Some bands will just always kind of exist in your sphere of experience, MOTORHEAD, SLIPKNOT, IRON MAIDEN, CANNIBAL CORPSE. Even if you never really give them a listen, you’ll doubtlessly be aware of them if you’ve even a passing interest in the heavier side of music.
For me, for far too long THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER were one of these bands. For ages, the most I had heard was What A Horrible Night to Have A Curse off 2007’s Nocturnal, and even then, I only found that while searching for help on how to beat an area in Castlevania. It rang a bell internally but I for some reason I just didn’t seek them out. It wasn’t until Everblack released in 2013 that I started to call myself a fan and when Nightbringers was released in 2017 I lost my mind with how good it was. It seemed that album reviewers the world over did the same, with more than one website giving it a solid ten out of ten. So, needless to say for this year’s release, Verminous, I am a suitable level of hyped up.
The personnel on this album are Trevor Strnad (Vocals), Brian Eschbach (Guitar, Vocals), Max Lavelle (Bass), Alan Cassidy (Drums) and Brandon Ellis (Lead Guitar) who are all returning from the previous album.
They open with the title track, Verminous. A drum roll, a drawn out chord and a few slowly winding notes before we kick off into the TBDM sound we all know and love. Then we are greeted with the line “Welcome unto this wretched underworld, where we the primordial slime, we live and breed” and that sets the tone for the album making it feel much more like a storybook than your typical Melodic Death Metal album. Yes, a really screwed up storybook but a storybook nonetheless. The amazing thing here is the pacing, it’s not a piece strictly for long drawn out solos but nor is it purely centered around endless tremolo picking and blast beats. To some degree it keeps you guessing even on repeat listening and from my perspective that’s an incredible feat.
Looking at the tracks in front of me I was very interested in a group of three tracks, The Wereworm’s Feast, A Womb in Dark Chrysalis (Interlude)andDawn of Rats. The Wereworm’s Feast is curious to me in that it feels almost like a waltz; in that you can imagine a group of people dancing, swirling and twirling at some sort of macabre ball before it becomes a more traditional metal song. As it fades out, A Womb in Dark Chrysalis begins that on first listening seems to be an equivalent to Voice of the Soul by Death, but much shorter and lacking the lead guitar parts and as it does forDeath. It works as a perfect spacer between the aggressive nature of the surrounding tracks. Dawn of Rats immediately follows, no fade in, no slow build, nothing. You will be given fast distorted guitars, hammering drums and solid vocals and you will like it.
In many ways this final track is a mirror to Verminous, where that decided to alternate its pace. This decided to be pretty constant all the way through at least until the last thirty seconds where chords ring out, there’s a small speech section and then the sound of running water.
And that’s Verminous, it wasn’t terrible… it was incredible! If you’re an existing fan you should definitely pick it up, if you’re curious about the band, pick it up. There will be something on this album that satiates your metal needs. And I’m going to do something I rarely do, nine out of ten for me is the most perfect album I could imagine, ten has to surpass that. Well done guys.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Verminous will be released 17th April 2020 via Metal Blade Records.
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