As we approach the two decade mark since their inception, one of the many, many elements of The Black Dahlia Murder's career that deserves adoration is the bands refusal to take their legendary death metal status for granted. Twenty years in, we still find ourselves discussing a band that are trying to both sharpen, and curve the edges of the molten metal they spit out. The reality is that when so many outfits often find themselves in creative purgatory in the maturity of their careers, this Michigan death metal titan keeps breathing.
Though Verminous shouldn't be misinterpreted as anything other than a death metal record - The Black Dahlia Murder do what they've always done here: they make plays for the kind of small intricacies that allow them to mould their own moniker. Extreme metal often finds bands that look to derive from a variety of elements, but few are able to find places for musical intruders quite like the Waterford quintet.
Take 'How Very Dead' for instance: a track that mimics the tonality and tempo of the classic Slayer effort 'South Of Heaven' as it climbs out of the gate, before exploding into a musical shift that brings pace, and the ever classic growls of Trevor Strnad to the forefront. The Black Dahlia Murder have an unusual knack of being able to flick from expansion to extreme metal 101 at light switch speed - a formula that rears its head more than once on Verminous.
Of course there's the no nonsense tracks that deserve the limelight too, 'Godlessly' has an opening drum fill that sounds like it was shot from a cannon, and 'The Wereworm's Feast' does an equally adept job at putting the tenacity of drummer Alan Cassidy at the forefront. Arguably his best record performance for the band to date: Cassidy is Verminous' standout performer, which is quite some praise when you consider the quality of those surrounding him.
Never settling solely for a mosh frenzy, Verminous has ace in the hole moments, like the fist pumping bridge of 'Child Of Night' or the stomp inducing 'The Leather Apron's Scorn', theoretically there's as much anthem here as there is technical death metal. It's this variety that sits as a welcome passage way that helps the record feel much more easily digestible.
It's easy to overlook The Black Dahlia Murder, what with the likes of Shadow Of Intent, Dealer, and Currents breaking through extreme metal with ideas of their own, but you shouldn't. Nigh-on twenty years into their battering career the five piece are still capable of producing records that more than return punches with today's new heavy hitters - a concept that is foreign to many bands as tried and tested at TBDM. Verminous is another jewel in the crown of one of extreme metal's most important, brilliant bands.