Somehow before another one of their drummers exploded into a cloud of green mist The Black Dahlia Murder managed to record a new album. That's not the real shocker here though - the lack of metalcore is. Fans of the groups earlier work will surely be pleased as the direction taken on 2005's "Miasama" has been adjusted back to melodic thrash/black/death metal basics on "Nocturnal".
Still despite it backwards orientation, this is an album of surprises. For instance, while the frenetic performance from ex-All That Remains drummer Shannon Lucas helps ensure multiple fractures and bruises and the dual-guitar attack leaves the listener looking like the recipient of an undergrad autopsy; it is the songwriting and production on this album that make the most impact.
Undoubtedly invigorated, the tracks included here pack a wealth of stirring melodies and outright metallic precision into their small frames. But unlike their peers, neither the drums nor the guitar overpower each other and instead there is a nice thick meaty middle to this albums relentless onslaught. This modern sheen will have the tr00 calling for the band to be gibbeted, but it's still quite refreshing to hear an extremely well-endowed sound accompany a black/death metal record without a damned symphony or ethereal female howl come in and cheese things up.
That said, The Black Dahlia Murder rarely stray from their European worshipping, though they do manage to come off with a sound that is American in tone and European in spirit. Furthermore, they do so by staying in the frenzy and thus avoiding the epic highs and lows. This bloodthirsty environment is what gives the expressive and varied approach of band frontman Trevor Strnad the edge to prove himself, while also making the band more appealing to differing audiences.
Of course any self-respecting metalhead will find heavy traces of the mid-90's Nuclear Blast and Earache roster on "Nocturnal"; and the band aren't exactly pushing the bar in terms of innovation. But as a complete package it's hard to really find any direct fault on this record. It does what it sets out to do extremely well and its shortcomings are helped immensely by its relatively brief 34 minute runtime. Consider it another plus for the night life.
(4 / 5)