The Black Dahlia Murder: At The Forefront

"Even though I have songs about cutting off people’s faces and wearing their face on my face, I’m totally still approachable" - Trevor Strnad

The Black Dahlia Murder is in fact closing out the touring cycle for their latest album Ever Black, in Australia this month and aside from being bombarded by questions on this mythical event known as the Australian Winter, Trevor Strnad and I got stuck into the latest tour and a rather interesting wrap up of the last fifteen years of the band.  “The Ever Black tour has been going great; we’ve done a lot of high profile stuff so far, the album has been very well received. Now we have another one under our belts, an album we have been secretly sitting on, it should be out sometime in the fall, I’m not sure if we’ll be doing any new stuff during the Australian tour but we’ll have to wait and see”.

Ever Black has been described as everything the band collectively loves about the genre of death metal; and according to Trevor the check list for a good death metal song comprises of a catchy riff, hooks and a chorus that gets stuck in your head. “Believe it or not AC/DC is a big influence on our band. A good death metal song also has to be ferocious; it has to be fast and has to have some blast beats in there – I mean obviously we love them; we do them all the time. I remember when we were starting out; we loved all these melodic bands; At The Gates and such yet there was no one out there doing it aggressively as it could be done so that is where we found our spot; combining the more modern blasty death metal style with the melodic styles, it’s the blend between the two, a great death metal song has melody but also has ugliness as well”.

Ever Black was written and recorded during some turbulent times for The Black Dahlia Murder, including two member changes for the band, yet considering the circumstances the recording of Ever Black went pretty smoothing “It was intimidating in the beginning as fans had become quite attached to Shannon [Lucas - Drummer] and Ryan [Williams - Bass] Trevor states “And partially because they were featured on the DVD and it was this window into the lives and personalities of the band” he continues. “So the DVD is now a blessing and a curse, it helped us get bigger but then when we changed members it made things awkward because people were like ‘well I want to see the guys on the DVD!’.  The deal with doing the second DVD was to get fans up to speed with the band”.

The Black Dahlia Murder is regarded as one of the most popular extreme metal acts in the US, but their success cannot be attributed to just one factor. The necessary evil of the internet gave TBDM are good platform as far as exposure and trading files, however the biggest factor contributing to their success has been the inability to pin point their style by genre. “Whether it’s because we have short hair or we don’t suit a particular mould or what; we’re death metal to one person, we’re melodic to another, Metalcore to that guy over there, tomorrow we’re deathcore. We’re many things to many people and I think that has been instrumental in the success of the band, because I mean if we only appealed to long haired death metal fans our reach wouldn’t be as far. I think it’s good to be a misfit, I think just the way we looked spoke to people; totally normal dudes – like a weird fat guy in glasses, gets up and sings, ok. I think it made it more achievable for young people, you know, like if THAT guy can do it, I can do it!”. Their niche has also been a hindrance  at times as Trevor explains “I thought that we would have it easier with this indescribable presence, but there are some detractors; the ones who mouth off with their statements like these guys aren’t true, those guys are smiling on stage, they have short hair, they’re not metal. Slowly but surely though we have won some of those people over and with each album we have been breaking down a few walls in that regard but it’s not the most important mission to me now as it was in the beginning. Now I am just thankful that we have all these fans, I don’t care what they call us, as long as they like us I’m thankful for their enthusiasm”.

Creativity does come with its challenges so where would you say the music of The Black Dahlia Murder challenges you the most? “It can be both a chore and a super fun time, I think that the deeper we go, like writing more songs on each album – the more intimidating it becomes. Because it’s like, ‘Ok here we go; I’ve got to write ten songs on ripping people’s eye balls out’ how can I keep this fresh and exciting. On the plus side, I am constantly inspired by the genre of death metal so embodying what I believe to be death metal is my mission, to show a young kid who’s checking us out as his first experience into death metal – we want to show him what we were so excited about when we first discovered death metal”. Do you find any pressures with having to keep up that sort of persona? “Yes and no. For the most part, I mean we all know that the violence in death metal; the macabre aspect is sort of a joke, it’s a morbid humour that you either get or you don’t and even though I have songs about cutting off people’s faces and wearing their face on your face, I’m totally still approachable”. [Laughs]

You guys have been around for a good fifteen years now so what transformations have you seen within the genre and more importantly within the band during this time? “There have been a lot of different phases over those fifteen years. Metal popularity right now is on an upswing which is favourable for us of course; young people are getting more and more into it so there is a lot of enthusiasm right now for the style. In our time we saw the big metalcore explosion and at one minute we were on magazine covers being compared with some of the biggest names at the time; As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Unearth, then the big shift came and we were now labelled a deathcore band and compared with the likes of Suicide Silence and All Shall Perish.... While we’ve been around the fastest bands have gotten a lot faster – there is always that attempt to become a more Olympic musician than band before, you know, the ‘Out-technique-Neclophagist’. In a way it’s exiting to see the feats that musicians have been smashing over the last decade, like Fleshgod Apocalypse who are writing songs at 300BPM, which is faster than anyone could have imagined ten years ago. I have respect for the technicality of it all but I don’t think that being fast is the primary factor in heavy metal".   

With the latest album you guys are sitting on, what are you hoping to encompass within it? “The latest album will be The Black Dahlia Murder heading down the same path as we’ve been on lately; sticking to our signature sound but spearheading it towards the future, so we’ve been incorporating new ideas, writing catchier songs, getting improved song writing so I think that, even though the band have been around for a while, we’re still aspiring to become better musicians, I feel there is still plenty of room to grow for us and its exciting, if anything, this is the most exciting time yet for the band, the band keeps inching forward, and it shows some band are still reaching, we’ve got to keep on pushing, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity so we’ve got to take it to the limits and try out best”.