Monday, 4 July 2011

The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual (Review)

Cosmo over at Invisible Oranges wrote on why people choose not to listen to new music anymore. Comments combined with the original article yielded a number of common points. First, that as listeners graduate from learning institutions and begin to grapple with the work required for serious adult life, time and energy for listening for music tends to diminish. Furthermore, once listeners start building relationships and families, their commitments increase and time available for musical appreciation is further eroded as getting to concerts or finding a chance to really let rip at high volume some life affirming death metal becomes increasingly difficult. Second, as time decreases expenditures seem to increase, so everything said with regard to the above also applies for funds available to actually buy music. Third, the way we find metal in the present has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Even if one is to stay abreast of the latest social networking phenomena, Bandcamps and Myspace-alikes, this keeping in touch itself further contributes to time drain.

Nevertheless, many metal heads like myself continue to look for albums which inspire them, which transmit a thrill similar to when they were younger. Part of this is obviously nostalgia. Reliving excitement seems to be as almost as popular recreation as finding ways to do said reliving. Part of it too is that having lived so long with metal, we have seen it change, develop and evolve over the decades and these changes are always compelling . Not unlike jazz, metal means differently to whomever is asked, and so when we hear something new, something inventive, something radical that is sustained over the course of a whole album and not just a song or a soundbite the result is religious experience.

Enter, “Ritual”. Just like everyone else who pressed play on the first track, I thought, “cool, a new BDM record”. And then the second track started, then the third and fourth… These much maligned short-haired metallers show how it is done. The speed, ferocity and rhythmic devastation are all present. TBDM both “do” the zeitgeist and transcend it with their Faith No More-like ability to mesh genre. Witness the seamless segue into a Nachtmystium-esque black metal pre-chorus on “Moonlight Equilibrium” or the twisted rhythmic contortions and brutality on the Meshuggah-meets-Suffocation-meets-Morbid Angel sounding “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood”. Then there is the exquisite reprise of the opening strings refrain on “Blood in the Ink”, the way the forlorn melody blends with the rhythm and melds and informs the vocal line is truly modern metal. In fact it is the relentless incorporation of melody, memorable interludes and simply flat out consciousness-raising solos are interwoven throughout, that make this album probably the metal album of 2011. There may be “more” brutal acts out there, more “progressive” and more “melodic” ones too, but no one is putting it all together and coming up with the songs as well as TBDM.

“Ritual” is out and has an entry level priced vinyl pressing $17 or less, including postage – depending on where you live. And since it has that very groovy, Valnoir Mortsonge designed satanic/occult-tastic cover art, try giving me one reason why you should not own ritual on wax!

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