The Black Dahlia Murder – Abysmal

My experience with The Black Dahlia Murder has been pretty weak. Back when Everblack released in 2013, I decided to better acquaint myself with their back catalog before doing a review. I looked up people’s rankings (no one agreed) and picked the two that seemed to be fan favorites (I don’t remember which now). I couldn’t get into them for some reason and felt basically the same about Everblack.

Enter Abysmal. In the past two years I’ve forgotten basically everything I’ve listened to by this band, so I came to it not knowing what to expect. I was kind of shocked. Ignoring the cheesy string orchestra opening and closing, this seemed like it would be some solid melodic death metal.

This album is definitely not pushing any boundaries as far as melody and harmony are concerned. The riffs are fine. They do the job and get a solid amount of development throughout the songs. The song structures themselves are pretty formulaic, but that’s to be expected. Like I said, it is solid and standard. That doesn’t mean it’s boring. In fact, many albums I have to force myself to come back to. I had no problem throwing this on throughout the week.

The biggest negative for me was the consistency of style. Some songs break into almost a rock beat which ruins the intensity and heaviness setup by earlier sections. Also, songs like “Re-Faced” have some strange soloing. The solo introduces some jazz influenced ideas which are totally absent in the rest of the song. The sudden shift in style is awkward. And as already mentioned, I never like the use of strings (especially synthesized) to open/close an album without them being something consistently used throughout.

I know, I criticize for not pushing boundaries, and then when they do something unusual I criticize again. You can’t win. That’s not what I’m saying. Some of the solos are excellent: technical, wild, and introduce chromaticism in a way that is consistent with the rest of the song (see “Stygiophobic”). It is the consistency that makes it awkward and not the attempts at originality.

Overall, I can’t think of much to say about this. I’ll probably give it a few more listens, but like all other BDM releases, I’ll forget everything about it in a few months. I can pass the time easily with solid but generic death metal like this, but it isn’t going to make for something I return to over the years.

I give it a 6.5/10. Here’s a sample: