Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To Die In Battle Divine

Black Dahlia Murder – Nocturnal

Other than my intentional forays into the music of the genre's seminal instigators, I don't think I've listened to a straight up black metal album for quite some time. As with other genres that espouse a deliberately simplified, stripped back form (punk, industrial) the practitioners eventually got bored and expanded or merged their music with other styles. Every black metal album I've heard of recent years is prefixed or suffixed by a qualifier: ambient black metal, blackened thrash, polka metal and so on.

The Black Dahlia Murder's take on the genre is different again. While the drumming and vocals are clearly black metal through and through and the visual aesthetic of the band is also a fit, the production is so clean and slick that Euronymous probably stirred restlessly in his grim, frostbitten grave when Nocturnal went gold (well, more so than usual anyway) and the catchy, melodic guitar hooks are more the kind of thing you'd find in a heavy thrash band (I'm put in mind of Arch Enemy), than the minimal droning riffs of Burzum. And maybe it's just their hair cuts, but somehow I keep getting a bit of an emo vibe from these guys.

Nevertheless if you're not too much of a purist the result is some damn good ear candy. Can you ask any more from a metal album than brutally heavy rhythms, diabolically wild guitar solos and literate but sociopathic lyrics screamed by someone sounding like a demoniac? The Black Dahlia Murder are a perfect example of good pop-metal; the production is high quality and the songs are as catchy and accessible as anything Jack Johnson ever wrote (but with all those boring fifths nice and flattened!) yet the melodies, aesthetic and energy are all genuinely evil. It's good fun stuff and I'm a bit annoyed that I missed my chance to see them play last month while I was overseas (damn you for ruining my holiday Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah!)

Here's 'What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse' from Nocturnal:

No comments: