Impishly sinister at its core, The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Nightbringers jars the senses. Without straying too far from their brutal and assailing brand of death metal, their latest pummels in an excitingly new, yet familiar, way. Displaying a variety of musical themes, Nightbringers comes together cohesively to become one of the most enthralling and masterful releases of 2017 thus far. According to vocalist Trevor Strnad, “Death metal is for free thinkers, it’s for showing people the path to inner strength and operating on your own will, instead of being told what to do and living in fear.” Nightbringers is a celebration of just that, and more.

Technical precision–something that commonly defines their discography–continues to be a strong suit on Nightbringers, noted particularly in the fretboard acrobatics that are threaded throughout the record. The Black Dahlia Murder introduce this prowess from the beginning with “Widowmaker,” which comes in with a feral-like ferocity. Gutsy and unforgiving, Nightbringers‘ opener glaringly sets the tone without giving away too much–The darkness is growing around you, but it hasn’t fully consumed you just yet. Blistering fast drums and colossal riffs continue to reign in “Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake.” Strnad’s vocals are maniacal as he screams out from what seems to be a purely instinctive and emotionally-unhindered place. A solo breaks out from the clouds for a brief second, then a cataclysmic storm resumes once again, ending abruptly but powerfully shortly after.

Transitioning flawlessly in after is “Matriarch,” and it wastes no time with its soul-crushing, relentless intensity. Instrumentation is above and beyond once again, but lyrically, Nightbringers also hits a high note, not just cutting through the aggression of tracks like “Matriarch,” but further amplifying it. On occasion, one can think of Megadeth when hearing tracks like these, heard most in the fervent, violent riffs that refuse to loosen their grip, but there’s no replication here as The Black Dahlia Murder have managed to take that likeness/influence and make it even more savage. Another thrasher of a track, “Nightbringers,” follows; It single-handedly manages to best sum up the record as a whole. With an unsettling sense of urgency and an aura of terror, the title-track paints a diabolical picture that’s soundtracked by the unrelenting force that is The Black Dahlia Murder. Pictures like these are even more descriptively painted in tracks, like the aforementioned “Matriarch” and the album’s closing track, “The Lonely Deceased,” who’s lyrics tell of ghastly tales.

“Jars” and “Kings of the Nightworld” continue to thrill with their bloodthirsty attitude. A more classical approach comes in “Jars,” while its successor “Kings of the Nightworld,” rhythmically awes as it gets down into a still demented, but newly groove-oriented, place. One can’t express just how phenomenal the guitar work on this record is, and “Kings of the Nightworld,” in particular, really hits that home. “Catacomb Hecatomb” comes off more as a silent beast. It’s not tame by any means, but in comparison to the remainder of Nightbringers it has a more steady drive. Regardless, its progression throughout is purely ominous, keeping you at the very edge until “As Good As Dead” doom-fully chimes in with a rolling, thunderous drum that grows into a raging hurricane of despair. The melodies within “As Good As Dead” are one of its biggest strong suits, featured as well in tracks like “Kings of the Nightworld.”

Providing the curtain call is “The Lonely Deceased,” which contains one of the most chilling moments in the entire album. A dark fog looms over this track, but it clears briefly amongst a etherial instrumental and a battle cry from Strnad. There’s so much to be discovered in this record. Every element stands on its own, but still comes together harmoniously. That is perhaps the record’s biggest success. What constructive criticism can I offer? I’ve been asking myself that question for the past few weeks, and quite honestly that’s a hard one to answer. There’s variety, fantastic lyrical themes, a highlight of each member’s expertise of their instruments, a restrained use of that expertise, but also just the right amount of flashiness. If I could say anything, it’d be to push the envelope even further next time, because if anyone can succeed at doing so it’s the kings of the nightworld, The Black Dahlia Murder. All in all, Nightbringers is a damn near perfect record.

Nightbringers is receiving a strong seal of approval, and as a general consensus it seems that The Black Dahlia Murder’s eighth studio record could be their most accomplished yet. It is most certainly something for them to be proud of, and it is definitely something their devoted, unwavering fanbase will be proud of come this Friday as well. Even if you claim to not like death metal, The Black Dahlia Murder’s contemporary and skillful touch this time around will have you at its opening note.