Perhaps one of the most highly anticipated releases of this year, The Black Dahlia Murder are proud to present their eighth studio album, Nightbringers (Metal Blade). Since their debut with Unhallowed back in 2003, the band has built an immense following, thanks to their extreme talent of melodic death metal and theatrical live shows. Fans were given a taste of what to expect with the LP’s self-titled track when it premiered over this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour. The playful and carnival-like guitar rhythm of “Nightbringers” demonstrated a hypnotic wave of darkness and grim intrigue, immediately grabbing the attention of fans. For those who love this single, or who just really love The Black Dahlia Murder’s work… Nightbringers enters the group's discography as an outstanding creation.
The record starts with “Widowmaker”, slowly building with this ominous tone and hefty bass. Then, like a lightning bolt crashing upon the earth, the track erupts into this all-out savagery of instrumentation, accompanied with a wonderfully horrifying banshee-like scream. The drum work is relentless in its constant beat down as it speeds away with the guitar. The rhythm pumps with a blood red vibrancy that flows with thickness, the vocals shifting with low gutturals to high screeches. Vocalist Trevor Strnad made an effort to inject this album with more violence in its storytelling, with one superb example being that of “Matriarch”. The song tells the story of a woman who desperately wants her own child, and upon finding a pregnant woman, stalks her until she can rip the baby from inside her. Strnad’s vocal technique continues to demonstrate a blend of fierce and poetic through the storytelling, his inflection matching that of the chaotic flow in the instrumentals. "Matriarch" focuses on hectic speeds and precision to create a moment to moment aura of anxiety in its rapid playing. Another example of Strnad's horror mastery in lyricism comes from "The Lonely Deceased", a tale about a lonesome morgue worker (with plenty of necrophilia involved). Strnad is perhaps one of the few vocalist around that is able to create a visceral feeling through his words, sending chills down the listener's spine.
The overall aura of Nightbringers is that of adrenaline and evil. Among the use of melodic death metal, and times of classic death metal, the band also tosses in some gothic flare. This isn’t used in a heavy manner, but there is this lingering feeling in the guitar work where one can sense this haunting presence. These various styles come together with great composition, allowing the album to be one of the band’s most entertaining releases. There is a standard structure behind the music that those who have been listening to the band for years will know right away. This being said, the end result is still thrilling, never staling out, and thriving with hellish delight.
“Jars” takes a lot of The Black Dahlia Murder formula, but tosses in some elements of classic death metal. The aura of metallic blast beats weave in with stellar melodies, producing a tone that honors the likes of Morbid Angel. “Kings of the Nightworld” takes the previous playfulness heard in “Nightbringers” and amps it up. The song rides like a raging whiplash, revving with energy that will cause listeners to compulsively jerk like a demonic possession. While each component of the band is on point within the song, it's really the guitar that takes center stage, thanks to its radiant blend of melody and rhythm. “Catacomb Hecatomb” spins the band’s chemistry around, taking times to slow the pacing down. These brief periods help to build upon the rest of the song’s chaos. The progression will keep things steady, just to crawl for a bit, to dropping the music into a low and bass heavy sinister depth.
Nightbringers is an incredible addition to The Black Dahlia Murder collection. Emotionally rich vocals and violent storytelling meets brilliant instrumentation that is both hectic and technical, creating a truly evil feeling record. Nightbringers makes for one of the band's best records… if not their best. It goes to show how after all these years we can always count on The Black Dahlia Murder to continue creating thrilling and horror-fueled music that always gets the blood pumping and the heads banging. The boys have surely outdone themselves in this newest entry, for Nightbringers will please all those who cherish the dark and vile.