Verminous is The Black Dahlia Murder‘s ninth studio album and it’s clear that this is a band undergoing a metamorphosis. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that Verminous should be considered as a revolutionary moment in their already formidable career. As heavy as granite – whilst retaining the expected tasteful TBDM melodic sensibilities mixed with brutal yet catchy technical proficiency – this is brooding material that’s also fluent in its songwriting capability and is an album that will demand your attention.
Production and performance wise, the album mix sounds organic and full of life. It’s modern but not sterile, with an old school feel permeating throughout and each instrument is crystal clear; nothing gets buried or is muddy here. Trevor Strnad’s vocal performance is also better than ever and he delivers his most versatile performance to date; deftly ranging from throat-shredding fry screams to thunderous gutturals, often all in the same breath.
Brian Eschbach’s riffs are absolutely savage and change in a flash from shreddy thrashers to weeping chordal melodies, supporting the lead work superbly. This ensures that these songs dig themselves into your ear-hole and become engrained in your psyche with relative ease. However, perhaps the biggest compliment we can bestow on Verminous is on its exceptional lead work, lead work that is incredibly unique and sumptuously rich thanks to the sterling work of Brandon Ellis. This is not shred for the sake of shred, these solos are meticulously composed and slaved over….and boy does it show!
Standout moments come thick and fast but our current golden nuggets of melo-death include the exquisite nature of “Sunless Empire”, Strnad’s dexterous delivery on “How Very Dead” and, particularly, the thrashing, snarling At The Gates-esque immediacy of “The Wereworm’s Feast”.
This is a band renowned for their consistency and The Black Dahlia Murder have not only maintained theirs but they’ve also upped the ante in virtually every department. One thing is for sure, Verminous‘ melancholic melodies coupled with memorable solos and feral melo-death will keep us coming back to this album for quite some time. 9/10.
The Black Dahlia Murder will release Verminous via Metal Blade Records on April 17th 2020.