The Black Dahlia Murder : Ritual

They say :- Ritual (pron. rich-oo–uhl): An established or prescribed procedure, rite, ceremony, proceeding or service…Any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner…A prescribed code of behavior.

The Black Dahlia Murder does not exactly seem like a band that’s easily ritualized.

The face-melting Detroit quintet has made a career out of being unpredictable — as well as unhinged, unclassifiable and unrepentant, all in the best possible ways. But with RITUAL, its fifth full-length album, the extreme metal troupe found fertile territory in the wide world of those prescribed practices that would seem verboten to a band that’s always marched to the double-time beat of its own drummer. And in doing so it’s come up with what frontman Trevor Strnad considers “the most focused Black Dahlia Murder strike of all time.”

We Say :- Let’s cut straight to the chase: there is nothing understated or unassuming about The Black Dahlia Murder. If you are looking for quiet, introspective music then you’d better look somewhere else. Their take on melodic death metal may not find a warm welcome in every home but, on Ritual, the latest album from the Michigan madmen, they have set out a pretty formidable stall- it is an exemplary exercise in precision metal from start to finish.

The album sets off at a blistering pace and doesn’t let up for a nanosecond; it’s a thrilling and, often, exhausting, listen. However, after it has finished launching its aural delights at you,  you want to do one of two things-  put it on again or, ahem, put it on again. From the opening strains of A Shrine to Madness through the dedicated brutality of The Window and to the evocative and atmospheric Blood in the Ink, this is slab after slab of inventive, passionate and hugely invigorating music.

Den of the Picquerist sounds like Nuclear Assault in a particularly bad mood; The Grave Robber’s Work has you scratching your head at how they can play so ridiculously fast but maintain a structure and a coherence to the entire enterprise- its very, very impressive. Right across the album, the playing is laser sharp- the song writing incisive and, at times, positively forensic. Take On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood for example: it has some brilliant guitar playing- both in terms of the dark riffing and the solo flourishes- this is a group completely on top of their game and revelling in the menace and mayhem that their songs create. Likewise on Moonlight Equilibrium, the entire band seem intent on throwing down a proverbial gauntlet to all naysayers- this is the sound of the performance bar being raised. And then some.

Notwithstanding the musical prowess, the star of this particular show is the incredible vocal performance put in by Trevor Strnad. From piercing shriek through melodious passage and down into guttural howl, his vocal gymnastics are extraordinary and the dark core of this record.

The Black Dahlia Murder could never be accused of doing things by half- on Ritual, you don’t just get the kitchen sink thrown at you, you get the whole goddamn kitchen. Ritual is an exhilarating fairground ride of an album- but more demonic cage ride than roller coaster. There is something deeply endearing about them too-how can you not love a band who call a song Malenchantments of the Necrosphere? It’s true, you know: they are not your usual death metal fare. Long may it remain so. Pretty darn brilliant, as it goes.