Album Review: The Black Dahlia Murder, Nightbringers

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

One thing you can count on when it comes to death metal, it will be nasty and hectic sounding, which at times is sweet music to my ears. Matt and I endured a lot of it, when we covered the annual Summer Slaughter tour in Anaheim, Calif., back in August. Of all the bands we saw that night, the one that stood as kings of the death metal circuit, was The Black Dahlia Murder. This five piece death metal band brings terrorizing vocals, violent storytelling, and blistering riffs to the masses of metalheads. After headlining the hellish tour, they were not done with this year. They have crafted their latest album, Nightbringers, and it is filled with their usual chaotic magic, that makes them one of America’s most beloved and commercially successful death metal bands of all time.

Frontman Trevor Strnad, is still able bring it to the extreme with his voice. It is full of rage, angst, and demonic quality. He never lets up on any of the songs with his screeches and screams. The album starts off with the horror riff of “Widowmaker,” which tells the story of a serial killer who loves what he does. Strnad is a genius storyteller, that knows how to bring a terror fantasy to life. Each song has a different tale that every hardcore comic book nerd or horror fancan sink their teeth into, like “Good As Dead,”  which is about becoming zombies, while the title track deals with ghouls attacking churchgoers. As a Christian, I have to remember that the lyrics are strictly fantasy to me, and nothing else. In other words, Strnad is a master at storytelling. Lyrically speaking, the best of the bunch was “Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake,” a twisted retelling of the Biblical story on Adam & Eve.

This album marks the debut of new lead guitarist Brandon Ellis, who just excels with some finger-blistering solos. If there was any doubt of anybody matching  lead guitarist Ryan Knight’s speed and ferocity, then fret not, for Ellis is the perfect replacement to help carry the torch of extreme metal. From “Matriarch” to “Kings of the Nightworld,” both Ellis and rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach laid down some real gnarly licks, that will make the hairs on your arms and legs stand straight up. Drummer Alan Cassidy is a speed demon behind the kit, rapidly nailing the snares and bass drums. His best drumming comes off of “Catacomb of Hecatomb.” Bassist Max Lavelle lasers through the tunes, with his vociferous notes, especially in the closing track, “The Lonely Deceased.” As extreme as they are, the closer brings the record to a full melodic circle.

Sadistic writing, frenzied musicianship, and deafening vocals are how I describe this death metal masterpiece. Nightbringers brings out the best in The Black Dahlia Murder, as I would say this is their best stuff since 2007’s Nocturnal. Ellis is great addition to the group, who brings new energy. After 16 years and 8 albums (this being #8), it is reassuring to know that they still know how to craft a stellar extreme record. In fact, I feel that this album is one of the main reasons why they played Knotfest this year. I look forward to hearing these played live. To The Black Dahlia Murder, I salute you. Horns up!!! 10/10

1. Widowmaker
2. Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake
3. Matriarch
4. Nightbringers
5. Jars
6. Kings of the Nightworld
7. Catacomb Hecatomb
8. As Good as Dead
9. The Lonely Deceased

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