Album Review: The Black Dahlia Murder, Verminous

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

I know what everybody is thinking, and believe me, I think about it all the time as well. When the fuck will this “safer at home” quarantine end? I am sure all you metalheads would agree with me; we are aching to head back into the clubs, bang our heads to loud guitars and drums, and mosh pit the hell out of the place. If there is a group out there who can help kick start that chaotic feeling once this is all over, it would be The Black Dahlia Murder. I am craving their vulgar, melodic death metal beat and their snarling, beastly attitude that have made them a household name in the heavy metal world for nearly 20 years. While we honker down, TBDM has graced us with their newest album hoping to ignite the passion in our souls. They call it Verminous, a fine title for a record that is filled glorified wretchedness. So, let us all sanitize our minds & ears, and enter in The Black Dahlia Murder’s latest madhouse.

The dripping of water and screeching of rats introduce us to the self-titled song, “Verminous.” Alan Cassidy accelerates on the gas pedal with his swift drumming. Frontman Trevor Strnad gives us a guttural vocal style that only a mother could love. The song deals with the wretchedness of a pandemic, a fitting start that indirectly describes our situation right now. “Godlessly” marches us through the violence and sickness of the world. Lead guitarist Brandon Ellis sears an intense solo that matches rhythm player Brian Eschbach’s frightful riffs. Strnad leads the march, and like the children being led by the Pied Piper, we follow the sweet and deadly melodies. Next up is “Removal of the Oaken Stake,” where I am head-over-heals for the rhythmic punch Eschbach creates. The plague-soaked lyrics washes all around me while I take in the cleverly crafted words. Bassist Max Lavelle brings a solid boom with the surcharge of his weapon in hand. “Child of Night” is a pleasure-dome for any death metal loyalist out there. The 2 things that stood out about this song was Ellis’ melancholy style solo that is righteous enough to be heard in arenas and Strnad’s demonic possessed vocal range. From low growl to high scream, nobody messes with him. We have reached the halfway point with “Sunless Empire.” The Black Dahlia Murder pay homage to the 90s era of death metal with their harmonious riffs. Ellis gives the album another epic solo that would rival the 80s hair metal scene. Haven bitten into Verminous with extreme aggression, I gnarl at my teeth wanting more.

“The Leather Apron’s Scorn” is a love letter to notorious Victorian era serial killer Jack the Ripper. Terror and blood runs through the streets of London, and The Black Dahlia Murder is our tour guide. While the riffs are astounding, I feel that the lyrics are little bland and too predictable. It is not a bad song in any form, but it just does not live up to the group’s usual standards. We come to “How Very Dead,” a doom-infused number that better crafted. Strnad is a sinister while subtle in his singing style, acting like someone to gain one’s trust and then go in for the kill. The wailing crashes on Cassidy’s drum kit is enthralling to my ears, and they blend in nicely with Ellis’ flaming solo. “How Very Dead” makes feel very alive. The speediness of “The Wereworm’s Feast” hurls down the track. The rage and velocity in Strnad’s voice is unparalleled. He is one postal motherfucker who will cut you down where you stand. With Eschbach’s ripping licks and Ellis’ flesh-shredding solo, the wereworm reigns dominate. After a short, dark interlude in the acoustical “A Womb in Dark Chrysalis,” we reached the ending point with “Dawn of Rats.” The intensity in the blast beats that Cassidy and Lavelle give off throws me against the wall with such force. An homage to the sewer rats (I think), Strnad hollers the sweet tale of their tasty revenge. Vile to the very last string struck by both Ellis and Eschbach, with the rats squeaking with joy as they feast.

A gloriously wretched record Verminous truly is. The Black Dahlia Murder have been around for so long, and they have yet pull back from their murderous metal wrath. I thought they had truly peaked with 2017’s Nightbringers, but they just keep increasing their tenacity. Though they made this album before this “pandemic” bullshit hit, it is truly fitting for us metalheads to listen to while under the government’s thumb (LOL). Once this lifts, TBDM will be out in full lethal swing, and I will be there to cheer on the vermin overlords. To The Black Dahlia Murder, I salute you. Horns up, and wash your freaking hands!!!

9/10

Track Listing:

01. Verminous
02. Godlessly
03. Removal of the Oaken Stake
04. Child of Night
05. Sunless Empire
06. The Leather Apron’s Scorn
07. How Very Dead
08. The Wereworm’s Feast
09. A Womb in Dark Chrysalis (Interlude)
10. Dawn of Rats

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