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Black Dahlia Murder

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THE Black Dahlia Murder

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“Australia’s just metal as fuck man, you guys like eat lightning and shit chains.”

Frontman Trevor Strnad laughs heartily, revelling in our Aussie death metal culture ahead of the band’s May tour. They’ll be bringing LA extreme metal group The Faceless and Putrid Pile, or Shaun from Wisconsin along with them, and Strnad’s excitement shines through as he admits, “I feel at home amongst the metalheads there.

“We didn’t have anything to do with the lineup, but it was such a pleasant surprise to see The Faceless, we know them very well, and we’ve toured with them a lot. We played some shows with Putrid Pile in the very early days. I know Shaun and love his moustache so much. I can’t wait to see that; it’s going to be awesome.”

Life’s certainly good for the singer, with the band having just completed recording the drums for the follow-up to seventh record Abysmal (2015). While the five-piece like to keep their writing separate from the road, the singer’s certainly found his tour experiences bleeding into the studio.

“You’re right, but I think a lot of it comes home from seeing other bands. We try to think about how what we write’s going to translate live, and there’s an effort to keep things clear. Even though it’s technical and fast music, you’ve got think about it coming out of some huge ass speakers at an outdoor festival. We just absorb information as we go, what not to do from watching other bands. We’re not through growing as a band. It’s an experience.”

The musician’s voice shoots up as our chat moves to 24-year-old Brandon Ellis, the young guitarist stepping into the fold following long-time axeman Ryan Knight’s departure.

While Ellis has been in the band for over a year, he’s working on this upcoming eighth record is not only his first time on a Black Dahlia album, but as Strnad passionately tells me, “his debut as a songwriter”.

“That is one of the most exciting parts for me. He’s been in a lot of well-known bands, but this is the first time he’ll actually have any of his music featured on a professional band’s recordings. The stuff he’s turned out for the record has just been so great. I’m excited as hell for the little guy; he’s so young (and our drummer too) that I kind of think of them as kids, my sons,” he laughs deeply.

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A point of fascination was with Strnad being able to juggle writing new lyrics with his dark death metal column ‘The Obituarist’ on Metal Injection. Some of the hidden yet fresher jams featured in his last piece, from New Zealand boys Carnal to Greece’s Abnormal Inhumane, have certainly helped ground him. Strnad grows very introspective here, admitting that hasn’t always been a good thing.

“The only wall I ran into was that I just tunnel-visioned death metal in between me buying records and doing the column as well. When it came time to lyrics, I was like, ‘Okay well, I’m around these dead baby jokes 24/7. How do I be scary?’ (chuckles). So yeah I was kind of frustrated, but I enjoy living it this way where I just block out the rest of the shit, and I’m a total “Reign Man” for death metal. It’s the only thing that makes me happy,” he says emphatically.

“I was already just spreading as much as I could, so it’s been really cool for me. I see a massive hole in metal media for brutal death metal. It’s not being represented. So I just had to do it.”

 

Our chat deepens with the musician reflecting on just why it’s so rewarding to embrace death metal’s roots, saying, “One of the things I look to the most for inspiration for Black Dahlia Murder is the past and origins of death metal.“I always keep that in my pocket with what I’m doing, choosing the artwork and themes for the band… I try to think about us as a gateway band, and I realise that we’ve been that for a lot of young kids to come into the world of extreme music. So I try to think about an awesome, bright old-school album cover with classically violent themes. I want to embody what still gets my blood pumping. I don’t know what to say; I have arrested development for death metal at 15.”

 

…continued below…

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His mention of Black Dahlia’s more classic albums brings third release Nocturnal to mind, which turns a whopping ten this year. One of those mainstay records, it still resonates with both band and fans alike, and Strnad relates his strong personal connection as he says passionately, “For me, that’s the first one I look back on, and I’m proud of, where we stepped into adulthood.

“If that’s the one we take to our grave, then I’m proud. But I also can’t believe it’s been ten years. It’s gone so fast because we’ve been on tour for most of it and we’re one of those bands where we take every single opportunity we can. That’s our credo, our promise to each other.

“We never claimed to be the most original band, what we do is definitely a melting pot of things that we like. But you can say that about a lot of death metal, you know? It’s one of those genres where it’s cool to mine the past. The Internet era has been a blessing for me in that regard, checking the annals of lost death metal time, just so many releases that never got their dues but are still great… With how many death metal bands I’m aware of, I can’t believe that I’m not running into them on every street corner. It’s crazy,” the frontman chuckles.

The quintet has always looked up to legends Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death, working hard to survive the inevitable shifts in the scene and the heavy music world overall.

“That was the goal, Strnad asserts, “and we were trying to think long-term from as soon as we got signed. So playing for that longevity to be a band that people depend on… I want fans to be like, ‘Alright new Black Dahlia record’s coming. I’m just going to buy it’. They know what to expect, but they know we’re not going to turn out some tired-ass shit either. That’s why Cannibal Corpse are here. They’re hardworking and didn’t change, they just ignored the outside world and did their thing.

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“It’s not completely selfish what we do. But as we’ve gotten better as players, we’ve always tried to do more satisfying stuff technical-wise, that we couldn’t do when we were kids,” he muses. “We have the formula to write a good Black Dahlia song down, but we’re always looking at the very small details of things and how to improve.”

Black Dahlia grew up within the Michigan hardcore scene, where death metal was present but scattered, and the singer says bluntly yet with a chuckle, “It certainly wasn’t California”. That’s why there’s always a punk heart to every show, and Strnad’s candidness continues as he states simply, “If you’re not out there destroying yourself, then you fucked up.

 

“It hurts to play an hour and 20 minutes of three-minute death metal songs at a million miles per hour. It’s not like playing other music; it’s Olympic. It comes with a big sense of pride, and it’s weirdly addictive.

 

“To me Australia’s just so metal dude, so I’m ready to be back in the midst of it.”

 

Gear up for when the Michigan quintet storms our shores for their Aussie tour, kicking off on May 9th in Perth.

 

Written by Genevieve Gao

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