Reviews The Black Dahlia Murder Nocturnal

The Black Dahlia Murder


I cannot think of another record label that could have released The Black Dahlia Murder’s new full-length Nocturnal. Sure, any number of labels could have released it financially, but it just would have seemed out of place. This is a metal album from start to finish, so it only makes sense for it to be released by the label that has brought us the best metal for over twenty-five years - Metal Blade Records.

Nocturnal is The Black Dahlia Murder’s third full-length release, and their fifth overall release. Since their debut EP back in 2001, The Black Dahlia Murder has been concocting a menacing and visceral amalgamation of speeding thrash and death metal. Their latest offering, Nocturnal, is no different. “Everything Went Black” thrusts things into motion with the scorching guitar work of John Kempainen and Brian Eschbach and pummeling drumwork of newcomer Shannon Lucas (formerly of All that Remains). One thing that is immediately evident is vocalist Trevor Strnad’s less frequent use of growling vocals. On the band’s previous releases Strnad made more use of the deep growls, which gave the album less of a metal feel and more of a hardcore vibe. This time around, he mostly delivers his vocals in a high-pitched scream, a style that is widely recognized throughout classic black metal.

“What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse,” a song-titled borrowed from their debut EP, continues the assault with more slaying metal. The song demonstrates their influence from the melodic death metal of the Gothenburg scene. The music is very straightforward with a mixture of shredding guitars and harmonized riffing and undeniably punishing double-bass putting to shame other so-called metal bands.

“Virally Yours” sees the band accenting their typical sound with flares of different influences. The song features a short guitar solo mid-way through the song. Unfortunately, the next three tracks see the band using the same type of solo in practically identical spots in the songs. I understand the need to throw in a guitar solo to suggest that you’re a guitar virtuoso and perhaps the next John Petrucci, but come on. At least mix it up a bit.

The Black Dahlia Murder has continually received flack for being nothing more than an At the Gates knock-off, and while there are obvious signs of influences on this and their other albums, I always felt this to be a slight injustice. Sure, there are still some of the harmonized guitar sounds used by At the Gates and their cohorts, but a lot of bands used that guitar style. Outside of a few minor variations in songwriting, the band stick to what they know and do it with great skill.

The artwork of the entire album is very fitting with the music contained within. The cover, done by Kristian Whalin, brought to mind the castle Minas Morgul from Lord of the Rings. Seriously, look at the two, they’re almost identical. This had me stoked, because Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. Also pasted throughout the layout are rather played out upside down pentagrams, which we all know symbolize Satan

Nocturnal will likely be one of the top rated metal albums of the year, and with good reason. But when ranking it with their previous efforts and the critically acclaimed metal albums of all time, it just doesn’t hold its ground. If you’re a metalhead, grab this; the headbanging will be endless.

7.0 / 10Michael
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7.0 / 10

7.0 / 10

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