Nocturnal by The Black Dahlia Murder
Release date : September 2007
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
In May 2007, the title of The Black Dahlia Murder's third studio album was revealed to be Nocturnal. Eric Rachel helmed production at New Jersey's Trax East, having previously mixed 2005's Miasma. Scheduled to take place during June, Jason Suecof (who has previously worked with the likes of Trivium, Chimaira, DevilDriver, God Forbid and Bury Your Dead) was asked to handle mixing duties. Designed by Kristian Wåhlin, the album's front cover artwork surfaced via the group's official MySpace page, with the album being slated for issue in September. During late July, the record's track listing became unveiled, and “What A Horrible Night to Have A Curse” was made available for streaming through The Black Dahlia Murder's MySpace page. Its title originally a quote within the NES console game Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (1988), “What A Horrible Night to Have A Curse” was additionally the name of the group's May 2001 EP.
Widely known to employ a brutal Metal assault, The Black Dahlia Murder proves to be a favourite amongst Metal Blade's roster. Musically speaking, the group is extremely comparable to fellow scream / Death Metal acts, though ply the trade in a just as great, if not greater, fashion.
A fiery drum pummels in the vein of a machine gun, helping to maintain the driving guitar rhythms prevalent within each respective track, and that leads into dual vocals which consist of both cryptic screams, and Death growls. Of these very qualities, Nocturnal omits none. Inaugurating the full length, “Everything Went Black” is one of a few select tracks to boast a genuine radio friendly vibe. Of Nocturnal's compositions, this number is the most musically sound, and never opts towards excessive umbrage. Clean, fluid guitar components pair themselves against splendidly balanced vocals, vocals of which undertake a magnificent breakdown chorus. Handling both screams and growls courtesy of an utmost intensity, Trevor Strnad affirms as to why he happens to be one of Death Metal's greatest vocalists. Having said that, the title cut nonetheless almost escapes from Strnad's clutches; the frontman's screams ascend to an exorbitant level, sacrificing the tune's quality. After lending contributions to that specific track, the subsequent condition of Strnad's chords is a curious thought. However, the title cut appropriately segues into “Deathmask Divine”. Thrash based, the track exhibits an amiable guitar solo breakdown. A slower paced number doesn't figure amongst Nocturnal's songs, though a breakdown seemingly prevails during each respective cut - should that breakdown happen to arrive in the guise of a guitar solo, or chorus. Illustrating a melodic Thrash medium, “What A Horrible Night to Have A Curse” paves the way for Brian Eschbach's and John Kempainen's guitars to show their musical abilities. Death growls warmly inaugurate “Warborn”, challenging Nocturnal's established vocal approach. Yet again though, screams usurp. Musically, little happens during the track. However, “Warborn” dwells amongst the album's more fluid, respectable numbers, and showcases The Black Dahlia Murder's maturity, and songwriting prowess.
Upon higher notes especially, Strnad's chords seemingly strain themselves via screams, so how much additional exertion his chords can withstand is a subject for debate. If Strnad began to pair cleaner aspects against those Death growls, The Black Dahlia Murder's vocal stylings would be sonically as great in light of the group's musical persuasion. The material's actual stylings possess few distinct qualities to differentiate the work from other Thrash / Death Metal material, so comparisons will always be drawn towards equally popular outfits. Given the material's strength however, this is a minor quibble. Since 2007, The Black Dahlia Murder's star has ascended, and Nocturnal will likely pave the way for even greater full lengths. To date, the group's vocal and musical potential hasn't been wholly fulfilled, and will continually ripen into a ferocious beast.