(Metal Blade)

01. Black Valor
02. Necropolis
03. A Selection Unnatural
04. Denounced, Disgraced
05. Christ Deformed
06. Death Panorama
07. Throne Of Lunacy
08. Eyes Of Thousand
09. That Which Erodes The Most Tender
10. I Will Return

RATING: 8.5/10

Detroit's THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER hit the ground running with debut album "Unhallowed" and has never looked back. The group's tightly wound, short, sharp, and unrelenting brand of melodic death metal has been embraced by fans worldwide. The rise has been a meteoric one, each album more successful than the last, culminating with "Nocturnal". A DVD called "Majesty" served as a kind of capstone to that three-album run and nonstop touring.

Now comes "Deflorate", an album that exceeds the accomplishments of previous albums on virtually every level. The songs are far more individually identifiable, the melodies more memorable, and the arrangements across the album the most varied to date. The addition of Ryan Knight (ex-ARSIS) has paid big dividends as well. In addition to his writing contributions, which give the album an added dynamic, the solos stand out far more than has been the case in the past too. The album as a whole is demonstrative of a group that understands its sound and its appeal to fans, yet still manages to progress within those parameters.

What remains unchanged is the sheer ferocity that this group has always brought to the table. That merciless attack that melts faces hasn't changed, nor has the act's ability to pack one hell of a punch in the shortest time possible, leaving you out of breath and begging for more. On "Death Panorama", the guys do so in less than two minutes. That also happens to be one of several cuts where Trevor Strnad utilizes his low vocals to a much greater extent. "Throne of Lunacy" is another track where the lows lead the way. Strnad also enunciates better on the album. The guy has clearly put effort into making his vocals as a whole more interesting to the listener.

"Deflorate" is a 34-minute exercise in how to get the most of every minute of music and still leave the listener beaten and bloodied. Whether it is a standout like "Necropolis" (the melody is fantastic), a vintage ripper like "Black Valor", or the epic-length (a whopping five minutes) closer "I Will Return", the music is written in a way that has the listener eagerly paying attention to every note played. With "Deflorate", THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER proves more convincingly than ever that they are one of the top extreme metal acts in the world. Few do justice to the style the way these guys do.


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