With the release of “Everblack,” it seems as though the Detroit modern melodeath masters had something to prove to anybody that thought they had grown stagnant. For most of us, “Nocturnal” was that pinnacle moment when we said “Well fuck, this is awesome.” While “Deflorate” and “Ritual” were excellent albums, there was always something about “Nocturnal” that could not be topped. Upon inserting “Everblack” into my CD player it was clear that it was going to be momentous.
The album starts out with a slow, very nontraditional intro for BDM that eventually explodes with Trevor Strnads’s unmistakeable vocals and you know you’re listening to The Black Dahlia Murder. Throughout the album, guitarists Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight team up for a masterpiece as they fly through lightening speed riffs, brutal verse breakdown sections, and the ridiculous solos that we’ve come to expect from BDM.
As most fans know, the band has recently lost their drummer Shannon Lucas who was a mammoth behind the kit and idolized all over the metal world for being a top-rank drummer. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Lucas gone (let’s face it, Lucas’ drumwork on his three albums with BDM was frightening), but Alan Cassidy steps in to take the sticks and he does not disappoint. While they each have different styles, Cassidy seems like a good fit. Beloved bassist Bart Williams also has departed from the band, but Max Lavelle holds his own on the album and lays down the thick, grimy tone Williams had provided for nearly a decade.
Basically everything you’ve come to expect from a Black Dahlia Murder album is here: it’s crushing, melodic, fast paced, and unrelenting. Strnad certainly has a poetic way of writing lyrics and on “Everblack” they are as eloquently dark as ever. Undoubtedly the most pleasant surprise about this album is the soloing. It seemed like ex-Arsis guitarist Ryan Knight was still trying to find his place in the band on the past two albums, but he definitely shines here. Knight will shred your ears off on nearly every track with solos that are elaborate, beautiful, and often neo-classical.
My only real criticism of “Everblack” is that some of the tracks (particularly the opener “In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me” and “Raped in Hatred by Vines of Thorn”) are rather repetitive, but the excellent soloing breaks up the monotony. Not to mention this is The Black Dahlia Murder we are talking about: even their lackluster songs crush most of their contemporaries. I’m also slightly disappointed that Strnad tends to focus more on his low, growled vocals on this album. Strnad has always been one of my favorite vocalists in metal, but I could have done with a little more of his ear piercing highs.
Personal favorites off the album include “Map of Scars,” “Blood Mine,” “Phantom Limb Masturbation,” and “Goat of Departure.” All in all, “Everblack” is an excellent release by death metal legends who, album upon album, fail to disappoint. You can catch them on Warped Tour all summer long.