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Many still retain an antiquated vision of metal as a world of the nerdy, disenfranchised and aesthetically challenged. Yet, in truth, its journey through the 21st century has taken some decidedly odd turns.
Death metal is now the preserve of two camps, divided by a generation gap yet frequently co-existing at the same shows in a kind of uneasy truce: heavily tattooed youthful fashionistas on the one side, weather-beaten veterans in Deicide t-shirts standing firm on the other. The dividing line between the ‘deathcore’ frequently favoured by the former and the old-fashioned rigor mortis of the latter may often be hard to spot, yet this hasn’t stopped a surfeit of hot air being expelled on the subject in the realms of internet and moshpit alike.
For the many of us confused by all of this, it’s just as well we’ve got The Black Dahlia Murder around. This visually unprepossessing Detroit troupe, over the course of their previous three albums, have somehow managed to garner a rabid following amidst both camps, simply by raising the ante mercilessly on their death metal chops to deliver a merciless meld of melody and malice that slices like blade to jugular.
Like so many benchmark metal records of this decade, Deflorate takes many of its original cues from Scandinavian saviours At the Gates, and particularly their 1995 pièce de résistance Slaughter of the Soul. Yet The Black Dahlia Murder’s trump card is an ability to channel influences from Swedish death metal, hardcore, thrash and traditional heavy metal into a ferociously hyperactive blizzard of intensity that miraculously balances out nimble technicality and hell-for-leather bravura to perfection.
There’s no let-up whatsoever in the 33 feverishly exhilarating minutes of Deflorate, which frantically cram in a veritable embarrassment of hammer-blow riffs, blistering solos, and Grand Guignol vocal flourishes, almost as if all three are going out of fashion – ironically, what this hardy gang are doing is sidestepping spurious concerns of fashion altogether. So, ultimately, who's to care which side of the fence they fall, when these expert butchers slay with such surgical precision and straight-up savagery. --Jimmy Martin
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