Horror of Horrors: The Black Dahlia Murder
Welcome back my minions of the night! I of course, am your gentleman caller, your brutal mauler, and all around bringer of the fall—-er…Arthur Harkness! Today I bring to you something that is very special to me, and the namesake of this column, a look at The Black Dahlia Murder! Hailing from Detroit, these men have injected metal boners born of pure horrifying madness and hatred directly into your ears and have crafted a style of music that is made less to offend, and more to terrify. I am sure Satan himself throws on “Nocturnal” when he is banging hellish ladies and whatever else he can fit himself into. If by the end of this article you are not listening to BDM, then you do not know what you are missing. Let’s fucking do this.
Forming in 2000 in Detroit, the Black Dahlia Murder took their name from the 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, which right off the bat should let you know what kind of creature we are dealing with here. Their first album, titled Unhallowed, was released and a musical abomination of the greatest sort was released. Following themes of autopsy recordings, the album opens up with a very creepy rendition of an autopsy being performed. It sets a rather jarring pace and ambience for the record in terms of knowing that this is not going to be some standard love affair or broken family style of record. It is not filled with the general standard musicians beat, and I love them for it. From the opening riff of “Funeral Thirst”, to the closing on “Apex”, each song feels like an homage to horrible doctors and psychopaths who take advantage of people while they are most vulnerable. They are surgically precise in terms of actual style and the mix of downright terrible things and slightly enamoring situations. They prey on the fact that while we are at our most vulnerable, that is the time when the most fucked up and perverse things can happen. I fucking love it beyond words. This album really just shows what sort of monster these guys can be, and forges a new standard in terms of just absolutely beautiful lyrics by Trevor Strnad. He doesn’t just come up with words to fit the music, he comes up with short stories for each one. Each song is beyond just a song, it is a telling of terrible things and those who deal with it or enact it. Listen to “Closed Casket Requiem” and tell me it’s not a bitter telling of a lost relationship. Being the standout track , Closed Casket really just shows what they can do, and that they are willing to do it.
“ Miasma” is the second album released by BDM and settled down into our ear canals in 2005. Being of a slightly more ambitious tone, this album ups the evil but also adds a bit of humor to their sound with tracks such as “Statutory Ape” and “I’m Charming”, but still lays down darker images in “Miscarriage” and “Spite Suicide”. This album was the first one I purchased, before I had really any clue who they were. I was initially skeptical, but went with it anyway. I was glad I did as I was introduced to a track titled “Miasma” which in my opinion, is one of the best metal songs ever written. The cry of Vampire Youth in the chorus sends chills down my spine, and makes me want to drink blood directly out of a goblet made from the remnants of a desecrated corpse. It’s an amazing work and sophomore albums are usually where a band is made or broken. Luckily, this album exceeded expectations and made them a standard on all of my playlists.
Now before I go into this next album, I would just like to say that within the years between discovering BDM and broadening my metal tastes in general, Black Dahlia has stayed at the forefront of my musical choices. Something about the sound they create is just so addicting that it is borderline offensive. I did not know what I would be getting into, but I was in for the long haul. Then “Nocturnal” was released, and my mind was fucking blown like the biggest dick on earth. I was shocked at the quality of this record, and every track has something that anyone can find appealing. The title track has some of the most eloquent and brutal lyrics you will ever be able to find, and it brings with it a sense of overwhelming dread. It also opened my eyes to something I did not notice before. The Black Dahlia Murder loves Castlevania, and I love Castlevania. It is not something that is easily captured, but if you have played the games and know what they are about, you can find little snippets and lines from the games. “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse” is one of the meanest tracks I have ever heard, and also one of the lines from the great Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. If you have not played that game, go do it now, and blast some BDM to make it even better. For this album, I will have to admit that all of the tracks are standout and the album is considered their best, which is understandable. I will agree, mainly because it’s a true statement. This album is made from the corrupted remains of an angel, who has now returned to slaughter your ear canals with brutality and fire. It’s an aural assault that makes sure you remember them at the end of everything. And I promise, I am not dating any of them or sucking any of them off, I am merely just a huge fan.
“Deflorate” was the next album released by the BDM, and this one is somewhat of a black sheep to the rest of their catalog. Not many people liked this album stating how the new guitarist, Ryan Knight, formerly of Arsis (a fucking killer band in their own right) was not fitting in well with the band. I must disagree. This album was just slightly different than usual because it was a new step they were taking, and I appreciated it. Trevor, who’s voice has been becoming more and more fucking evil and dark over the years, screams for you to listen and heed his words. In the track “Black Valor”, he speaks of a war fought between angels and demons, and the demons finally have their day. They crush the supposed fabled Christ, and I find it so enamoring that they can do something that sacrilegious with such style and flair. If you are going to go big, might as well go really big , huh?
The next release, which was relatively recent, was “Ritual” and ladies and gentlemen, this album is seriously the fucking tits. An amazingly themed album consisting of ritual sacrifice, sex magick, and drenched in the occult, it also boasts another hidden Castlevania quote in the track titled “A Shrine to Madness”. “Let us go out this evening for pleasure, while the night is still young” is a scrawling of words scribbled into the Castlevania mythos concerning Dracula, and really just goes to show how much they love the game. Tracks such as “Malenchantments of the Necrosphere” and “Moonlight Equilibrium “ also support the album in terms of wonderful subject matter and making me feel more like a nerd for actually getting the references and mentally picturing them calling forth the denizens of darkness from their enchanted dark tower. This album seemed to be a more return to form for the band. Going through some more roster changes, the somewhat new line up churned out a beast of a record, and before you knew it, they announced a new album titled “Everblack” which was released this past week. I picked it up, threw it into the player, and I was hit with something I did not think was possible. Trevor’s fucking vocals got even more evil. I simply do not understand how that was able to be accomplished. They have also become steadily more dark in theme and sound, which is something I do not hate at all. It shows progression and stability in their sound, and the fact that they are willing to go full force into that good night. I appreciate them for staying true to themselves, and not forcing upon us a new style of record that nobody really wants…I am speaking directly to you members of The Faceless. I love you guys, but Autotheist is not that good. I request no more clean vocals, although I understand why you did it. That doesn’t mean I have to like it though.
I honestly cannot say enough good things about The Black Dahlia Murder. They have progressed so far in terms of where they are now compared to their first album. Between roster changes, which normally spells doom for most bands, heavier music and darker themes, they have solidified their place in my blackened heart as a mainstay of my collection. I had the pleasure of meeting Trevor and Shannon a while ago at The Palladium in Worcester, and they are some of the coolest people I have ever met. Not ones to shy away from having a beer with some buddies and fans, they seem to always have fun while playing and on the road. It’s amazingly awesome to see them enjoy what they do so much, even if it comes with just a little bit of heartburn. Till next week geeks! Keep your Trevor arm throwing, and make sure to have your wits about you, because tonight would be a Horrible Night to Have A Curse.
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