The Black Dahlia Murder
Named after the infamous unsolved LA murder, this Michigan band are equally controversial given their comparisons in sound to the Swedish melodic death scene. However, those that love them do so with a passion and “Ritual” is, in some part, dedicated to them as well as the more obvious macabre tales of black magic, the occult and human sacrifice. Trevor Strnads vocals are decidedly more guttural although the screeches remain, and the same can be said of their Swe-death inspiration i.e. less prominent but still noticeable on tracks like ‘The Grave Robber’s Work’, ‘On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood’, and the gothic closer ‘Blood In The Ink’, complete with classical violins. This may be due to a more collaborative approach between the 2 guitarists, Brian Eschbach and Ryan Knight, to expand their sound whilst increasing the overall tightness of the band, and I haveta say it has worked grandly on this 5th album. Given The Black Dahlia Murder have been going solidly for the last 10 years, “Ritual” shows a band that have come of age, pushing themselves into more challenging territory without selling out, even as the underdogs that they seem to be.