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The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual

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MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.

The countdown continues today with Ritual (Metal Blade Records), the 2011 release by The Black Dahlia Murder!

The Black Dahlia Murder are one of the few bands who seemed pre-destined to appear on this list from the moment we conceived it. They’re just so well-liked (understandably so!), and their work is so consistently excellent. So it was never a question on whether or not people would vote for The Black Dahlia Murder… it was just a question of which of the band’s eligible albums they’d vote for.

So what makes Ritual stand out from the pack? Well… a few things!

For starters, it marks the end of an era, being the last album the band made with longtime members Shannon Lucas (drums) and Ryan “Bart” Williams (bass). And they both killed it here, BTW.

Additionally, even by BDM standards, Ritual includes an unusually high number of quality melodeath riffs, the kind that make you wanna smack your lips and cry out “Mm, DELICIOUS!”. Rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach has always excelled at writing insanely catchy music that sounds like orchestral horror movie scores translated into brutal death metal, but he really outdid himself on Ritual, where every second of every track is infectious and energizing. Tracks like “Moonlight Equilibrium,” “Malenchantments of the Necrosphere,” and “Great Burning Nullifyer” strike the perfect balance between ferociousness and fun, siren songs beckoning you into the pit.

But what truly sets Ritual apart from its brethren — appropriately, given its title — is its sense of grandiosity. Both its opening and closing tracks, “A Shrine to Madness” and “Blood in the Ink,” include a string section; ceremonial chanting on tracks like “A Shrine to Madness” and, especially, “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood,” practically dare you not to join in; vocalist Trevor Strnad has never sounded more monstrous and commanding; and in Ryan Knight, who made his recording debut with the band on 2009’s Deflorate, The Black Dahlia Murder finally found a lead guitarist capable of solos every bit as epic and mesmeric as Eschbach’s riffs.

The result is that Ritual feels larger-than-life, all enveloping, and, frankly, addictive, the kind of record you can pretty much leave on repeat all day and not get sick of. And like I said, it’s just really, really fun; if it were a horror movie, it would be the kind of horror movie you wanna see with a big audience that has absolutely no regard for quiet. It’s vicious and pummeling and evil and all of that shit you want in a death metal record, but it’s also a rip-roaring party album that compels listeners to rock. Or, as Gene Shalit might put it: this is one Ritual in which you’ll be happy to participate!

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:

#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)

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