“You will behold, Infinite bringers of the night” Indeed you will. Nightbringers, the 8th full length album from Michigan’s, The Black Dahlia Murder, certainly brings on the night and the creatures who hide amongst it. Forming in 2001 and putting out the first LP in 2003, they have since then put out a full length every other year. The band has seen a number of lineup changes over the years, but whether it’s great decision making or sheer luck, all the changes have been for the better and help move the band to the next level. Vocalist Trevor Strnad and guitarist Brian Eschbach are the only two original members remaining. Bryan has always been the mastermind behind the sound of Black Dahlia, so as long as he is around you know what the core sound will be. Nightbringers is no different, from the first song you know damn well it’s The Black Dahlia Fucking Murder assaulting your senses. In recent years the band has done tours playing Unhallowed and Nocturnal in full and it’s apparent that it bled over into the writing of Nightbringers. And from where I’m sitting, “Fuck Yeah!”
For a band that is 16 years in, I don’t think of Black Dahlia as an older band. Maybe it’s because I was in high school when they started slashing open throats, maybe it’s that they have never taken time off, maybe it’s the new blood in the band, or maybe, just maybe, it’s because the music is just as punishing as anything put out by the younger death metal bands. Nightbringers takes that idea to the next level: it’s faster, heavier, nastier, and more disgusting than anything they have have done to this point. Trevor Strnad has always had a way with words, I’ve ranted my fair share about how he is more of a poet than anything else, but this is a new level of poetic horror. This is an album the P.M.R.C. should be afraid of. The images are vividly painted and, like any good horror movie, still leave plenty of room for your imagination to run wild. What about the new music though? Can Alan Cassidy break new speed records? Can Brandon Ellis fill the shoes of Ryan Knight? Can Max Lavelle continue to set off seismographs?
The answer? Yes to all of the above. Brandon Ellis is about to become a very popular man in death metal. His solos are as tasty as anyone’s out there, and he plays with a confidence that is far beyond his years. At just 25, he has a certain something to his playing that is, dare I say it, sexy! Alan Cassidy is on his third album behind the kit and has once again stepped his game up. The speed is very much still there, but with an added technicality to it that shows he is one of the best drummers out there today. Max is, well…Max. He’s a mountain of a man who’s bass knows who is boss.
“Widowmaker” starts us off with the sound of an alien spaceship leaving its paddock for a world of humans to consume. That’s about the only aural reprieve you’re going to get for the next 33 minutes. I love the first riff here, it reminds me of 2003 and the explosion of metal/metalcore bands around that time. Other than that, this is Black Dahlia Murder 101, so get your dancing shoes on kids because when you hear “Killing is my business and at my business I excel / By silenced gun or silver blade it’s the shock on their face as I send them screaming to hell” the pit is going to explode like your 12 year old little brother eating at Hooters for the first time.
“Matriarch,” the second video single released ahead of the album, is a beautiful story of a what it must feel like to be among the infertile who can’t have children of their own: “I’ve been watching you for weeks I know what sex the child will be / I know it’s the perfect time for me to seize control in violence absolute / I vault atop my gasping victim she screams in fear for two.” You will exhaust all possible avenues to do what it takes to get that little bundle of entrails and flesh home.
“Jars” is probably the most fun song on the album. How can a song about all the jars you keep human remains in to be eaten at later date be fun you ask? Two words: Gang Vocals! “(In jars) Vessels immaculate, cylindrical, and clean / (their heads in jars) The lightless winter months have gone straight to my brain, know what I mean? / Here in my solitude, fed by my stock of dead, (preserved in jars) / Their facial features warp, defiled unto no end. Again I win.” Who doesn’t want to chant along to that while throwing a fist in the air as kids run in circles smashing into each other?
The last song I want to touch on is “As Good as Dead.” This song is everything Black Dahlia does at its best. It’s fast, it’s melodic, there are breakdowns to slam dance to, melody worthy of pretending to direct an orchestra (die hard BDM fans know what I’m talking about!) and solos that’ll make you want to break out your old air guitar.
Nightbringers kicks your head in, dances on your chest, and then sells the remains to a hot dog factory. I’m going to just stop fucking around and say it. This is the best Black Dahlia Murder album to date. The dudes deserve all the attention they are about to get worldwide. They work hard, the play hard and they are true fans. So do yourself a favor get the album, grab the lyrics sheet, and “You will behold..”
Nightbringers drops Oct 8th. Pre-Order it now from Metal Blade Records.