The Black Dahlia Murder, ‘Nightbringers’ – Album Review
When it comes to melodic death metal bands, The Black Dahlia Murder have established themselves as one of the genre's most successful and well-known groups. They do it without the clean vocals utilized by many other melodeath bands, delivering nothing but growls and screams from Trevor Strnad. Nightbringers is their eighth studio effort.
The album gets off to an impressive start with “Widowmaker,” opening with a cinematic intro before the devastation kicks in with blastbeats and aggressive vocals. The oppressive heaviness eases up for a blazing guitar solo, then the pummeling resumes anew. In addition to veteran axeman Brian Eschbach, this album is the debut of new guitarist Brandon Ellis (Arsis, Cannabis Corpse).
"He's very professional for his age, I think he's skilled far beyond his years, and his live energy is exceptional,” Strnad says. “When Max (Lavelle, bass) joined the band he challenged a lot of us on stage to raise our personal bar, and Brandon's pushed that even further.”
While the band feels comfortable in skull-crushing mode, they are equally adept in amping up the melody and groove on songs such as the title track, which also includes a memorable guitar solo. One of the catchiest tracks is “Kings of the Nightworld,” whose melodic riffs and fills are contrasted by the intense vocals.
The vocals are intense throughout, and the lyrics are not for the weak of heart or stomach, either. "I felt I needed to rise to the occasion to make as much of the blood and guts and heinousness as possible, and there was actually a couple of points where I rewrote some songs,”. Strnad reveals. “I just didn't feel like they were dark enough, or violent enough, so I was really trying to ramp up the monstrous aspects of things - the grizzlier the better!"
The band really hits their stride on the last part of the album, with the ominous “Catacomb Hecatomb,” the rifftastic and thrash influenced “As Good as Dead” and somber closer “The Lonely Deceased” that includes a brief acoustic section. At 33 minutes, they leave the audience wanting more, which is what all good entertainers do.
Nightbringers delivers all the heaviness, extremity and brutality fans of the Black Dahlia Murder have come to expect along with ample melody and first rate musicianship. It's both punishing and engaging, an impressive combination.