Published Sep 16, 2015The Black Dahlia Murder are death metal's Little Engine That Could. While many wrote them off (as metalcore, deathcore or any other subgenre) and made excuses for why they couldn't carry the genre, the Michigan band kept chugging along. After proving to themselves and the open-minded time and time again that they really could, Abysmal might be the album that turns any remaining naysayers into yea-sayers.
This time around, the band harness the spirit of the strays in their discography, the ones that didn't quite fit in with their often melodic death metal. It's still melodious, but the sharp harmonies are delivered with a blade that's slightly serrated — classic Black Dahlia songs haven't sounded this threatening since 2007's Nocturnal. Perhaps that's because, in many ways, they aren't entirely typical; this time around, they're laced with unmatched (at least in this band's case) speed, both inspired by and played by drummer Alan Cassidy, who delivers an insane performance. There's a synergy between all the instruments here and, as always, vocalist Trevor Strnad finds a way to grow his growls in new ways. The occasional line in "Vlad, Son of the Dragon" sounds like he's gurgling something, likely blood, given the subject matter. The title track's yearning main riff is painted black (metal), while nearly every track is technically melodic death metal and technically impressive.
For most bands, naming an album Abysmal would be asking for it, but the Black Dahlia Murder aren't just any band. Even the staunchest detractor would be pushing it by attempting to describe the album by its name. As for everyone else: "We knew they could, we knew they could." (Metal Blade)