The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous (2020) – Review

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Alright. This is one of these days where this confinement thing demands some real metal. Down, dirty, and speedy it needs to be. So, back down into RMR’s vast music collection we reached to find that perfect record for the cause. And the winner is Verminous from The Black Dahlia Murder.

The record really boasts all of the above attributes. It also sounds insanely like Dani Filth on a rampage. Now, before you cry foul, let me tell ya that Cradle of Filth navigates way outside of Black Metal for a long time already.

And TBDM really is no band from the pit. Yet, the vocalist delivers that same breathless raspy roar. This need for speed and this urge to disguise your 200 mph Melodic Death Metal with some tremolos. Okay, you don’t get those filthy screams. But then nobody really needs those, right?

So, despite all that down-your-throat metal deluge, there’s this slight impression of déjà-vu that installs itself right away. And they shall also be forgiven for that slightly punky taste their tune disperses.

Why that is? Well, because a record of some 36 minutes only won’t really qualify as a full length worth its salt. So, either we have some punk in there or other ulterior motives. Or just a straight lack of ideas, something that was created to feed the beast and keep that ship afloat. Any artist needs roubles, many roubles, that’s for sure.

Well, luckily, Verminous does exude a certain hardcore-infused punk flavor at times. In the midst of all that thrashy metal medley on full display. And indeed, the first few tracks until Sunless Empire are all kinda cut from the same cloth. This is when you cannot but notice these stellar solos that Brandon Ellis throws our way – with some gusto.

It’s an interesting twist of an initially pretty linear, speedy metal piece that suddenly grows some balls and adds pretty sturdy and totally twisted riffs. It’s the mid-term surprise. The Leather Apron’s Scorn – for instance – spices that mix of different types of Death Metal with a truly progressive flavor.

And suddenly Verminous finds itself in non-linear territory. Something that has the taste of Fleshgod Apocalypse all over it. With a hint of Carach Angren, the savvy storytellers. In other words, you get this dialogue between Trevor Strnad‘s vocals and those sturdy guitar riffs and solos. No chorus far and wide, just a straight stony and metallic soundscape.

The Black Dahlia Murder even dare a foray into a slightly blackened territory. Not that they suddenly do Black Metal, but I enjoyed the journey into tremolo country for a short while. The record definitely morphed into a varied piece. A development we didn’t quite expect that way at the outset.

Yet, same as the Fleshgod folks, Verminous has a tendency to gripe. Often what looks pretty smooth at the outset after a first listen, turns out to be unnecessarily complex. Their tune contains a mindboggling array of elements, changes of tempi, ever-changing riffs, loads of often maiden-esque solos, and what have you.

All this is, of course, a good thing, usually. But as with any meal, if the ingredients in the recipe are overly numerous and pungently spicy, then the dinner might sit heavily in your stomach. Same with a record such as this. You very quickly develop somewhat of a sensory overload. And this will make people lose attention big time.

And that’s a pity. Because highly complex and excellent tracks like The Wereworm’s Feast are a true delight to listen to. If you have the stomach for it.

So, finally, Verminous turned out to be a surprising and surprisingly multi-faceted album. Something that starts out in such a linear fashion that the review was almost written in stone in our heads already. Not really something from the positive department. Until some 15 minutes later. This is where things get kicked up a few notches.

In the end, it’s those 36 minutes of airtime well used. The album gorges with different types of metal, a multitude of tasty riffs and solos to dream of. All of that embedded into a pretty delicately paced, yet speedy type of metal.

One that does not take any prisoners, but leaves enough melody in there to please without beating everybody in the dust with those Death Metal sledgehammers. Yet it’s got enough venom and maniac energy in there to keep you spry and interested during its definitely short tenure.

Verminous delivered a chunk of varied and highly complex metal. Something we did not think we’d enjoy that much. Well done, TBDM. Ways to go.

Record Rating: 7/10 | LabelMetal Blade Records | Web: Official Band Site
Release date: 17 April 2020

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