Taking their name from the brutal unsolved 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short, appropriately monikered Michigan death metallers The Black Dahlia Murder unleash a slightly different kind of visceral hell on Verminous (Metal Blade), their ninth full-length studio album.
Taking a firm stride forwards, TBDM have evolved into something a little different on this new record, but doing so without losing any of their intensity or razor-sharp cutting edge. Opening with the gouging brutality of the title track, the band prove they are in no mood for fucking around as frontman Trevor Strnad hits top gear straight away, his screaming vocals matched by the slashing riffs of Brian Eschbach and Brandon Ellis. ‘Godlessly’ is a frantic blur of aggression while ‘Removal of the Oaken Stake’ is melodic and atmospheric, and features some top-class fretwork.
‘Child of Night’ opens with some punchy bass from Max Lavelle before launching into a jagged tirade of sonic punishment before the song’s more melodic aspects escape their chains toward the end. The jangling intro to ‘Sunless Empire’ gives way to stabbing, staccato verses and a bluesy middle section featuring another wonderfully fluid guitar solo.
‘The Leather Apron’s Scorn’ and ‘How Very Dead’ are suitably brutal, and presumably rather tiring for drummer Alan Cassidy, while ‘The Wereworm’s Feast’ switches tempo effortlessly and is layered with lashings of Arch Enemy and Carcass style melodies. As its title suggests, ‘A Womb in Dark Chrysalis (Interlude)’ is an acoustic intermission before the cataclysmic finale of ‘Dawn of Rats’ which manages to decimate pretty much every living thing in its path.
Melodic and atmospheric as well as punishingly vicious, Verminous is the twisted, thrashing sound of a band at the height of their game, yet with the promise of plenty more still to come.
8 / 10