I’ll get this out of the way now: The Black Dahlia Murder are my favorite band of all time. Ever since I first heard the masterpiece that is Nocturnal back in 2007, I knew I’d be a fan for life. Still, I hope you’ll take me seriously when I say that the TBDM’s eighth studio album, Nightbringers, is easily the band’s best record since 2011’s Ritual.
Nightbringers starts off with your typical TBDM intro track, “Widowmaker.” The second the guitars began, I was overcome with the feeling that this record was going to be great.”Widowmaker” has all the elements of TBDM that we have come to know and love, like breakneck string-skipping and tremolo picking guitar riffs that produce the kind of evil sounds which result parental guidance stickers being slapped on the front of metal albums.
(And to top it off, vocalist Trevor Strnad told me while we were filming the death growl instructional video that “Widowmaker” is about Tim Lambesis — not about the disgraced vocalist himself, but in the sense that he tried to hire a hit man to kill his wife. I initially thought it was about the Overwatch character, so that was a very pleasant surprise. Not that I have anything against Overwatch.)
But does the quality of Nightbringers fall off after the opening track, as so many modern metal albums do? Absolutely fucking not. “Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake” has an absolutely sick riff and solo, “Matriarch” rips just as hard, and I think I’ve blasted the title track so many times that it may as well just be my theme song for the season. “Jars” is a delightfully fucked up song about storing human flesh to eat later, while”Kings of the Nightworld” has an awesome death n’ roll feel to it. It should also serve as a good lesson to lots of bands on how to use gang vocals properly.
So after all that, you’d think the album couldn’t possibly get better, right? Well, you’re wrong. The best part about this record is that it doesn’t just start strong — it finishes strong, too. Indeed, the final three tracks may represent the album’s best material. “Catacomb Hecatomb” and “As Good As Dead” both slay, but the crown jewel of this album is undoubtedly the final track, “The Lonely Deceased.” No TBDM album would be complete without a song about necrophilia, and that’s exactly what we have here. It’s melodically haunting and features some Strand’s best lyrics to date. For example…
The lonely deceased cryptic sewn mouthed their secrets
Shameful their silence dragged down to the grave
What happens on the slab dies in this morgue with me
In these four walls my grisly playground where none rest in peace
It’s hard to overstate how fucking good this album is. Nightbringers mixes the melodies of Nocturnal with the chaos of Deflorate, and the result is a record that sees the whole band somehow step their game up to a higher level than the one they already occupied.
In fact, the only gripe I have with Nightbringers is that it feels like it’s over too fast. But that’s a minor knock. I would rather have nine songs and thirty-three minutes of quality metal than thirteen songs where four are bullshit. Nightbringers is the album of the year. Any attempts to surmount it will be met with the wrath of Satan himself.
The Black Dahlia Murder’s Nightbringers drops October 6 via Metal Blade. You can pre-order it here and listen to the title track below.