Black Dahlia Murder

Verminous (Metal Blade)

It feels like everything is being, consciously or subconsciously, retconned to be about the coronavirus right now, and understandably so. It informs every aspect of our life at present, and hangs over us like a terrible shadow. But even knowing that, the sleeve art that you see below, of a ruined city and some sort of green nastiness infecting every nook and cranny, is unsettling and eerie, and terribly appropriate.

That’s not deliberate. The title of the record, the theme of the cover, refers to metal music flourishing in the underground: “We, members of our beloved and hidden world of the heavy metal underground teeming just below the surface, are the verminous,” singer Trevor Strnad says in the press release. “The rats and roaches looming in the cracks and crevices of this fallen world. We are the pariahs that the world of normality finds loathsome and obscene. We are the carriers of a plague of knowledge so vile that it could bring the unsuspecting mankind to its knees. Always the underdogs. Our love for this music and what it means to our lives is foolishly underestimated.”

There’s nothing on Verminous, the Detroit death metal band’s ninth studio album, that will pull them out of the underground and into mainstream success, but that’s absolutely not what they’re about. As Strnad suggests, the underground, the gutter, is where they’re comfortable. It’s where they’ll do their best work, free from constraint.

Whether Verminous is their best work to date is tough to say — they’ve not really put out a bad album. But it’s right up there, thanks to the relatively anthemic nature of the songs. The title track and “Child of Night,” to name but two of a solid ten, sound utterly epic.

“I think this is the biggest evolutionary leap we’ve ever taken from one album to the next. We stoked the creative fires with 2017’s Nightbringers and it’s gone much further now in Verminous,” says Strand. “It’s a very colorful, moody, and charismatic album that experiments with new sounds and ideas without losing the cutthroat Black Dahlia edge. There is a lot of minutiae to digest. Plenty of delicious little Easter eggs woven into the fabric of each song. Each one is a living, breathing entity that will stand on its own as some of the best music this band has ever created.”

He’s not wrong.

(Metal Blade)

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