Tournament elimination is an odd way to select one's favorite metal. Most people just make a list of better and better bands. Instead, I fill up a month with seemingly random contests (but trust me on this: there is a system at work here). Sometimes, these weird pairings reveal certain truths that might otherwise be hard to detect.
For example, there Obscura's latest album, “Omnivium”. Taken by itself, it is a dark and intimidating parade of blast beats and gross growlings. The guitar work throughout runs the full gamut of styles and textures, from deft arpeggios to dissonance to innocent-sounding acoustic lines. Also, major props for the delightfully prominent bass on the album, reminiscent of our old pal Steve DiGiorgio (who in fact played with the band during the Japanese tour two years ago). In many ways, “Omnivium” feels like a not-too-distant descendant of Death's “Human”. Sounds pretty great, right?
Yeah, well, queue up The Black Dahlia Murder's “Ritual”, and things get put into perspective pretty quickly. This album has virtually everything that “Omnivium” has, but in greater abundance. The darkness is darker, the blast beats more meaningful, the bass more from the throat. On another note: BDM was last seen at the Arsies two years ago, when they were dinged a bit for sounding a little formulaic. This time around, they've avoided sounding hackneyed, instead churning out classic, memorable moments (the central riffs in “A Shrine To Madness” and “On Stirring Seas Of Salted Blood” are for the ages). If there's a critique of “Ritual”, it's that it sometimes comes across as a little too knowingly lowbrow. But so fucking what.
Huzzah to The Black Dahlia Murder! They'll take on Symphony X in three weeks. Tomorrow, we end our first week of competition with Jersey thrashers Anthrax versus Japanese thrashers United.