The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous – Album Review

TheBlackDahliaMurder-Verminous

Artist: Black Dahlia Murder

Album Title: Verminous

Label: Metal Blade Records

Date of Release: 17 April 2020

Regardless of whether or not you love a specific sub-genre of music, there will always be a band or three that are exceptions to the rule; bands that, for some reason, just don’t float your boat or get you excited. As many of you must know by now, I am a big fan of the melodic death metal genre, having discovered In Flames around the time of ‘The Jester Race’ before the turn of the millennium. Since then, I have taken the likes of Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates and Omnium Gatherum to my heart, considering each of them essential pillars within my collection.

Yet, despite an adoration of this type of music, I have never warmed to The Black Dahlia Murder. In their early days, the dreaded word ‘metalcore’ was uttered in the same sentence as the band’s name, so this may have subconsciously played a part at the outset. However, I still listened and realised pretty swiftly that the metalcore tag was largely misplaced. As far as I am concerned, this is melodic death metal pure and simple, with perhaps the odd nod to other genres here and there, including thrash and just a hint of ‘core’.

Unfortunately, despite this realisation, The Black Dahlia Murder have still failed to capture my imagination. The American band, hailing from the Motown capital of Detroit, have released no fewer than eight albums in their career that has so far spanned 17 years. And yet I have none of these records in my collection. Zero. Zip. And believe me, I have a few turkeys in there.

However, being trapped under house arrest at the mercy of this sadistic virus, I felt it was time to check out the brand new record, ‘Verminous’, to see if their ninth release could finally change my opinion of The Black Dahlia Murder. After all, I don’t have much else to do currently…

I’ll start by saying that ‘Verminous’ is better than I had anticipated, but you’ll probably have detected that I am damning the album with faint praise. Sadly, that’s exactly the case dear readers because once again, I am feeling disappointed and out in the cold where this band are concerned. ‘Verminous’ is undeniably well-executed, with a level of musicianship from all corners that will have many others sobbing. However, very few of the individual tracks make enough of an impression on me to desperately want to return and listen again. I have done so out of a sense of duty rather than a compulsion to want to do so.

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At the core of the problem for me is the ‘melodic’ end of the spectrum. For me, melody may not be the ‘be all and end all’, but it is very important. It is even more vital when the whole genre has the word ‘melodic’ in it, because then I have high expectations. For my tastes, there is too much emphasis on savage attack and not enough on those all-important melodies. I fully appreciate the opposite will be true for many and the reason you might love The Black Dahlia Murder is because they are not too warm and fluffy, that they have a spiky, abrasive edge to them. Each to their own, I say.

For my money, The Black Dahlia Murder sound best on three songs in particular, namely ‘Sunless Empire’, ‘How Very Dead’, and ‘The Wereworm’s Feast’. ‘Sunless Empire’ is ushered forth by a short, quiet intro before launching into a riff that is properly engaging, with more than a hint of melody to it. It slows to provide groove in places but generally skips along at a mid-fast tempo. And the wailing lead guitar solo that emerges atop a more grandiose soundscape really catches my ear, as does the ensuing blastbeat-infused riffing. ‘How Very Dead’ is a chunky beast with more immediate melodic sensibility lurking underneath the huge riffs, whilst ‘The Wereworm’s Feast’ blends the technicality with what closely approximates a true hook within the chorus. If the entirety of the album had been a little more in this vein, I’d be talking so very differently about it.

As it is, the trend elsewhere is with more technical, thrash-imbued death metal with the occasional hint of melody coming from the depths. Some of this material is actually very good and I don’t want anyone thinking that I have gone soft now that I have officially entered my 40s. That’s not the case and therefore I can appreciate songs like the opening title track, with its thrashy, chugging central riffs and moments of machine-gun artillery drumming. I also doff my cap to the urgent, fast-paced onslaught that’s ‘Godlessly’, and the more multi-faceted ‘Child Of Night’ that blends together passages of insanely fast battery with slower parts with dual riffing undertaken with genuine aplomb. The solo that emerges is also very tasty, if a little short-lived.

‘Verminous’ has been a tricky one for me to review. Having come to it with genuinely high hopes of an epiphany, I have been left a little disappointed. It has not done enough to turn my overall opinion of The Black Dahlia Murder upside-down and it hasn’t ensured that I feverishly delve into their extensive back catalogue. And yet, I also fully understand that my opinion will not mirror many of you out there who think this band are great. So I have tried to be as constructive as I possibly can and just hope that this comes across. For the record, ‘Verminous’ is a great-sounding, extreme metal record with its roots within the melodic death metal genre. It’s just not entirely for me.

The Score of Much Metal: 70%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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