Review: The Black Dahlia Murder – Abysmal (Deluxe Edition)

Location: Waterford, Michigan
Genre: Melodeath
Released: September 18, 2015
Format Reviewed: FLAC

By: Kris Kotlarik

For many years, I was unimpressed with The Black Dahlia Murder’s output. I tended to write them off as some Hot Topic butt metal band. But when they were in Columbus during the Decibel Magazine tour featuring Noisem, Carcass and Gorguts, they more than held their own as a live band in a lineup full of impressive performers. So I decided to look into their output further and I found that for me, their music has a niche. And that niche is workout music. Their seventh full album, Abysmal, fits that same mold.

This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. If I’m running a 5/10K, this is exactly the kind of album I would want to play. It doesn’t let up at any point in time from start to finish, which is fantastic. But at some point, when you dig deeper into the album’s sound, you start to realize that all the tracks kind of sound eerily similar to each other.

After the third track, I drifted into daydream mode because nothing was standing out as anything different from what I had already heard. So I had to go back again several times and listen to it, and each time, I had the same thing happen: I would zone out with Abysmal playing in the background.

You’re probably thinking I have ADD or something like that, and you’re probably right. My brain loves music that goes in a bunch of different directions throughout an album. But to be fair, this is a marked upgrade over similar albums by Arch Enemy and In Flames. In this case, being consistent and not letting up is to the album’s benefit. And although it’s difficult to remember standout tracks, there are plenty of standout moments, such as the fun dual-channel guitar interlude towards the end of “Vlad, Son of the Dragon,” and the impressive title track’s unrelenting blasts.

There aren’t any bad tracks, but there are very few that stand out among the others. The vocals remind me somewhat of The Dillinger Escape Plan mixed with a metalcore element. The production is also crisp, in line with their previous works. But the bonus tracks merely feel like an extension of the record itself. They don’t add much substance, but like the rest of the record, they are fun. And that’s what counts, right?

The last thing I want to point out here is that the run time (under 43 minutes counting the bonus tracks) is just about perfect for an album like this. If it were any longer, listener fatigue would set in. The band and label know that they don’t need to put 70 minutes of material on an album in order for it to succeed, and they got the run time here exactly right.

Overall: If you’re looking for a constant rush of energy, look here.

Rating: 3.0*

Buy the album here.


Review: Children Of Bodom – Hate Crew Deathroll

Location: Espoo, Finland
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Released: January 7, 2003
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Library Randomizer

By: Kris Kotlarik

I have always pictured Children Of Bodom as a band that would be more fun to watch live than their studio albums would indicate, and Hate Crew Deathroll is no exception.

The best song here is the opener, “Needled 24/7.” There’s a brief but majestic synth solo which can also be heard in “Chokehold” and “You’re Better Off Dead.” The last two tracks, “Lil’ Bloodred Ridin’ Hood” and the title track, are among the album’s fastest and are above average. The rest are merely okay or worse, with “Angels Don’t Kill” sounding like new-era Sabaton (read: slow and cheesy) in melodeath form. There are some decent moments; “Bodom Beach Terror” has a cool bridge riff following the first verse. The ending to “You’re Better Off Dead” sounds like a stripped-down version of Painkiller’s intro and continues into “Lil’ Bloodred.” Otherwise there isn’t a lot of unique parts to draw me in.

Unfortunately, Children Of Bodom wound up on a similar career path with their Swedish counterparts, In Flames. If you’re looking for some Bodom to sink your teeth into, start with their debut, Something Wild, work your way through Follow The Reaper, and ignore everything else that came after that (including this) until their most recent release, Halo Of Blood, which is a modest return to form. I can see how other fans would enjoy Hate Crew Deathroll and the album that follows, Are You Dead Yet?, but both albums don’t pack the consistent punch that their stronger works contain.

Overall: Needs more synth solos. And perhaps a U.S. tour. 

Rating: 2.0*