I spent a good year learning the guitar arrangements, melodies, and riffs of The Black Dahlia Murder's Metal Blade Records debut, Unhallowed. It was certainly a fun, morbid, and visceral expedition into the world of melodic death metal, a la Gothenburg, Sweden. After having seen the phenomenal live show that this band put on, including the mind-bending drumming of Zach Gibson, I had only the most supreme of expectations for Miasma, the second outing by this Michigan band on Metal Blade.
Opening with a less sinister but heavier intro track, I was immediately surprised by the technicality behind the riffs and the dense guitar tracking. Infinitely heavier than its predecessor, this album is Black Dahlia Murder in top form.
Eschewing melody for brutality, most of the 10-song album is more personal lyrically and more intense musically An album influenced by the band's two-years-plus of touring off of Unhallowed, the artwork is scenes of the Vegas night scene - sultry, sinful, and a bit disorienting - a definite reflection of the lyrics. Whereas the previous album focused much more on murder, demons, devils, possession, and human cannibalism/embalming, there are only a few songs that touch on this. However, Trevor Strnad sounds a hundred times more evil on this album, mostly because he actually means what he says!
But back to the music. Dual guitars are all over the fucking place. I love it. Single-note tremolo riffs; wickedly fast blast beats; heavy as hell breakdowns; thrash parts! This shit is great! But, the most redeeming quality of this album is that there are solos in every song! John Kempainen shreds and it's certainly a welcome addition to The Black Dahlia Murder sound. Trevor's dual vocals sound fantastic and are something that I believe separates this band from its contemporaries. My favorite moment in the CD is during "Novelty Crosses," right when Trevor's "higher" voice screams, "I'm being strangled by his statue / If only his cold eyes could weep for these things." His voice nearly cracks and it sounds 'Oh so wonderful.'
I do miss the guitar melodies, but I think it benefits the band more. They sound less like At the Gates and more like themselves. And more thrash is always good in my book.
8.0 / 10
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