This is straight-up melodic death metal, and none of the feeble shit either... Frontman Trevor Strnad’s first tattoo was inspired by Carcass’ ‘Tools Of The Trade’ cover art but his appreciation of extreme metal’s more powerful and profound voices runs deeper than the skin on his arm. The Black Dahlia Murder, for whatever reason, get slam dunked by old goats into the kiddycore crèche without pause for thought, like just because their audience is young, mosh-mobilised and the T-shirt aesthetic is hyper-coloured and intricate.
Rising above the predictable black din of contemporary death metal can be a formidable task, but Michigan-based melodic death rockers the Black Dahlia Murder manage to do just that on their fifth studio album, the relentless and rewarding Ritual. Employing a lethal mix of old-school American thrash, Scandinavian black metal, Carcass-era grindcore, and classic dual-lead power metal, Ritual roars in like a runaway train and leaves the listener in pieces. Stand-out cuts like “Moonlight Equilibrium,” “The Window,” “Carbonized in Cruciform,” and “Blood in the Ink” may borrow cues from like-minded outfits such as Protest the Hero, Unearth, and At the Gates, but the sheer stamina, unpretentious delivery, and attention to detail (pinpointed bursts of vocal flange, Iron Maiden-worthy staccato leads, and breakdowns that actually feel necessary) is pure Black Dahlia firing on all cylinders.
The Black Dahlia Murder aren't just extreme, they're practically absurd. These five goofy Michigan metalheads don’t write songs about vampires, they write about Castlevania. They don’t dedicate track to sinful decadence, they write paens to neon. Hot on the heels of 2009’s Deflorate, not to mention their hilarious Majesty DVD released earlier that year, the Black Dalia Murder have returned with another over-the-top opus, Ritual, an inexhaustible bout of melodic death metal that juggles more influences than most bands can name and balances effortlessly somewhere between Pantera, Suffocation, and Darkane.