If there was a competition for the most necro sounding album title of the year, I’m pretty sure that Michigan's modern death metal masters, The Black Dahlia Murder, would be taking away the gold. The ever sinister quintet are back with album number 6 and are as brain-smashingly brutal as ever. Frontman Trevor Strnad has made ripples in the media recently with his Facebook rants about piracy, but now they hope to make a bigger impact with some quality music.
The album begins with a few seconds of heavy rain and the thunder is bought in by new boy Alan Cassidy's powerful percussion. 'In Hell is Where She Waits for Me' is everything you could want from a Black Dahlia song: a superior blend of throat-flaying screams and torturing, demonic roars and an abundance of musical genius. Each member is in the form of their lives and stand head and shoulders above their peers with seemingly effortless, jaw-dropping riffing scything its way through 'Goat of Departure' and 'Into the Everblack'. The distilled fury and hatred that flows through the album's veins is truly astonishing and the twisted tales are told through the medium of Trevor's darkly poetic lyrics. Just reading the lyrics is a joy in itself; more than a few fellow lyricists could learn a hell of a lot from his ability to paint vivid mental images of horror.
After an unrelenting aural bludgeoning, we are still shown no mercy as they pummel onto 'Raped in Hatred by Vines of Thorns' – a nod of appreciation to B-Movie masterpiece 'The Evil Dead'. The song itself has a menacingly chanted chorus that will undoubtedly summon up some pit carnage at their live shows. 'Map of Scars' is a focused strike of death metal glory – it's a regimented unit of blast beat assaults and furious, progressive riffing. Top that off with yet another elegant fretboard-scaling guitar solo and Black Dahlia show that their level of technicality can stand up to all but the most mind melting of playing. As the violence runs its course and the album draws to a close, I was left with the feeling that 'Everblack' had run right up behind the stunning 'Ritual', in terms of quality, but just failed to surpass it.
Don't get me wrong, you probably won't hear a better album from within the same sub-genre this year, but 2011's 'Ritual' was just on another another level. For me 'Everblack' is to The Black Dahlia Murder what 'Unto the Locust' was to Machine Head, in that, it's predecessor was so bloody good, it was always going to be a struggle to top it.
Having said that, 'Everblack' will still do an amazing job of kicking the shit out of your eardrums, so fear not. It may not be a career best but it will stand toe-to-toe with any release this year and still makes for essential listening.