By Prof. Jocko

With the changing direction of the music industry today, you are almost always faced with dilemmas of what to do when it comes to selecting music; online downloads, MP3’s, IPOD’s, etc. have literally turned purchasing music upside down, and with more negative effects to those who have to make a living at it. However, every once in awhile there comes a band down the pipeline that stands out from the rest, a band that has balls of steel and worth the money being spent on an entire compact disc. That band is called Black Dahlia Murder and their latest LP is called "Ritual" and is one hell of an ear-splitting terror ride from the very beginning through the all 12 tracks!

This is their fifth album, and in my opinion, one of the most emotionally raw and full of energy set of tunes these guys have put out. My first exposure to BDM was at Ozzfest in 2005, and as a result,  Ihad to get my hands on some of their music.  Having been natives of Detroit, these guys have been kicking for just over ten years now and have toured with bands such as Skeletonwitch, The Red Chord, Goatwhore, 3 Inches of Blood and have also shared the same stage with metal veterans Cannibal Corpse and Children of Bodom.

This fierce group of metal gods consists of Trevor Strnad on vocals, Brian Eschbach on rhythm & lead guitar, Ryan Knight on lead guitars, Ryan "Bart" Williams on Bass guitar and Shannon Lucas on drums and are nothing less than a metal virtuoso. Although BDM has been coined as a Metalcore group, "Ritual" seems to possess distinct qualities that make the album unique.  Strnad has a deep, raspy vocal style found in many other singers but the rest of the band has a way of turning it into a dark, gothic musical nightmare, if you will. This is mostly reinforced by a couple of tracks that include piano as heard in "Carbonized in Cruciform" as well as the first track entitled "A Shrine To Madness" that starts with the somber tones of string cellos. An intro is always cool for any metal group. The bleak sound effects and eerie vibe get you ready for something frightful yet exciting that sends a chill up your spine…I suppose that is why they are there; to scare you into a feeling of dismay and hopelessness. It’s the kind of feeling you get in a horror movie seconds before someone is about to get brutally murdered.

The first couple of tracks are  a solid first impression, of course, which sets the pace for the remaining tracks and keep you interested in the remaining songs. This album is no exception, as tracks such as "Moonlight Equilibrium", "Conspiring with the Damned" and "The Window" are very forceful, kind of like a volcanic eruption. The vocals are phenomenal and are strongly backed by ripping guitar solos and a head-pounding rhythm section. More notable tracks that make a lasting impression in my mind are "The Raven", "Blood in the Ink" and "Carbonized in Cruciform" which are diverse, yet all maintain the same atomic energy all the way through to the last note; mostly because of the scorching vocals. What I appreciate the most is the way these guys take each song in a different direction and make it their own aside from any other outside influences.