Michigan extreme metal troupe The Black Dahlia Murder are riding high on the back of last year’s critically acclaimed album, Ritual.
Richard Holmes caught up with vocalist Trevor Strnad as the band prepares to call time on its 20-date UK tour with Skeletonwitch and Fleshgod Apocalypse.
rushonrock: You’re currently on a lengthy UK tour in support of Ritual, how is it going so far?
Trevor Strnad: The shows are turning out great. We are playing a lot of smaller, more intimate venues, which is what we prefer anyway. The kids can crowd surf, stage dive and sing into the mic and have more involvement. The line up is awesome. We have known the guys in Skeletonwitch for a long time, they are getting better and better. We had Fleshgod out for the Summer Slaughter tour which we did in the States last year and they were really impressive.
rushonrock: How is the new material going down?
TS: We are playing eight new songs and eight old ones. It has been going great. There was a question in our heads, ‘is this going to work, playing all this new stuff?’. But the reviews and reactions to the record made us think we should try it at least. Playing those songs is fun for us too, they are a bit harder, a bit more challenging, some of them have samples which we are doing live and we’ve never done that in the past.
rushonrock: Ritual was released last summer – having had time to reflect, how do you feel about the album now?
TS: It is our proudest moment. It’s what we wanted to do – put out a record that would reignite the fire with the fans and we took more time to work on it. We did our touring back to back before that so we got it done early, we played the same amount of shows but just on a more rigorous schedule. So we were afforded a summer at home which gave us time to relax and live like normal people for a second. I think it helped bring more energy into the new album. When we started writing the album, it was exciting. We came to the theme pretty early, wanting to do a ‘witchcraft’ thing and that leant itself to the music that would be written as well, having that kind of creepiness.One thing we set out to do was to write a bigger variety of songs this time and having those other textures, such as samples, helped to mix it up and make it more interesting . And it’s more classically death metal I would say. We wanted to do more parts that were emotive, that would resonate, not just blast through everything. It is (guitarist) Ryan Knight’s second record playing with us and his first full one where he really went nuts, he wrote six of the songs. Bringing in another creative mind was an exciting thing for us.
rushonrock: Did Ryan help spark the evolution in the band’s sound that’s evident on Ritual?
TS: I think so. I don’t think there was enough time for it to come into full bloom on the last record (Deflorate) because (he came in) mid-writing. We have now toured around a lot and played a lot of shows together. Ryan is a really educated player, he brought some new techniques to the records that we probably wouldn’t have thought of. There is a little bit of a rock and roll tinge which is definitely his touch for sure. He should be proud, I hope he is!
rushonrock: TBDM are a band who’ve helped introduce a new generation to death metal, but are well respected by many older fans. Why do you think this is?
TS: We get pegged as so many different genres, so we reach a lot of different types of fans. With the young kids it’s deathcore, metalcore, stuff like that, and with the old guard, they may have been put off by what they have seen and heard about us under those tags, but once they’ve heard the record they think, ‘it is very much staked in early and mid nineties death metal, and thrash’. Being labelled as so many different things has been a battle but also a blessing. At first it was confusing, but then kids just kept coming from all walks of life; hardcore kids, young and old, death metal people and everything in between… dudes with swoopy hair, dudes with all kinds of hair! I think being an ‘oddball band’ in our videos and interviews has helped keep us out of a box, get us out to different people and make us stick out in a sea of the same shit.
rushonrock: You’ve released five full length albums in just 10 years – why is the band so prolific compared to many of its peers?
TS: It’s the attention span of the youth I think, it is so come and go now. We want to be always writing a new record, and always have that excitement level there. The two year cycle has been good to us, every two years we get another one out! We released Ritual during the summer instead of the fall which was a better move because it synced up with our tours last summer. It was awesome to go on a big tour like Summer Slaughter and have a new release with us. Playing on that line-up in the States was an important move for us too because we played with a lot of young ‘buzz’ bands and reached new fans. You have to do it, you have to play with a lot of different types of bands and try different things and take it as far as you can. If we only stuck to a very narrow death metal scope in terms of anything we touched, then I don’t think we would be sitting here right now. We got lucky, played our cards right and took a lot of risks.
rushonrock: You’re playing the Bloodstock Open Air festival this summer. How do you feel about being on the same bill as the likes of Deicide and Behemoth?
TS: That’s who we want to be playing with, so it’s definitely a comfortable setting for us. Also, it sounds like it’s going to be comparable to the mainland (festivals), so we’re really looking forward to it. And I can’t wait to blow all my money on metal shirts and comb through all the distros, I love coming over here!