The Black Dahlia Murder (TBDM) keep upping the ante in the realm of melodically influenced death metal with their most recent release: ‘Nocturnal’. First, I was curious after listening to ‘Unhallowed’, then I was a sure fire fan after ‘Miasma’, and now I am wondering how these guys keep churing out the best american death metal yet! With the addition of drummer Shannon Lucas, they are in synch like never before. Brian Eschbach(sp?)pretty much wrote the whole thing and it is damn near a masterpiece. John Kempanien’s (sp?) lead work is once again OUTSTANDING. Ryan Williams’ bass is on time and flawless… oh yeah and you can actually hear the bass guitar on this record! And Trevor Strnad has returned to his thematic horror narrative, weaving a tapestry of black gore and fear throughout every track. Whereas ‘Miasma’ had some of the same lyrical content as ‘Unhallowed’ save for a few songs about partying (i’m charming, vice campaign, Miasma etc..), ‘Nocturnal’ is a clear journey back to their roots on the ‘Unhallowed’ record. One thing I have noticed on every record from TBDM is that the members of the band aren’t bound to one another musically. Each one of then plays independently from one another. You hear bassist Williams playing something besides the same riffs as the rhythm guitar, but he still stays locked in with drummer Lucas. And in case you haven’t looked in your CD booklet, there is only one lead singer in TBDM. All of the vocals on this record are done by Strnad. Live, Rhythm guitarist Eschbach fills in some. But an amazing talent to switch from the ‘Growl’ of death metal, to more of an ‘At the Gates’ style scream. One last thing: no filler songs on this record, which is great. My picks for fave tracks: ‘Warborn’, ‘What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse’, ‘Deathmask Divine’ um… naw… the whole album is awesome, no need for fave tracks. If you get a chance to see them live, do so. Awesome show. No posturing, just five guys ripping the stage and having fun.