The Black Dahlia Murder - Everblack (Metal Blade)

There's one bad thing and one great thing about The Black Dahlia Murder. They can't keep a line-up from wobbling out of orbit.

So is that the good thing? Or the bad thing?

If founding vocalist Trevor Strnad and guitarist Brian Eschbach need quest for missing pieces, let them. When band members prattle off the usual clichés - "our most X ever" or "we really took it to the next level on this one," it understandably elicits yawns. Everblack threatens to make good on hollow promises.

Down falls rain and thunder in Hell is Where She Waits For Me, a statement of intent looming large like Slayer’s Raining Blood. It swaggers in like a pack of bikers seven deep. Teutonic thrash chainsaws through American grind, wrapping this devil’s offering in wilted guitar strings. Somewhere, Arsis is kicking themselves.

Serving as their breakneck black metal centrepiece, Into the Everblack is guttered with strings possessed by silver screen Nosferatus and Beelzebubs. Stand back as Ryan Knight blasts his frets to matchwood. He wails like a phantom of the music hall, a tuxedoed virtuoso barely hiding his tattoos.

The band deftly tries their hand at brutal death metal ala Suffocation; low-slung riffs lumber with sinister intent in Phantom Limb Masturbation. Rhythm blasts down defences, white-hot melody mops up any survivors.

Blood Mine works hard to rouse pumped fists and raise moshpit hell. Classic metal fiends, hunched over with work in the morning, are like flies trapped in an intricate spider’s web weaved by colourful arpeggio. So rarely does vaulting ambition match a skill to realise it.

Where TBDM’s strength is unrivalled is keeping balance while treading razor-blade lines. Chops sound godly yet never technical. Their black metal pastiches, such as Every Rope a Noose, are unforgivingly vicious and dare defy the cloistered “order.” Ego is reeled in and teamwork lands on deck, bloodied by hook in mouth.

Modern metal is suffering through Spotify indignities and gnat-like attention spans. The Black Dahlia Murder cares little for the swoop-haired, watery-brown zeitgeist. Where lesser releases bruise, Everblack kills.