Over the course of two decades Detroit’s The Black Dahlia Murder have become one the most consistent and respected bands of the modern death metal scene. Having taken influence from extreme metal across all continents and subgenres, the five-piece have carved out their own niche in the world of heavy music thanks to great songwriting and routinely excellent albums.
With nine full lengths worth of fantastic material, there is inevitably going to be a few underrated tracks that have been overlooked over the years, not to mention covers, bonus tunes and other oddities. Having just finished their triumphant return tour across the USA, now is a good a time as ever to go on hunt for some of the most underrated Black Dahlia Murder songs…
Burning The Hive
“Burning The Hive” has had an interesting journey during the formative stages of The Black Dahlia Murder. Originally debuting as just “The Hive” for the band’s 2001 demo What A Horrible Night To Have Curse, it was the only track from that release that was re-recorded for their first EP A Cold-Blooded Epitaph. While it’s new song-mates “Closed Casket Requiem” and “The Blackest Incarnation” eventually made it onto TBDM’s debut full-length Unhallowed, “Burning The Hive” didn’t survive proverbial pre-season cut. It’s a shame, as while it is rough and raw (especially in it’s aforementioned demo stages), it’s obvious that a lot of the traits that would serve as The Black Dahlia Murder’s musical foundations were already set in place.
Dave Goes To Hollywood
A track performed a single solitary time way back in 2008, “Dave Goes To Hollywood” comes off The Black Dahlia Murder’s sophomore release Miasma. Classic early-days Black Dahlia Murder material, “Dave…” is all classic melodic-death metal riffing and blastbeats, until a great tempo change in the bridge breaks up the lightning fast intro and ending passages. Known as “Vice Campaign” during it’s demo stages, the song’s original title is a lot more in-tune with vocalist Trevor Strnad's vivid lyrics, dealing with the perils of excessive alcohol consuming and driving. Miasma is filled with classic material, a lot of which still feature heavily in their current setlist, and the underrated “Dave Goes To Hollywood” would definitely be a great left field addition in their live show.
Eyes of Thousand
Built around a sweet Brian Eschbach riff, “Eyes of Thousand” is three minutes of fury from their somewhat underrated fourth LP Deflorate. The Black Dahlia Murder’s ode to a black widow-like spider temptress, “Eyes of Thousand” is one of the handful of tracks from Deflorate that have yet to see the live arena. It seems to get overlooked by some of the other great songs from the album, like “Necropolis” and the perennial setlist favourite “I Will Return”, but the excellent guitar work on display, especially former guitarist Ryan Knight’s neo-classical solo, makes it worth a revisit alone.
Gone But Not Forgotten
A minute and quarter of chaos, “Gone But Not Forgotten” clearly shows The Black Dahlia Murder’s grindcore passion. Having first been released as a flexi-disc single with New Noise magazine, before appearing as a bonus nugget on 2017’s Nightbringers, it’s a short and to the point tune – the front end is blasting lunacy, flying by at a death-defying pace, before the last 30 seconds moves into a two-step mosh-friendly riff. Not the first time the band have done a violent burst of a track (check out the bonus tunes released from the Abysmal album), The Black Dahlia Murder have clearly proved that they have the riffs and the intensity to stand up as a grind act.
I’ve Heard It Before
The Black Dahlia Murder have never shied away from their love and respect of classic hardcore, so it’s no surprise that they’ve covered a track from one of genres most legendary bands, Black Flag. Popping up on the album Black on Black: A Tribute to Black Flag back in 2006, their take on the early hardcore classic is somewhat close to the original, albeit with some blastbeats thrown in for good measure. Strnad’s shrieking vocals work well, and for a band that is usually air-tight and precise, this loose and raw cover version makes for an interesting brief detour in The Black Dahlia Murder’s career. And no, I literally hadn't heard this cover before.
Fittingly only released on the Japanese edition of Everblack, “Seppuku” is an excellent, no-nonsense Black Dahlia Murder song. The instrumentals are tremendous; then-new drummer Alan Cassidy flies all over his kit, it’s packed with great riffs and melodic guitar lines, and is rounded off nicely with a great Ryan Knight guitar solo. To be frank, it’s probably better than at least a couple of the songs that made the final cut on Everblack – how “Seppuku” was relegated to the obscurity of a Japan-only track is hard to justify. Perhaps it speaks of the quality of material The Black Dahlia Murder can produce that this was not considered worthy of making the album proper.
Sabre The Dog Theme
A short, fun bonus extra off of their most recent opus Verminous, “Sabre The Dog Theme” is an 78 second ode to lead guitarist Brandon Ellis’ dog. The anime-theme-esque tune is as close to power metal as The Black Dahlia Murder will ever come, with the mid tempo riff anchoring the track, while the uber-talented Ellis delivering one of his patented scorching hot guitar solos. Finding the “Sabre The Dog Theme” in the physical format is not an easy task, with it being released on a 7” single with the limited deluxe edition of Verminous, and it was also included on the CD destined only for the Japanese market. However, we can all thank frontman Trevor Strnad for uploading it on his youtube channel for all to enjoy.
Many fans have accused The Black Dahlia Murder’s seventh studio album Abysmal of missing melodic and memorable parts. While it is true that it contains some of their most straight-forwardly brutal music, “The Advent” alone proves that they had no issue basing out some highly melodic extreme metal music. The chorus is massive, with a dark yet melancholic vibe, with dancing guitars and ear-catching chords, while the rest of the track is filled with great playing and clever tempo and feel changes. Only the front half of Abysmal has been played live by the band, with even those being slowly phased out over time, making “The Advent” something of an under appreciated, forgotten classic.
This Mortal Coil
An undeniable influence on The Black Dahlia Murder’s sound and career, Carcass’ 1993 album Heartwork is for many the high-water mark of melodic death metal. The Detroit boys play their cover of “This Mortal Coil” straight, not messing with the composition, rather adding their sound and flair to the already excellent track. Interestingly, the band has actually recorded this cover on two seperate occasions – once for an exclusive flexi-disc via Decibel Magazine, with Carcass’ Jeff Walker on co-lead vocals, and then the above version for the deluxe/Japanese edition of Nightbringers. Either version is great, we went with the slightly more polished and beefy version found on Nightbringers.
To A Breathless Oblivion
Arguably The Black Dahlia Murder’s finest album, 2007’s Nocturnal is an absolute masterpiece of contemporary death metal, with one foot in the extreme and the other in the melodic. Closing with two certified rippers, “To A Breathless Oblivion” and “Warborn”, it’s the former that took a decade to be unleashed in the live setting on Nocturnal’s tenth anniversary tour. There’s a mournful, blackened vibe to the track, with it’s excellent chorus something that their multitude of Scandinavian influences would be proud of. “To A Breathless Oblivion” is a true deep album cut, with it’s only fault being that it’s competing with some of the band’s greatest material.
So there you have it – 10 deep tracks from The Black Dahlia Murder’s already-legendary career. But with so much material to choose from, there’s bound to other lesser appreciated tunes in their back catalogue. So what did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!