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Thursday, December 03, 2009

CD Review: Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate

The Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate
2009 Metal Blade Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Is a bone-snapping deathspeed band like Black Dahlia Murder allowed to deviate now and then? Apparently not, since their fourth album Deflorate has met its share of harshness as much as its praise.

Despite the reasonably high charting position of Deflorate, I'm a little stunned by the random criticisms of this album, honestly. I could condone the dart-throwing if these guys scaled back their bpms to 30, drew eye-liner around their pupils and gallavanted all weepy-eyed about lost loves. What's there not to like about Deflorate, I ask?

Has Black Dahlia Murder slowed down? Hardly; only Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Emperor and maybe Keep of Kalessin could blast beat this band into oblivion. Has Black Dahlia Murder wussed out their sound? Only if you judge Deflorate by the standards of Black Eyed Peas' current electro-disco fiasco. Has Black Dahlia Murder grown as a band since their brackish 2003 debut Unhallowed? Tons.

Okay, so I'm a tad soft on these guys since my interview with howler Trevor Strnad was my very first cover story for Pit #52. Still, there's no denying Black Dahlia Murder is one of the fiercest metal units on the planet, even when luxuriating their trademark maniacal grind with a classic power metal guitar solo in the middle of the dizzying "I Will Return." The escalating intro and outro of the same song may be atypical of what Black Dahlia Murder has attempted in the past, but it's a terrific round-out to a fireball of an album which hones in on the group's core angst with snapcase precision.

Despite the loss of guitarist John Kempainen as of their red-hot previous album Nocturnal, Black Dahlia Murder misses not a lick with the addition of Ryan Knight. If anything, Black Dahlia has closed up their very few gaps on this album with the mixing graces of industry giant Jason Suecof. Every eruptive thrash pattern is on the dime and every tinny clang of Shannon Lucas' (formerly of All That Remains) ride cymbals announces Hell's opening. Every coating of shred is ridiculously-stroked. Trevor Strnad remains a pure animal on the mike with his screech-barf motifs. His throat blats are positively rhythmic on "Denounced, Disgraced," where even the harshest yelping Scandinavian death or black metaller has to give this bro his props.

All that's really changed on Deflorate is a handful of fancy-dandy adjustments to the arrangements (fielded by guitarist Brian Eschbach) to the point "Necropolis" and "A Selection Unnatural" breeze and float as much as they accelerate with brutal exhalations.

Of course, this allows for dribbles of melody to manifest, albeit in increments. They wade beneath the pounding detonation of "Christ Deformed," one of Deflorate's more tapestried songs along with the aforementioned "I Will Return."

Most of the time Deflorate is busier than Foghorn Leghorn trying to decide who to pester more: the widow hen or the hound dog. From the listener's point-of-view, Deflorate's unremitting velocity is enough to keep up with it'll require multiple listens to uncover the planted harmonies within "That Which Erodes the Most Tender of Things," "Death Panorama" and "Eyes of Thousand." They make this ear-splintering album all the more entertaining to consume by attrition.

Nocturnal was perhaps only slightly more impressive, but naysayers be damned; Deflorate is utterly badass...

Rating: ****1/2


cjk_44 said...

good review, Ray. i remain slightly partial to Nocturnal as my favorite tBDM album, but there isn't much wrong with Deflorate.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

thanks, bro, I'm likewise partial to Nocturnal, which I gave the same rating to, but this is definitely a hell of a follow-up

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