this album is that, in spite of its relatively strict adherence to the standards set by At The Gates in the musical department, it tries just a little too hard at avoiding sounding lightweight in the mold of many cookie cutter metalcore bands and becomes an exercise in overkill all but immediately. All the gratuitous blast beats and wild tremolo riffs heard on "The Red In The Sky Is Ours" have been concentrated to the point that one can't go more than a minute without being bombarded by them. This approach is readily on display on most of the early 2000s offerings of The Crown, but on this particular album, the groovy thrash breaks that normally act as an effective counterbalance are less frequent and often wanting.
The result of all the elements being implemented in this overtly exaggerated way is a series of songs that have a hard time being recognizable apart from each other. Perhaps the lone example where things truly start to change up a bit is "Throne Of Lunacy", which reaches a bit more towards a traditional sound in line with the Stockholm scene and a handful of American affiliates of the mid 90s, but still contains a fair amount of those predictable melodic clichés and sweep-happy guitar solos. In fact, the lead guitar department is primarily where this band does an exemplary job, channeling a sound with about the same level of technical competence as Alexi Laiho, but in a somewhat more tasteful and brief manner that is appropriate for a band writing high tempo crushers clocking in mostly at or under 3 minutes.
While definitely geared towards a younger generation of American melodeath affiliates who probably have heard little of the original Gothenburg trio apart from what's been put out since 2005, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to see an album like this getting a bit more respect from those who cleave to At The Gates and the middle period of The Crown. The vocal work definitely contains a fair amount of American hardcore tinges to it, though it's not quite as obnoxiously whiny as Trivium's approach, but the instrumental department is definitely trying to get as close to an orthodox Gothenburg sound as can be expected out of a band hailing from Michigan. For those who took to Battlecross' debut, a lot of what is on there can be found here, though in a somewhat less memorable fashion. It's one of TBDM's better offerings, but doesn't get beyond being about average, despite a very ambitious album art and a fair amount of technical detailing.
If there’s anything these guys can do, it’s make a decent album worth buying. As “Deflorate” goes, it was a satisfying album with very well-written riffs as well as good guitar solos (Ryan Knight is a superb guitarist). The drumming also is very consistent, the farthest thing from sloppy (poorly performed), and I do not ever expect any less from Shannon Lucas. Trevor Strnad is very good at doing his shrieks, however I am not impressed by his growls. I do not happen to like the way he does them.
Along the lines of this album, my favorite track from it would be either Necropolis (#2) or I Will Return (#10). “Necropolis” is one of the choices particularly due to just how the song sounds overall, and the lyrics I am particularly in favor of as well. As for “I Will Return”, I found the guitar intro to be thoroughly appealing as well as the rest of the song, not to mention the song being about cryogenic freezing is very fascinating and interesting for what the song is about.
This album does not stray from their usual music style, though (if you are expecting them to have a different sound). They’ve had the melodic sound, and this album still has that, so if you do not like melodic death metal, then this album is not for you.
Other tracks worth mentioning: “Black Valor” (#1), “Christ Deformed” (#5), and “Eyes of Thousand” (#8).
Album rating: 9/10
So here we are with The Black Dahlia Murder's fourth and, in my opinion, best album. This is where it all comes together. The songwriting is better, the songs are catchier and more memorable, the technicality is upped a notch, and to put it simply the band seem to have finally found a style that suits them best.
The album kicks off straight away with the pummeling riff to Black Valor, with Shannon Lucas keeping at his incredibly fast blasts. The riffs tend to be fast tremelo picked pieces, or slower palm muted ones like at the start of Necropolis. The Gothenburg influences have been turned down a bit on this album compared to Nocturnal, perhaps because the band are trying to develop their sound into something a bit more original, while still keeping the elements of familiar bands. New guitarist Ryan Knight of Arsis fame proves to be a good acquisition, with the solos on this album being some of the best i've heard from TBDM thus far. They are very epic and well played, without being the highlight of the music.
Shannon Lucas's drumwork proves as good as it always was, playing some insane blast beats. The different rhythms the man throws in fit the rest of the music perfectly. Ryan "Bart" Williams's bass work also provides an extra bit of heavy atmosphere to the rhythm section and indeed the album overall. Trevor Strnad is still proving why he's one of the best vocalists in extreme metal today, with his signature shrieks and low growls sounding as good here as they ever did.
Also, they now have something their career has been gagging for. An epic song, which is closer I Will Return. Starting with an atmospheric slow intro and going into a damn good tremolo riff, before closing with an excellent solo (played by the producer Jason Suecof). It's so different to anything else TBDM has done before and they did it so well!
This is the peak of TBDM's career. This is the album where everything has come together perfectly. The band have finally found the line up that they work best with, thanks to Shannon Lucas and Ryan Knight, and the end result is superb. Definitely get this album as soon as possible.
Highlights: Death Panorama, Denounced, Disgraced, Necropolis, A Selection Unnatural, Eyes of Thousand, I Will Return
Before cracking into the reasons why this album is so great, I'd like to address a few common problems I've noticed among metal listeners. It's seems that group consensus is the name of the game here; if the majority of listeners find a band/album too different or experimental it is quickly deemed "blasphemous", "amateur at best" or other such derogatory, immature terms. The Black Dahlia Murder is one such band who suffers from this barrage of criticism from the "true" metal community. People are quick to point out flaws in production and vocal style to the utmost detail, calling the music "pretentious" and "predictable" while almost ALWAYS using a completely separate album to base their opinion on. Now, I could be mistaken here, but isn't clinging to group consensus based upon genre/sound of a band rather than formulating your own INDIVIDUAL opinion of the work both pretentious and immature?
Arguing that one style of metal is superior to the next is both obnoxious and juvenile. This elitist standpoint permeates the majority of metal listeners, and almost always steals the attention away from the music itself. It's as if "the official rules of metal" require you to leave your intellect and personal opinion at the door in favor of safe hive-minded behavior. It's sad to think that those who rebel and reject the mainstream for lack of integrity among music ironically parallel the same value system. And you were calling this band unoriginal? But alas, on with the review!
Right out of the gate, "Deflorate" pummels you with the opening riffs to "Black Valor". Double bass flows in abundance here, so those seeking a speedy rhythm section need not be worried. It should be noted that the musicianship of this band has only grown with each release, an element that is unfortunately overlooked due to their apparent "metal core" tag. Those who manage to see/hear past the social stigma will be heavily rewarded with a solid, well rounded metal release.
"Necropolis" starts with a catchy palm muted/chug riff that opens up with a powerful scream from Mr. Strnad. His vocal style has seen constant ridicule, ranging from "intolerable" to "underdeveloped", but I personally find his hybrid style extremely refreshing to the scene. I liken it to a combination of Chuck Schuldiner on "Symbolic"/"The Sound of Perseverance" and Frank Mullen on more modern Suffocation releases.
At this point I'd like to discuss a criminally underrated aspect of any band, that being lyrical content/execution. As with "Nocturnal", Trevor Strnad has gone all out making sure each line conveys imagery beyond the words they are encapsulated in. It is truly rare to find a gifted metal lyricist, especially one in extreme metal. I will always stand by my claim that Brett Hoffmann of Malevolent Creation is far superior in his lyrical writing than a good 95% of his peers, but Strnad proves he did his homework. This of course gives this band a massive edge over the countless drones of similar acts attempting the "revival".
The guitars are some of the best overall sounding in modern metal in my honest opinion. Punchy, down-tuned riffing coupled with fast-paced chord exchanges make for a highly memorable listen. The "At The Gates" influence isn't as prominent as it was on "Nocturnal", and I think this is due to the fact that the band is starting to evolve their own sound while using the elements from the bands we all know and love. I think of their sound more as a melodic approach to Suffocations method of riffing, with the European influence dipping its head in from time to time. The bass playing isn't exceptional, but in this case it really doesn't have to be in order to get the job done. The mix is overall stellar; everything can be heard clearly especially with a good pair of studio headphones.
Ryan Knight of the band Arsis joins this time around on lead guitar. This was a great move by the band, as I felt the leads on "Nocturnal" were too sterile sounding; they lacked depth and creativity. This problem was quickly solved once they swapped out lead players. His leads in "A Selection Unnatural", "Denounced, Disgraced", and "Throne of Lunacy " are excellent. He took the time to make each lead speak as much as possible while being careful not to detract from the rhythm underneath; something I think more lead players should pay attention to.
This brings me to the exceptional drumming performance; Shannon Lucas deserves credit for blasting away with the best of them. Every track delivers well placed beats and rhythms, tailor fitting the riffs in such a way that one can almost visualize an audial steam roller crushing everything in its path. There are a couple stop-go parts throughout the album, but nothing will top the intro to the albums closing track "I Will Return". It's also important to note this bands ability to create atmosphere on a whim; this song proves that. Some of the best riffing on the album is featured here, and the outro lead is among the best on the album (If I'm not mistaken, it was a guest lead by a friend of the bands).
So in conclusion, do yourself a favor and use your own judgement before succumbing to the stereotypical cynical metal head response. Look past the stigma of this band and you will be heavily rewarded with an excellent experience. "Deflorate" will continue to impress you again and again if you give it the chance.
There are two kinds of deathcore: the "emo scene shit" deathcore (like Bring Me The Horizon's first album) and the "metal as fuck" deathcore, and I could say TBDM belongs to the latter kind.
Now this really is metal as fuck musicianship: excellent solos, awesome riffs, polished production, insane drumming, topnotch musicianship, wicked sick vocals, discrete breakdowns... can you expect something more? The only general complaint I have for this album is that they have repeated themselves. This sounds like "Nocturnal", if you ask me. Seems like the songs have been following a certain formula here.
The first two songs give its listeners a good impression on the album. "Black Valor" really is a very explosive song while "Necropolis" continued the impression "Black Valor" left. Those two songs will definitely make you bang your head. "Christ Illusion", meanwhile is the only song, for me in the middle of the album that definitely made me bang my head (again). The song definitely has the edge like the first two songs. Meanwhile, the last two songs "That Which Erodes The Most Tender Of Things" and "I Will Return", also gave an explosive ending to the album, The second to the last song being somewhat chaotic, at the same time melodic, and the last song having a good mix of being melancholic and chaotic.
Meanwhile, the third song of the album, "A Selection Unnatural", managed to be brutal, but is somewhat lacking of melodic factors. Although a good song of its own, "Death Panorama" is somewhat short and is a ripoff of "Black Valor". Both "Eyes Of Thousand" and "Throne Of Lunacy" are good songs with evil riffs and wicked solos, but they seem to follow the formula somewhat excessively. "Denounced, Disgraced", although not necessarily a bad song, unfortunately, doesn't seen to fit in the album in general. It sets a somewhat different mood compared to the other songs.
Overall, this album is good enough, but I think the band needs to do something new. Now, if you like deathcore music, you really should listen to this band. Trust me, you're going to like it better than the usual BMTH crap out there.
The first words to come to mind when this album has finished playing is time to play this again! This album truely is a great album by the dahlia. It changed some from Nocturnal but was still just as good if not better than Nocturnal.
This album first starts off with with a a quick note, jumping at you in suprise. Next comes the melodic riff from the guitar and the insane drum beats. Throughout the album the riffs continue to astound me as to how unaverage they are. They aren't some simple riffs anyone could play. It was well developed and took time to configure. But it doesn't stop after the first song. Throughout this whole album, not many parts repeat. They don't make 3 second parts and repeat them throughout the verses. Mostly the whole verse is different. This means that the Dahlia obviously put some time onto configuring these amazing parts.
Another great thing about this album is the way the Dahlia makes it's music. They must spend Much more time in the studio than many other bands coming up with the precise tuning for the guitars, the right notes, chords, and fret layouts. That doesn't come just by sitting around thinking of how successful they want to be. They work hard towards their songs and create an equal balance between guitar bass and drums to make an amazing sounding album.
As I said earlier...the drum beats are insane. However, it isn't a sloppy mess of double bassing and some random snare and cymbal parts. The beats actually flow distinctly with the music. And because there isn't a lot of repeating in the guitar riffs, it shows true tallent to stay in such close touch with the guitar.
The vocals were a major thing I didn't seem to like all that much when I first started listening to BDM. But after listening to nocturnal a few times, I was used to it and like it a lot more. Personally I find that Trevor's voice sounds better when he does his low pitched "growl" as some would call it. But I believe it sound better. Also though, having the higher pitched vocals adds a lot of versatility to the songs making them not all sound the same.
The lyrical themes particular to this album also stood out to me. Many songs refer to war and horror. However plain this may sound, they don't just sing about it in general. They really expand on the meanings. They use "big words" to project a meaning and make analogies and expand on it making you actually think about the message they are projecting.
The only thing I didn't find all that great about this albums is that they didn't have the same dark feeling they produced in Nocturnal. But making it different doesn't matter to me because this definetly tops the list of best albums.
Imagine for a moment that J.K.Rowling, unexpectedly and uncharacteristically, writes a book of such incredible vision and beautiful prose that I and all the rest of her detractors are forced to bite our tongues for good, and get in line to apologize to her for decrying Harry Potter as a snivelling excuse for sub-literature.
Something a little like that forever hypothetical situation has happened with suspected hipsters The Black Dahlia Murder. Not on quite that scale, of course - this is by no means a complete redemption from their previous associations with Metalcore and the more sugary incarnations of Gothenburg Metal. Personally, I have only their debut EP to compare, as save a few excerpts from Nocturnal I have ignored the band since then. While they haven't completely deserted the trappings of their scene origins, TBDM have certainly come a very long way since then.
Two things are obvious as soon as the album begins, with 'Black Valor.' Firstly, their guitarists Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight are actually seriously good, and secondly that the drumming is going to be a problem throughout the album.
Despite the technical feats managed in the half hour or so of the album's runtime, the band are let down by the drums, which are mixed a little too loud and sharp for their own good considering the only average skill of the drummer. The lack of a decent bass guitar sound exacerbates this. When the drummer actually lets up for a moment and settles with a simple double-bass instead of drowning everyone else with blastbeats, the catchy guitar riffs begin sounding much more appealing ('That Which Erodes The Most Tender'). This problem is mitigated somewhat with the use of earphones.
The rapid leads and riffs that are so abundant and energetic on the album are not going to stick with you for the rest of your life, but are well thought out and would not be out of place on an At The Gates reunion album. The best moment comes with 'I Will Return', with an epic, chugging opening crawl that gives away to what is actually a nicely executed tremolo riff. If this had opened the album, I am sure many would feel more favourably towards the whole thing. If the whole album was like this, I would have a lot of praise for the band. It isn't though.
Vocalist Trevor Strnad often lapses into hoarse yelling reminiscent of Killswitch Engage or whatever, but can also produce reasonable enough deep growls which, if used more frequently, would have given the album a more solid veneer of authenticity. The weak vocal performance that we do get however renders the instrumental moments the most enjoyable - unfortunately, when you dislike a singer you quickly realize just how much singing there is. At least there are no clean vocals, as clean singing is always an abomination with this sort of music.
It may seem a small step, but comparing this to A Cold-Blooded Epitaph one realizes they are taking things much more seriously these days. Let down by their vocalist and drummer, with the non-existent bassist not helping matters, it becomes understandably difficult for Eschbach and Knight to carry the album on their own. They certainly make a good fist of it, however, although a lack of consistency from their bandmates relegates the album below the 60s in my score.
J.K.Rowling might not be any good at writing, but, as the eternal argument in favour of her goes, she does get children reading. I am sure TBDM have got plenty of kids among their fanbase, and perhaps this album will lead those pupal-stage metalheads onto more accomplished bands.
Back in 2007 The Black Dahlia Murder released Nocturnal, an excellent improvement over their 2005 full-length release, Miasma. Whereas Miasma felt rushed, with very unimaginative drum work and only a few songs that stood out, Nocturnal was an example of tight song writing and musicianship. Drummer Shannon Lucas, formerly of All That Remains, brought a signature sound that helped the album stand out over their previous releases. So here we are two years later and you figure it can only get better from here for Black Dahlia right?
Things can change for a band. For starters long-time guitarist and founding member John Kempainen, opted to leave BDM last year, in pursuit of other goals. Ryan Knight, former guitarist of technical death metal outfit Arsis, was tapped to take his place. While this isn't a bad thing, it harbored the dread that BDM would become more technical the retaining the melodic sound they have made so famous for themselves. After extensive touring the band entered the studio to record their latest effort, Deflorate.
Now if you were expecting something new from The Black Dahlia Murder, then you'll probably be sorely disappointed with Deflorate. This album is essentially Nocturnal Part 2, consisting of a similar song structure found on the aforementioned release. The good news is the musicianship is as solid as before. Each band member contributes to the album to the fullest of their abilities. The guitar solos stand out a bit more than on Nocturnal. It's obvious that Ryan Knight's time in Arsis certainly influenced the guitar playing quite a bit, as each solo, while still containing the melodic tones that the band is so famous for, are now more technical and tighter than usual. The drumming stands out just as it did on Nocturnal, with Shannon Lucas blasting away with incredible proficiency.
Deflorate isn't going to break down any barriers or create a new premise for future bands to follow but all the right elements are included on this album. While some people may be put off by the lack of variety, fans of Nocturnal will definitely want to pick up Deflorate. If nothing else, this album will at least pin the band as being consistent.