Someone once asked me: “What happened to the good old days where metal was completely lathered in Satan?” It appears those days are back with The Black Dahlia Murder‘s latest offering from Metal Blade, “Ritual.” Damn cretins, this is definitely going into my top five for the year. Right at jump street, this had me completely possessed. From the symphonic intro to the closing insanity of “Blood in the Ink,” this album refused to relinquish its unholy hold on me. Vocally visceral and monolithically melodic with a decimating drum and bass foundation, The Black Dahlia Murder have composed a spectacular symphony of death. This album shows them as an impenetrable phalanx, in complete unison and very well composed.
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“Ritual” starts off with a somber string introduction and then descends into calculated chaos on the opening track “A Shrine to Madness.” From there, the album consistently and aggressively attacks the listener as they break through your eardrums and assault your cortex. The structure of every song is laid out very well. The band comes together as a solid unit, letting no note go unheard or accented. “The Window” and “Malenchantments of the Necrosphere” are undaunted performances of power and prowess. This is not a recording of ego or pomp, but rather a spectacular look at the cruel and concise musicianship they wield. Just listen and you’ll know they are serious.
A few things that stood out were the use of the acoustics. While some may balk and scoff at the grandpa’s guitars, their presence was very eerie. “Carbonized in Cruciform” had a very foreboding tone to it as the acoustic brought solace before the torrential typhoon. While “Blood in the Ink” is the most heavily symphonic track, the strings did not detract from the fury of the band. I also liked the brevity of “Den of the Piquerist,” a savage song of less than two minutes. Along with that, “The Raven” is another short blaster at only 2:58.
The most prevalent thing on the disc is the immense increase in melody and harmony. Now this is not necessarily an new thing for Black Dahlia, but it definitely shows that these guys have been practicing and producing new and inventive riffs and sweeps. I wouldn’t say one member or another contributed more or less to the awesomeness of the album, but rather they all have came together and composed a dark and beautiful album. “Ritual” showcases the Black Dahlia Murder’s determination, dedication, and direction, and that direction is straight to the top of the metal legions. I highly recommend this album and as I listen to it now, I am in complete awe of these ridiculously talented individuals. Like I said before cretins, you need this in your life. Get it tuesday and revel in its deathly beauty.