The Black Dahlia Murder have been doing their thing since 2001. I’ve always liked their music but have somehow managed to miss them live, which is my doing not theirs because they’ve played in the UK umpteen times including UK TechFest a couple of years when I managed to miss them by a day. This is their ninth album – much to look forward to here.

The beginning is a classic one – ominous build-up followed by a furious assault of melody filled technical death thrash. The opener “Verminous” announces the band’s presence. Darkness is in the guitar work. The juggernaut rolls on into “Godlessly”. The whole thing smacks of wild fury, but the thing with The Black Dahlia Murder is the quality of the to-ing and fro-ing and the song structures, as they rise and fall. These songs are clinically solid without ever being formulaic – they flow too much for that – and I have to say for me have an element of Swedish melo death and a touch of Children of Bodom about them. Deathly vocals work in well with the intricate and absorbing patterns. It’s as tight as you might expect. It’s got energy and it’s heavy. I read that it’s “emotional”. I don’t know about that but there’s plenty of spirit, personality and balls. There’s a short section in “Child of Night’ which takes us into epic spheres. I think this would happen more often but it’s all so tightly controlled and keeping hold of the complex song structures is what counts. Each song is big. And when they do a solo, as they do on “Sunless Empire”, it falls out of the song and isn’t some exercise in vanity. ‘How Very Dead” could have indulged into pomposity but instead goes into loud and proud threatening death metal complete with the deft musicianship that oozes from this band. “The Wereworm’s Feast” takes us on another multi-layered thrill-seeking journey. It’s dark and venomous but it lifts the spirits and as with many of these songs, it’s catchy in the heaviest way. The tempo is ramped up. Adrenaline flows. Necks will be stiff. There will be wonderment at the quality of the musicianship. To be honest, I just wanted to listen to “The Wereworm’s Feast” over and over, but instead there’s a sinister little interlude with a Mediterranean guitar. I guess the idea was to calm us before the storm. And the storm came in the form of the darkest clouds. The Black Dahlia Murder play this album out with a moody piece. It’s still heavy of course, and an atmosphere lingers in the air, as the band prefer to play it out this way than leaving us breathless, as they have done for most of this fine death n roll album.

These are the most solid songs imaginable. It’s very easy to tell from listening to “Verminous” why The Black Dahlia Murder are such a highly rated live band. This is heavy, exciting and highly accomplished.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)