Finally a new album by The Black Dahlia Murder, rejoices the reviewer and merrily, puts Ritual into her stereo and presses play… a string quartet? Wait a minute, is this the right CD? After a few wonderous seconds, the salvation… familiar and much-loved sounds echo through the living room.
Still, the rather unusual classical beginning of this fifth record by the band from Detroit isn´t an exception. Besides the tried and tested formula of fat blast beats, Trevor Strnads unbelievable vocals and harmonising-melodic guitar solos and riffs, the band this time around adopts very different tones, too (strings, piano). Also, the band isn´t too “posh” to here and there slow down the tempo for a while, which opens up opportunities for whole new sound dimension. Thus, you get much more than just “brute force metal”.
And it´s exactly that new concept that makes the record sound way more mature and well-thought-out than previous albums (this goes for Nocturnal and Miasma, unfortunately I haven´t had time to check out Deflorate from 2009 so far). There are two songs that showcase that new sound best, Blood In The Ink (final song) and Carbonized in Cruciform. The former stands out with orchestral elements that were brilliantly thrown in with the rest of the death metal sounds. Is this some new kind of Symphonic Metal? Symphonic Death Metal? If yes, then even I could get something out of it. Horrorfans are advised to take a closer look at the lyrics too because, usually, you can find there monsters, lots of blood and one or the other (un)dead.
Bottom line: Ritual is an awesome album, especially because one couldn´t have expected it in that form. Daring experiments aren´t always doomed to failure. And because last time I gave Nocturnal 9/10 I have absolutely no choice than to give this record all available points. Maybe with the next record we have to expand our rating scale?
Recommmended tracks: 5, 10, 12
01. A Shrine to Madness
02. Moonlight Equilibrium
03. On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
04. Conspiring With the Damned
05. The Window
06. Carbonized in Cruciform
07. Den of the Picquerist
08. Malenchanments of the Necrosphere
09. The Grave Robber´s Work
10. The Raven
11. Great Burning Nullifier
12. Blood in the Ink