In the 19 years since The Black Dahlia Murder’s formation, the Michigan crew have grown to become one of extreme metal’s most respected bands, bolstered by a back catalogue so strong that any hint of a new album is welcomed with high anticipation. The success of 2017’s Nightbringers pushed expectations even higher, but this merely served to fuel the band’s fire, because 10th album Verminous is even better than its predecessor.
The opening title tracks sets out the album’s stall with a barrage of riffs, blastbeats and savage vocals from the near-infallible Trevor Strnad; it’s classic Black Dahlia Murder and a welcome punch to the senses. Where the album really makes its mark, though, are the melodies and tempo changes, meaning songs like Sunless Empire and Removal Of The Oaken Stake morph into massive anthems that are bound to get fists pumping and bodies moving.
This doesn’t mean there’s less of the aggression that made TBDM so revered, mind you; The Wereworm’s Feast is a slab of death metal so meaty it could feed a family of four for a month and The Leather Apron’s Scorn simply crushes with ease. It’s the final track, Dawn Of Rats, however, that resonates loudest, bringing elements from the rest of the album together into one neat, four-minute package that ranks among the best songs the band have ever written.
If festival slots were based on the consistency of releases, The Black Dahlia Murder would have headlined Download moons ago. Verminous doesn’t just uphold their quality control; it represents a band who are still evolving, possibly yet to reach their creative zenith. If that’s the case, whatever comes next has the potential to be nothing short of completely mindblowing. Until then, this is still absolutely excellent.