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Art Thou Feeling It Now, Mr Krabs - 71%

Tanuki, November 21st, 2022

Miasma, Nocturnal, Deflorate. Sounds like one hell of a honeymoon, not to mention a sensational trilogy of albums which helped prove The Black Dahlia Murder were more than just middling MySpace malarkey existing solely to give Michigan mall goths tinnitus. Though, after such an effective one-two-three punch, it's only natural to feel nervous about a band's trajectory. This is usually when they decide to get cute, experimenting with ambitious new styles and searching for a new creative thumbprint. A band's earlier output may rarely be their best, but its freedom from both preconceived expectation and internal restlessness often results in it being their most accessible and fun album. This is certainly the case with Miasma. Ritual, on the other hand, is not accessible, and only fun after you've sat on it for a good while and got to know what makes it tick.

To my ears, Ritual sounds restless and ungainly. Conceptually - less so, musically - it reminds me of South of Heaven. The searing tempest of manic barbarism isn't quite so punctual this time around, replaced by a strained bevy of atmospherics and acoustics. The most egregious example is 'Conspiring with the Damned'. It's perfectly fine for peppy slugfests to have a cooldown, so that the drummer's arms don't fall off, but this interlude just drags on forever and ever. Wispy chugs and a silly 'spooky demonic murmuring' skit bring the momentum to a jarring halt. Not to disparage bands like Alterbeast or Inferi, who I find perfectly serviceable in their own right, but this type o' thing would definitely sound more at home on one of their albums. That also applies to the strange non-sequitur thrashy elements of 'Den of the Picquerist', or the disjointed stridence of 'A Graverobber's Work', sounding so jejune alongside the tangled mess of cables that surround it.

I have no evidence to back this up, but it feels like Ritual may have originally been intended to be a concept album, but the idea fell apart, and the holes were plugged with completely unrelated carryovers. 'On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood' is the worst offender in this regard, a lumbering and elephantine composition that accomplishes about as much as Mercenary-era Bolt Thrower. Which is to say, basically nothing. It's an extensive showcase of Strnad's lower registers, though 'Their Beloved Absentee' does this much better, and the song's sudden jazzy lick-slathered solo is just bizarre. It's experimental and brave, most definitely. Ritual doesn't feel half-assed in the least, but some of the ideas fall flat. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, this album feels flat-assed.

Is Ritual broken beyond repair? Hell nah, it's not even broken. It just needs some WD40 squirted into its hinges. When this album gets it right, my goodness it's incredible. 'Carbonized in Cruciform' is a macabre neoclassical masterpiece, proffering a phenomenal riff that sounds like if you put Tankard and King Diamond in a blender. 'Blood in the Ink' is another certified hood classic, as the kids would say, with its chorus a coalition of hard-charging melody and eerie orchestral symphonia that reminded me a bit of Gates of Ishtar. Though sadly, this is yet another Dahlia tune themed around suicide. At least it only pokes some fun at the claim that metal contains subliminal psychotic messages, making this track feel like less of a cry for help. On the other hand, the album's closing words - a distorted voice informing us that suicide is the only way out - is made exceptionally painful by the untimely passing of Trevor Strnad.

And thus, we're left with an album with monstrous potential, but ended up sounding like a patchwork beast of many disparate ideas. If you level with it, and allow yourself to marinate inside its steamy grandeur for as long as it takes, you might even call it your favorite Dahlia album. It has that unnatural, quirky feel to it that makes it so mystifyingly different to the rest of their discography, kinda like Death's Sound of Perseverance or Sigh's Gallow's Gallery. It'll either be your favorite of your least favorite, with not much in between. Unless you're me, who rated it kind of average. Because I, as a music critic and as a human being in general, have no idea what I'm doing.

This review series is dedicated to the memory of Trevor Strnad.

Eh? - 40%

Nokturnal_Wrath, August 26th, 2015

Unlike some people on this site, I actually liked Unhallowed. Sure it was one dimensional and possessed that core stupidity that so many people love to bash but it was hard to argue with music so catchy. I cannot say the same about Ritual, because quite frankly this album is a fucking chore to get through.

I've always been astounded that when bands decide to exercise all core elements out of their music, aspects such as good song writing get thrown out the window along with them. I have the same problem with Job For A Cowboy's first album, an utterly dull and forgettable attempt at death metal from a band whose Doom début was fairly competent. Yes I know The Black Dahlia Murder have never really been a core band and haven't had a strong amount of core influence for a while now but for some reason I find the absence of said elements to be grating here.

The main reason why I don't like this album is the simplest and possibly the worst. I don't like the riffs and more importantly I don't like the music. The vocals have never been this bands strongest point but for some reason I'm noticing their shortcomings a lot more on Ritual. Whilst one melodic lead may capture my attention for a few seconds there's not many of them and the rest of the music is comprised of lifeless melodeath compositions and annoying vocals.

Riffs are always the most important part of melodic death metal but there isn't a single memorable one on Ritual. The riffs come and go without any impact, songs are structured well enough and its good to see the band aren't repeating themselves but the song themselves are bland and forgettable. Matters aren't helped at all by the fact this album sounds weak and uninspired. The entirety of ritual just reeks of lack of effort. None of the riffs are creative, if you've been following the melodeath scene then you've heard this before.

I've never been a fan of the band's vocalist but he's even more unbearable here. Death growls have a strange breathy quality to them whilst the high pitched shrieks come off as whiny and pathetic. Like a reviewer before me mentioned, the vocals here are dry, often being overpowered by the instrumentals. Heck, the whole production is dry, with none of the instruments having the same punch that they had before, thus rendering this album ineffective for the most part.

The intensity is gone, leaving behind a hollow core devoid of passion. Ritual feels synthetic and mechanical, like a band going through the motions of writing an album without adding any emotion into the creative process. I can't help but feel that if The Black Dahlia Murder recorded Ritual with more feeling it could be something truly special but I'm just not feeling it.

A Ritualistic Approach To The Fifth - 92%

TheTrueMonster, June 28th, 2015

Deflorate (2009) was a good album, full of A-grade melodic death metal, however, (then) newcomer Ryan Knight (lead guitar) didn’t have enough pull in the band to incorporate his musical style into the album (apart from the solos on the album). On Ritual, it becomes overtly apparent that Bryan Eschbach is not the sole songwriter any longer. Knight’s writing style shows a lot on Ritual and it displays his incredible talent for great songwriting. Knight’s technical approach to songwriting, coupled with Eschbach’s aggressive approach to riffs that emanate anger and the macabre create a very unique sound that absolutely stands out atop other albums of the death metal brood.

The overall sound of the album is (like Deflorate and Nocturnal) noticeably influenced by the Swedish melodeath sound, albeit more brutal in the best of ways. The brutality obviously originates from the American lust for aggressive death metal and works well with the melodic approach. Trevor Strnad’s vocals vary in form (as with all of TBDM’s albums) taking on a high shrieked appearance and at times a very brutal-sounding low growling appearance. Strnad is obviously (apart from performance heard on Everblack) at the top of his game here. Newcomers to The Black Dahlia Murder might find his vocals (especially the shrieks) a little annoying at first, but after one gets used to Strnad’s vocals one quickly learns that he is among the best in extreme metal. The array of vocal forms blends in well with the music and the transitions are welcome, keeping the music fresh and full of surprises.

As for the lyrics: they are dark, poetic and beautiful. The lyrics are without a doubt some of the best in modern metal. The themes of the album revolve around specific “rituals”, making the album a “semi-concept” album. The song “Moonlight Equilibrium” is about werewolves and werewolf transformations, while the song “Carbonized In Cruciform” covers the events and proceedings of a very sinister conjuration ritual presented in a fashion that clearly showcases heavy influence from black metal.

The bass is sadly mostly inaudible, despite making a grand appearance on a few songs (e.g. “On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood” and “Den Of The Picquerist”). This album is the last album featuring bass player Ryan Williams (mixer and producer on Everblack) and drummer Shannon Lucas, which makes it rather special as it was indeed a very tight lineup. The drumwork is as can be expected from Lucas – incredible. Lucas throws in enough blast beats to keep speed addicts happy, but also varies it enough to not sound monotonous throughout the whole album.

Apart from the incredible lyrics, awesome vocals and tight drumwork, the guitar solos are another thing that makes this album so awesome. Ryan Knight is one of the most talented American shredders at present and it shows on this album. His solos sound evil, which fits with the band’s sound like a charm. They are fast, creative and catchy (not to mention technical). Some solos that really stand out feature on the songs “On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood”, “Conspiring With The Damned”, “The Window” and “Carbonized In Cruciform”. These solos are not just fast, but also convey meaning by truly progressing the songs.

Overall, Ritual is a well crafted album, filled with great ideas and perfect execution. The Black Dahlia Murder prove that they are an ever-evolving band with this album, while staying true to their roots that made them stand out in the first place. It is a good choice as an introduction point to The Black Dahlia Murder’s music and truly deserves respect.

Standout songs: “A Shrine To Madness”, “Moonlight Equilibrium”, “The Window”, “Carbonized In Cruciform” and “Den Of The Picquerist”.

Really? - 60%

Slasher666, March 21st, 2013

I am a huge fan of The Black Dahlia Murder. I enjoyed their albums, from "Unhallowed" to "Deflorate", the Michigan boys have been fairly successful and have made a big name for themselves in the metal industry. Now, Ritual has been their latest installment and I'm going to say right off the bat: is this how they live up to their name? It sounds okay (because there are a few songs that really pack a punch), but there are so many things that make this album weak. The sound, on the most part, sounds completely different from their previous installment, Deflorate, and doesn't impress, for me anyway.

What makes this album sound so off anyway? I found that everything sounded really quiet, or weak. This album sounded nothing like "Miasma," "Nocturnal" or "Deflorate," instead everything sounded very off-putting. It seemed as if the band put little to no effort in as they did with the other albums listed above. The vocals sound dry and snuffed out by the instruments and if not that then it is clearly the other way around. The content sounds out of place, some parts sound dry and some riff structure sounds weak and necessary. This album does have some upsides like having some riffs that are actually quite fluid and songs like "Den of the Piquerist" sound really good. Other than that, there's nothing more to say about "Ritual," it's just a clusterfuck of good and bad things mixed into one giant album.

For the musical component, it sounds like the average TBDM, but there's less intensity. Sure, you'll hear the typical melodic guitar tunes and fantastic drum beats to go with it but I couldn't help but feel that they have taken a step down musically compared to their previous album. Maybe its just me but I felt like all the instruments were too quiet for me, they didn't pack that "umph" into this instalment which is quite a shame. Basically, this album isn't as powerful as I thought it would be. You would think that after something like "Deflorate" you would expect the band to improve, to take the next step up. It's hard to explain as to what's wrong with this piece, I personally think the music sounds like it lacks effort or creativity. It's what you'd expect, meaning there's no originality, plus it sounds weaker than any of their previous work.

This album doesn't suck, it's just not that good. I would prefer listening to their other work compared to this. To sum it up, I would like it if this album actually had a little bit more effort instead of just being thrown out there. In other words: they could have done better with the album in general. Time is key. Considering that this album is half-baked I could only give it a C+ for it, they tried, but didn't try hard enough.

Long live the kings - 86%

GuardAwakening, January 30th, 2013

It's incredible, most bands these days that peak into about their fifth album are already long washed up out in terms of their talent and what fans want to hear, which is usually conductive of multiple things: the band selling out, the members getting too old, the members seeking a different sound/style or rapid lineup changes in the band. But in the case of The Black Dahlia Murder, the only actual sound change they had all these years could only lie in their first demos or so which may have had a metalcore sound which was immediately dropped as soon as their outstanding 2003 debut Unhallowed was put out. TBDM seeked a very innovative style of melodic death metal, which isn't so much melodic death metal in the case of In Flames or Dark Tranquility but better to describe; death metal that happens to have melody but still strongly forced upon with the a majority aggressive statistics that make death metal what it is.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm totally aware when TBDM released Unhallowed they were widely considered a big rip-off of At the Gates, but since then and many albums later, the band has seemed to have pioneered their own style of death metal which even has younger bands ripping them off left and right.

Ritual is something mildly different from the rest of the TBDM discography pack, we see symphonic passages, vocal breaks, new riffs and even better solos. Ryan Knight's playing on this album is superb and I can only sum it up by saying that he pretty much stars in this album. He saves mediocrity by letting the band have new sounds that they haven't had their fans experiencing before; check out bends on "Moonlight Equilibrium" or the harmonics on "The Window". While it is sad that this is drummer Shannon Lucas' final album with the band (who announced his departure in 2012), it is safe to say he went out with a bang with this album. Although I always saw his playing more than just being a blast beat rally, his "ultra fast" blasts and double bass kicks shine on this record almost as if you're hearing Nocturnal for the first time. Lucas is a spectacular drummer. In some senses, I see his leaving for the better since I think he did even greater with his time in All That Remains which showed more technique than just blast beat playing, but in others cases, it leaves me wondering if his replacement Alan Cassidy is capable of filling his shoes, especially after hearing this record.

Now as for vocals, that's kind of where this album falls short. The vocals are little different to exactly the same as they were on every record post-Unhallowed. Strnad's range is incredible, but with little to not variation throughout the years makes me ponder if he'll ever seek out a new sound for his throat. Some songs such as "On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood" use differed variation (a lot more growling than shrieking), but above all, his shrieking sounds just as it has for years and is practically a trademark of TBDM sound. Maybe eventually he'll desire something new, but by the time it's gotten to this record, it just simply felt like a change or mild different wouldn't have hurt.

For twelve songs, you're getting the long usual formula of these mid-eastern death metal men, and while this album may be their most recent one and it is great, I wouldn't call it their best (maybe their second best). Above all, if you're just starting out on listening to The Black Dahlia Murder, I would recommend this record or Nocturnal for any new and upcoming fans.

Best songs: "The Window", "On Stirring Seas of Blood", "Malenchanments of the Necrosphere", "Conspiring with the Damned", "Moonlight Equilibrium"

Don't judge a book by its cover - 92%

broomybroomybroomy, October 22nd, 2012

The Black Dahlia Murder is a band that I ignored for years because of their mouthful of a band name, pretty boy haircuts, and their neon vomit t-shirts. I wrote them off as just another generic metalcore band without giving them a single listen. After one of my metal enthusiast friends recommended this to me, I decided to just give it a chance. I was told that this wasn't a metalcore band; this was a melodic death metal band. I tried to listen to them in chronological order, and I was pleasantly surprised. Although they had a few elements of metalcore, I believed that they were primarly melodeath. Bands like Light This City have been able to manage that delicate balance without sounding awful. The albums seemed to get better as time went on, shedding off a little more "core" each time. Things started to get seriously good after Nocturnal. Then I listened to this one, and I have concluded that they have hit their stride and reached full maturity.

This album is the pinnacle of The Black Dahila Murder's career. This makes them a melodic death metal band as good as At the Gates or Kalmah, in my opinion. They recruited ex-Arsis guitarist Ryan Knight to write the guitar riffs for the last album, and after a little bit of musical development, they have been upgraded from "good" to "awesome." Their guitar riffs are of unbelievable quality-- brutal, groovy, and creative. It seems like most of the verses sound like traditional death metal, and the choruses are melodic. The drums are equally well-done; they give us enough blast beats and double kicks to please the metalheads, but deviating enough so it doesn't sound formulaic. Trevor Strnad alternates equally between low gutturals and high shrieks, and he has shown more range on this album than he ever has. The lyrics are equally amazing and shows that Strnad can write vivid poetry just as well.

The album kicks off with A Shrine to Madness. It begins with an orchestral introduction, and the guitars and drum fills crescendo into frantic tremolo picking and blast beats. Carbonized in Cruciform, which has an acoustic intro, begins so softly that you have to crank up the volume to hear it, and you'll jump out of your skin as soon as the distorted guitars blare in your speakers. Great Burning Nullifier is probably the most hilariously veiled song about getting high, and it's probably my favorite on the album. The slide right before the guitar solo gives me chills every time I hear it. This album has it all, even a song that sounds somewhat punk rock in Den of the Picaresque. Variety is important in a genre that can get monotonous if done incorrectly, but every track is entirely different from the last. There are a few stale riffs here and there, but they are just minor imperfections in an album that is ultimately awesome.

The Black Dahlia Murder has officially made me a fan.

Welcome to the major leagues, you've earned it. - 95%

tshred666, June 28th, 2012

Piss in my anus and call me a whore, what has just happened? This is an occurrence almost as rare as a total solar eclipse. A modern band smashing apart current boundaries and going against the nauseating metalcore grain. Where in past albums they falter, here they exceed my expectations.

In the past, The Black Dahlia Murder were held back by circular song structure and lack of full-blown technicality. While on Nocturnal and Deflorate they were content to stick with re-hashing Miasma with better drumming, here they actually branch out and combine the technicality and sheen of the current "djent" scene with the sensibilities of their Gothenburg (and non-Gothenburg) forefathers and the spice of their debut. Imagine one these hip and trendy metalcore bands (say, for example, Born of Osiris) were to add in a great deal of melody and sensible song structure ala Dissection or Dark Tranquility, that's essentially what you get here. A great deal of memorable riffs and progressions with the sleek and crunchy production of modern metalcore (as to be expected with any Suecof related material). Another thing, the solos, oh my fucking god, the solos. Ryan Knight is a brilliant lead player. Some might criticize him as a purely technical player with zero soul, but I think any guitarist worth their salt would strongly disagree. He paints almost Jason Becker like melodies against a dark backdrop, much like the Amotts.

For those that want to hear an almost conservative melodeath album with modern production, you're in luck, this sucker embodies the genre past (Carcass, Dissection, At the Gates), present (Arsis, Arch Enemy), and hopefully future. Each tracks has its own identity, so it should appeal to those just opening their ears up to the wonder of melodic death metal.

mindequalsblown.net - 95%

RidgeDeadite, May 28th, 2012

When I first started getting into deathcore music, The Black Dahlia Murder was one of those top 10 bands that was popular and no one ever had anything bad to say about. I won’t say they were ever bad, I just wasn’t much of a fan of them. Well this has album changed that. Ritual is one of those mean, nasty albums that’s so good you can’t help but scowl when listening to it. Ritual isn’t a full-on deathcore album, although there are moments that have that sound. It’s more like a melodic death metal album with hardcore influences tossed in here and there.

Where to begin here… Every single track is killer; from the symphonic intro to the guitar transition that scares the piss out of you in “A Shrine To Madness” to the final onslaught upon your earhole in “Blood In The Ink,” this album is all killer and no filler.

“A Shrine To Madness” begins with a really soft symphony that feels like it’s slightly building up into the song, but when you least expect it the guitars and crash cymbals slam in and (may) startle you as much as it did to me. The drums, guitars, bass, vocals… okay everything flows very well here. As a new fan of Black Dahlia, I feel as though I will be pointing out things that every other fan already knows haha.

The guitars shred and I can best describe this as ominous death metal. The drums also tie in perfectly with everything, with versatile yet brutal playing and blast beats that don’t overshadow the guitars, which is a problem I see from time to time. The vocals alternate between lows and shrill screeches that give the whole album so much more depth. The bass stands out and can be distinguished from the guitars quite easily. I’m a sucker for bass, as I play it and always think that the bass is underrated. The guitar solo, although short, puts the point across that he isn’t anything to mess with.

“Moonlight Equilibrium” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s more metalcore than the previous track, being faster and slightly technical, but the fast progression doesn’t deviate from the opening verse, and still sounds completely new. I love the vocals and I can’t stress that enough. It’s mostly the higher-pitched vocals that just sound so evil. It’s no wonder that this was chosen as the first single for the album. The drums are on perfect timing and really keep the full momentum of the track. The guitar overlying tones provide a groove amongst the pure insanity.

“On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood” is my favorite track. People throw around the word ‘brutal’ but they really don’t know how to properly apply it. Well this is one of those songs that will appear in the definition. The drop tuning, combined with slower, heavier riffs, makes your face melt right off. Unlike “Moonlight Equilibrium,” this track pretty much just sticks with the lows instead of the highs. It doesn’t really progress too much out of the range, but that’s a good thing. I’ve listened to songs where the really juicy parts are short, such as the song “Way Beyond The Fond Old River” by Sikth. This track is like that juicy part of a song extended into its own song.

“Conspiring With The Damned” is probably the most minimalistic song on the whole album, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less compelling and captivating. The beginning is a lot like “Moonlight Equilibrium,” but the vocals alternate more and the guitars kind of use a lighter tone and aren’t just played out generically. The next verse has heavier, headbang-inducing chords that are played over and over. However, the guitar solo at the end of the track is probably the best one on the album. It’s really different and sounds like nothing that should be on a death metal song. It would best be described as a fast, progressive solo. I wish that it would have lasted longer than it did, but oh well.

I could go over this entire album track by track, but I’m pretty sure you have the overall point I’m trying to get across. I love this album and I would suggest buying the hard copy so you can own what is sure to make music history. It has everything one could ever want in a metal album. Soaring guitar solos, brutal chords, bass you can actually hear, pounding drums that are up to par with other respected drummers out there, and brutal vocals that alternate between demonic, high-pitched shrieks and lows that will convince grandmas around the world that the end has come. BUY THIS NOW!!!

Begin the Ritual of brilliant death metal. - 86%

Pr0nogo, January 13th, 2012

Death metal giants The Black Dahlia Murder have slaughtered their way through the rank and file with their past albums, the most notable of which being 2009's Deflorate and 2007's Nocturnal, and Ritual is no exception. Members of The Black Dahlia Murder have proven once again that they are head-and-shoulders above their competition and that they can stand beside the biggest names in the death metal biz.

If you're into death metal, but find something holding you back from obtaining Ritual - a problem I'd normally suggest solving by applying blunt-force head trauma via a frying pan - take into account that it's the band's fifth studio album, running for a decent time of forty-six minutes, and that the band has been able to focus all of their efforts and skills to produce this high-quality masterpiece of music. Ritual takes listeners on a journey they're not likely to forget. This record is an evolution of the band's sound in every aspect, from vocals to atmosphere.

The record's opening track, "A Shrine to Madness", begins with a soothing violin piece that leads into the controlled madness that is The Black Dahlia Murder. The first thing that struck me upon hearing the vocals for this song is that they reminded me of Jonny Davy, Job for a Cowboy's vocalist (although there is an obvious difference in audio editing between the two bands' vocals). As Trevor poured his black soul into the song, I easily caught the old Black Dahlia vibe through a myriad of riffs, shrieks, and a solo here and there, but it was obvious that something had changed. The sound seemed to come together in a way almost foreign to me - not necessarily good or bad, but merely different - and this is the major change fans of the band should recognise upon listening to this record. "Moonlight Equilibrium", the follow-up track, is the abode to many an epic guitar riff, and lightly-edited shrieks punctuate each frame of the song, making it easily one of the most memorable songs off of the album.

"Carbonized in Cruciform" and "Blood in the Ink" are by far the most ambitious tracks off of Ritual, though, and not merely because they have added atmospheric beginnings to them. They take shots at the normal Black Dahlia formula, but instead of conflicting with their existing sound, you get a whole new thing that's all kinds of epic. "Den of the Picquerist" is the album's shortened track, going in line with Deflorate's "Death Panorama" and Nocturnal's "I Worship Only What You Bleed". I wasn't a big fan of these shorter tracks in the past, as I always felt it conflicted with the rest of the album's sound, but "Den" fits this time around. "Great Burning Nullifier" lends well to the end of the album, while the aforementioned "Blood in the Ink" is a very satisfying closer, housing multiple solos for your enjoyment.

The Black Dahlia Murder has certainly evolved, but make no mistake - it's still the same band. You'll find reminders of Deflorate and the rest of the older records within the twelve tracks of Ritual, but the new content and sound they've allowed us to delve into really shows the band's dedication to make great metal music. Any fan of death, or even thrash metal, and certainly any fan of the band itself, will find this record to be easily one of the best releases of 2011.

Recommended Tracks:
1.) "A Shrine to Madness"
2.) "Moonlight Equilibrium"
3.) "Carbonized in Cruciform"
4.) "Great Burning Nullifier"
5.) "Blood in the Ink"

For the love of god... - 100%

burnoutfool, September 21st, 2011

The Black Dahlia Murder is known by many, and in recent years have actually grown to huge popularity among the metal and punk communities. Many die hard death metal fans are getting into The Black Dahlia Murder (which I honestly find great, as they are the only –core band I can stand) and more and more punks are starting to go to their shows. It’s not only broadening horizons for both communities, but it’s also bringing them back together. The last band to do that to the level The Black Dahlia Murder is was Anthrax. It could be mostly due to the tour line ups they choose. Until this tour (Ritual North American with Cannabis Corpse and All Shall Perish), they usually had a punk – or punk-ish – band on the list. I, however, think it is because of the blend of hardcore, death metal, grindcore and symphonic elements that they bring. I also think they are showing great talent, that many (including myself) enjoy. In fact, other then Unhallowed, I have all their releases. This one, however…well…

…Well, it was phenomenal.

And that’s just the start of the good things I have to say. Ritual was the first album to feature more then 10 songs and was 10 more minutes (do they have a thing for the number 10?) of their ass kicking, brutal music. I found that the album flew by, especially since every song on there sounded different from each other and they were all so great, musically. It was definitely not enough Black Dahlia, but it was still a great 45 minutes, and it was still more then enough to satisfy me.

Everyone who knows The Black Dahlia Murder knows how good of a writer that Trevor Strnad is. His lyrics are so poetically, disgustingly, beautifully written. It makes you respect him in a way that only certain people can get it from. His execution of the vocals is amazing as well. He is definitely the best frontman for this band. Discounting his live presence (which is second only to Sakis Tolis – Rotting Christ), he has a great vocal range of hitting low end growls and high ear piercing squeals – all of which are presented for your listening pleasure in each song.

The instrumentalists are a force to be reckoned with as well. From churning bluesy solos to playing jazzy chords in their verses, the guitarists bring a force of metal down upon your head.T he two guitarists feed off each other so well. They are almost as powerful as the Glenn Tipton/KK Downing combo of Judas Priest. It gets intense just to listen, much less watch. I have heard some amazing solos, but the one on “The Grave Robber’s Work” is not only written very well, but it’s fantastic and the sound is crisp. I really dig how much the bass was heard through their brutal sounds. It just flows so well. None of the instruments drown another out, which is what you get a lot of in this type of music. Usually it's either the bass or the drums that are drowned out. However, since there is none of that, you can hear the drummer hitting some intense fills.Their drummer is a fantastic drummer too, and in fact, I strive to learn to play his stuff. He’s so goddamn good, it makes me (a 10ish year veteran) cringe at how fast he can play, which isn’t as fast as Mike Suzuki (is anyone that fast?), but is still really fast.

Musically, the album flows amazingly. It hits notes that almost sound bluesy, notes that are grind-y, notes that are punky and notes that are death/black metal. It’s really a great mix, and the only thing you really wont here on here is techno influence (THANK GOD). My three favorite choruses were on “The Raven”, “Carbonized in Cruciform” and “Monlight Equilibrium”. They were just so great. It’s actually too hard to choose just one.

All in all, just get the album, will you? It’s seriously that good.

The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual - 90%

padshiyangel01, July 15th, 2011

The Black Dahlia Murder have always been labeled as the 'black sheep' of the melodeath metal family. Although mostly fitting into the genre, their music was never accepted by the veteran metalheads due to the other portion of the fanbase (namely, the scenesters). Although their previous release Deflorate was good, it was clear that new guitar-wielder Ryan Knight stuck out in the band with his technical solo-style. Now, the band are a much more cohesive unit, with Eschbach announcing the music as a 50/50 split between him and Knight.

In their 5th album Ritual the choruses are catchier like on “Moonlight Equilibrium”, the riffs are more technical, but they have certainly not forgotten their darker side, as can be seen in “On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood”, where Williams' bass is actually audible for once. Lucas is a beast on the drums, keeping things interesting while Knight weaves his way through Arsis-like solos. There is a large amount of variety in the songs, and some surprise appearances: the piano and acoustic guitar in “Carbonized In Cruciform” and strings in “Blood In The Ink” work surprisingly well in spicing up an already diverse album, while the band's bash at grindcore in “Den Of The Picquerist” is miles better than “Death Panorama” was.

Trevor Strnad has finally succumbed to a weed psychosis; there is no other way to explain the utterly insane lyrics on Ritual. “Moonlight Equilibrium” marks a return to lupine themes, when “you'll feel the pull of the moonlight equilibrium/pitch-black transmission of the soul/instincts within me rise”, whereas “The Grave Robber's Work” depicts a mischievous sense of humor with the lines “the grave robber's work is never done/it's up all night and sleep all day/the hours are shit with hell to pay”. Each song is a very distinctive ritual, from celebrating Samhain to raising a golem. Strnad vocals, often a dividing factor in the band's work, have not changed much since Deflorate, but he utilizes more of his brutal lows which should please some fans, and the shrieking highs sound more maniacal than before.

Ritual marks a shift for the first time from 10 tracks to 12, and unfortunately there are two sub-par tracks here. Coincidence or not, “Conspiring With The Damned” and “Malenchanments Of The Necrosphere” are markedly weaker tracks than the rest; the former contains a pointless slowed-down section with some spoken-word and the latter is a grooving chugfest which is then redone in better quality in “Great Burning Nullifier”. Also, although “Blood In The Ink” is a good track, it's the first time in TBDM history where the final track has not been jaw-dropping for me, and ultimately is a little unfulfilling as an album closer.

All in all, Ritual is set to truly make a name for themselves on both sides of the divide, whilst also being their most experimental and technical yet. For those who were reluctant to fully try The Black Dahlia Murder, there is no better time than now; the album feels fresh and in a new direction, one which I hope the band pursue even further next time.

Originally posted at www.mostlymetal.wordpress.com

Now this IS awesome, guys. AWESOME. - 80%

dromennolamort, June 18th, 2011

Oh, The Black Dahlia Murder… one of my favorite bands to bang my head to a hard cement wall on (and watch my forehead bleed like a river). Their official preview song “Moonlight Equilibrium” excited me (more like eargasm); it featured new elements (for them, at least) on the song and of course, it had a different overall vibe. Most of all, they sounded more like death metal and less of what a douchebag metalhead had told you: “No way man, The Black Dahlia Murder is deathcore! Like uh… chicken shit!”

If their earlier albums “Nocturnal” and “Deflorate” showed us that they’re not deathcore chicken shit, “Ritual” probably shows us (or me, at least!) their worthiness in the death metal realm. Oh, I think I’m hearing things from you like:

“Oh no La:morT… is this album another “Nocturnal”? ‘Cause “Deflorate” is!” I know, and we all know perhaps, that “Deflorate” sounds like “Nocturnal”, but “Ritual”? OH, PLEASE… get a life, boy.

And I’ll tell you why “Ritual” is on a different league compared to their previous albums, and of course to your “deathcore chicken shit”!

Just like what I said a while ago, the album has a brand new, different vibe, even though they still play their instruments like they played it before. The production crystal clear, the drums still beat like a maniac, the guitars… still have a lot of “triples” in it, and of course Trevor’s vocals. Some say it sucks balls (especially his highs) but I think otherwise. I think they’re awesome, and perhaps an iconic and a very memorable element of their songs. Besides that, he has used his lows more frequently, balancing each other’s use. Now that’s so not “Nocturnal” (wherein his highs are the main feature), right?

Remember that I said that this album sounds different than “Nocturnal” and “Deflorate”? Of course you do, though I can’t promise you that much has changed, which is actually good. If you expect them to have a radical change, are you then expecting them to play some opera? Get outta here.

”Oh no, did I hear something like, “change in The Black Dahlia Murder’s music”!? I smell the scent to sell-out road again!” You’re speaking things again. Get real.

Anyway, to start all this “different vibe’ thing, I should probably mention that “A Shrine to Madness” kicks ass. It just sounds so macabre for a TBDM song, come on! And a forty second symphonic (though faint) intro? Now that’s new from them, and to finish the album off, they also have “Blood in the Ink”, also featuring some symphonic/atmospheric elements, and fortunately, not in the intro. Come on, you listen somewhere from the middle of the song to the outro and you better hear some of that running along the music.

Of course, you can’t expect symphony and/or atmosphere again, or else we’ll have an inferior Septicflesh rip-off… only on speed. So they have other new elements in store for us listeners and especially for their fans, like…

A mid-paced death metal song!

Yeah, you heard that right, a mid-paced death metal song, which came in the form of “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood”

“Did I just hear SALTED BLOOD?!” Yes, you got that right. I know it’s utterly nothing but weirdness in six words, and also a new take on the band’s sound. They’ve done it right actually, with the growls taking on the spotlight. What a brilliant idea making straight-up death metal… TBDM style!

Probably two songs worth mentioning are “The Window” and “Carbonized in Cruciform”, since the two songs demonstrate what else but, more new elements! The first song featuring an intro a la “typical screamo song”, which maybe is a bummer to you, but don’t worry! It’s much of a song fairly reminiscent of their former stuff (like “A Grave Robber’s Work” and “Den of the Piquerist”), only more sinister (in sound, of course). And the other song, “Carbonized in Cruciform”, is the only song in this album to feature acoustic guitars (albeit little).

“Acoustic guitars in a TBDM song? SELL-OUT!” You better start listening to the song now. And hey, it also has black metal influence, at least as far as I can hear.

This album can’t be perfect, right? Uh-huh, that’s right, unfortunately, though there are only two things that destroyed my desire for more “Ritual”.

First is the part when “Conspiring with the Damned” and “Malenchanments of the Necrosphere” slowed down, in the middle of the song. It sounds nothing short of being out of place, nothing more. Second is that it has 12 tracks. You might say that at least I, as a fan, got more of The Black Dahlia Murder. Unfortunately, it’s more of an overdose to me, or even an overkill, and it just kills me. They should’ve kept the album to ten tracks, if you ask me.

In all fairness, this is much like an excellent change in the band’s sound, and the best part is, the change is not that much. I could say, since I’m trying to end the review and all, that they’ve matured as a band but that’s too much a cliché (and most likely used by 9 out of 10 douchebag album reviewers). And besides, I might add to the notion they’ve *gasp* sold out already, where in fact, they haven’t, even a bit! So if you like their previous albums, you’re gonna like this one too. If you like this kind of music that TBDM plays (read the whole review to find out), you better listen to this. Right. Now.

written for my blog, lamortisdeath.blogspot.com