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Album Review

Given its title, any fan of Michigan's melodic death metal unit Black Dahlia Murder would think Abysmal was a logical extension of the dark, evil majesty of 2013's Everblack. Expectations be damned. Abysmal is the most intensely bright album BDM have cut in their ten-year stint at Metal Blade. While its attack often recalls the fierce, manic aggression of earlier records (Miasma, Unhallowed, etc.) there's more going on than looking back. One need listen no further than opening track "Receipt" (an anthemic part of the band's live set for some time) for evidence. Its first 20 seconds are introduced by a slightly dissonant string quartet, but the harmonized guitar riffing and speaker-shredding bassline of Max Lavell are pushed into the red by Alan Cassidy's blastbeat drums and Trevor Strnad's articulate emotional screaming. First single "Vlad, Son of the Dragon" showcases an Arsis-esque chanted group chorale, but Strnad's vocals draw power from them for a blood-curdling rage. His voice is right up in the mix, and every manic word is easily decipherable. Strnad's vocals reach another high point in "Threat Level No. 3." His speed-king screaming is nearly as fast as Cassidy's drumming and rubs against the crazy lyrical guitar runs from Ryan Knight (who is more than likely the architect of the sound on this record). The title track is another step away from the relatively straight death metal in Everblack. The hook in the chorus is monstrous, anthemic, yet more malevolent. The closest the band ever get to standard death metal is on "Stygiophobic," which is slower — save for Cassidy's drums, which play quadruple time throughout — it's the most evil-sounding track here. The various breakdowns on the album are almost always stashed in unexpected places — check "The Advent," where three quarters in; one comes up from the center of the verse and proceeds into a cool production touch that makes a backing choral section feel almost symphonic, with razor-wire guitar cutting through it all. Closer "That Cannot Die Which Eternally Is Dead" could have been a lesser band's opener. Its white-heat blaze melts melody and raw power into a single strand of BDM brand melo-death DNA — and it contains a stellar guitar solo from Knight to boot. Sonically and musically, Abysmal integrates both BDM's roots and ambitions, which are seemingly boundless. Album to album, they evolve and push at their own boundaries and those imposed by extreme music, yet they never come off sounding like anyone but themselves.

Customer Reviews


TBDM never fails to exceed my expectations, well done.

Ever Back(Black) to their roots!

This is by far the HEAVIEST of all the TBDM albums in my opinion. I agree with others that the guitar work is more pronounced in some earlier works, but this is straight ahead in your face death metal. Trevor's vocals sound great... the drums are blasting, the guitars relentless. There are so many great new albums this summer by Nile, Cattle Decapitation, even Slayer's Repentless is great with the awesome guitar work of Exodus' Gary Holt. But my two faves so far have to be Hate Eternal's Infernus, and Abysmal. If you ever liked any of TBDM's previous works this will blow your hair back and then melt your face. A MUST HAVE!!!

Promising Single Dropped

Right away I can the guitar work is more involved and around "Ritual" and "Nocturnal" level. "Everblack" had a few solid tracks but I felt overall the album was lacking in guitar progression however with "Vlad, Son of the Dragon", TBDM seem to be back in top form. My only nitpick is I felt the opera singer in the background should have said actual lyrics instead of just vocal harmonizing but it's still done tastefully. My score for this specific track is 9/10. Lets keep the ball rolling. Hail TBDM.


Formed: Detroit, MI

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Detroit's the Black Dahlia Murder, named for the infamous 1947 slaying of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, actually sounds like they should live in Scandinavia, whence originates much of the frenetic brand of death and black metal that inspires them. Formed in January 2001, the Black Dahlia Murder followed their six-song What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse demo with the four-track A Cold-Blooded Epitaph EP, which was released on their own Lovelost Records. Having already made...
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Abysmal, The Black Dahlia Murder
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