The Black Dahlia Murder have been a significant figure in the death metal scene for almost 20 years, and have managed to put out consistently high-quality releases. Verminous is no exception.
The album begins with lead single, ‘Verminous’, and sets an ominous tone with the sound of plague rats before leading into what will potentially become a live staple once the band begin the touring cycle. This song features everything that makes a Black Dahlia Murder song great – immense drumming, incredible dual guitar work, and the almost inhuman vocals of one of the most celebrated death metal vocalists to come from this century, Trevor Strnad.
The album continues at a consistent breakneck pace with songs like ‘Godlessly’ and ‘Child of Night’, but still has moments where it slows down and tries to include melodic moments to great effect. ‘Removal of the Oaken Stake’ and ‘Sunless Empire’ remain strong favourites for this reason, and both songs are incredibly effective at establishing a sense of dread and are just dripping in atmosphere.
Verminous is a fairly short record and only three songs exceed three minutes. However, this is a good thing as a band as technically advanced as this can get tiresome in regards to tone – especially in death metal. Yet, the album is just the right length and ends on a high note with ‘Dawn of the Rats’. The song feels like a progressive black metal track complete with samples from Tod Browning’s film “Dracula”, as well as tempo changes and a haunting outro that mirrors the intro. Perhaps this is implying that plague is cyclical and cannot be stopped, which is a horrifying prospect in these times.
Overall, Verminous sits high in The Black Dahlia Murder’s discography. It features just the right amount of variety to impress even the most jaded of death metal snobs, yet is melodic enough to potentially win over people trying to get deeper into the extreme metal genre. Even more, it could also potentially win over people on the grounds of it being lyrically reminiscent of classic horror literature and cinema.
Verminous is available 17th April via Metal Blade Records.