There are very few outstanding melodic death metal records being released these days, most bands seem to mirror each other and create a repetition of below-average mush. Its not often you find an album full of progression and individuality, a real gem to say the least.
The Black Dahlia Murders 2011 offering Ritual, is just that. The album treads on ground never before seen by the band whilst still remaining true to their established sound. With the addition of various new sound-influences – combined with the eargasmic sound of Trevor Strnad doing what he does best – this album stands out as one of the best albums, and definitely the most progressive and experimental albums released by the melodic death metallers to date.
The album opens up with the eerie A Shrine to Madness, a song which pretty much rehashes Dahlias earlier work, with typical fast paced guitar chugging and regular vocal pitch changes. This is followed by the first single off the album, Moonlight Equilibrium, which again feels like good old Dahlia. What sets these songs – and the whole album in general – apart from past work, however, is the addition of peculiar yet fantastic guitar work, specifically the arbitrary solos that seem to appear seemingly randomly, yet they fit perfectly into the mesh of debaucherous brutality that appears in every song.
The album continues after the first two songs by taking The Black Dahlia Murder to a whole new level. One of the best songs to exemplify this is the fusion of styles in The Raven which seemingly starts out as a song reminiscent of previous albums, but breaks down into a deeply melodic chorus accompanied by excellent guitar work. Even some of the songs that keep a lot of the original Dahlia sound show great progress, as shown in The Window which tells the story of Gilles de Rais, a child murderer in France in the 1400?s. This song has ground-breaking melodies accompanying the chilling chorus.
One of the greatest things about this album must be the addition of melodic instrumentals, such as the piano and acoustic intro to Carbonized in Cruciform, which overall gives the album a more appealing and rounded feel than the regular guitar shredding and drum slams with some vocals thrown in.
The album wraps up with Blood in the Ink, which is probably one of the greatest songs Dahlia have ever written. This song moulds together everything that is great about The Black Dahlia Murder, blending enthusiastic guitar riffs together with some serious blasting on the drums, and a mixture of fantastic vocals. Combine this with some string orchestra melodies backing the chorus, and the flawless guitar solo that would have any power-metal die-hard grinning, this is definitely the best song on the album, and brings an amazing end to an amazing creation.
Ritual brings us a fresh taste of the band, as the guitar-work has progressed to a much more technical sound from previous work, complimented by those ear-decimating signature Strnad vocals. This is definitely an album that cements The Black Dahlia Murders place in the metal world