This Wretched Underworld
Guitar World|Holiday 2020
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER’S BRANDON ELLIS AND BRIAN ESCHBACH TALK TONE HUNTING, SONGCRAFT AND OPERATING ON THE ODDER END OF THE SPECTRUM
David Von Bader

AFTER NEARLY 20 years in the game, the Black Dahlia Murder are an undeniable institution of death metal. Their pummeling fusion of American death metal’s rhythmic churn, European death metal’s melodic sensibilities, prog’s technicality, and the vicious riffing of classic thrash has developed over the years into a truly unique sound; this is a band with a distinct musical personality that strikes a remarkable balance between innovation and familiarity. Throughout their discography, the Black Dahlia Murder has shirked metal’s ever-shifting trends, electing instead to hone and elaborate upon their own sound. With their latest LP, Verminous, the Michigan-bred crew have spawned their most cohesive and focused collection of songs yet.

Verminous is a 10-track maelstrom of stank-face-inducing riffs and searing lead guitar vignettes that recall the melodic intrigue, whammy bar abuse, and wide vibrato drama of your favorite Eighties guitar heroes. The man behind Verminous’ stunning lead guitar work (as well as the album’s production and much of its songwriting) is the band’s newest member, Brandon Ellis. While Ellis was on hand for the band’s last record, 2017’s Nightbringers, he was fresh to the group at the time and admittedly still finding his sea legs. On Verminous, his contributions as a songwriter, producer, and soloist provide the X-factor that makes the album a fresh and streamlined take on the Black Dahlia Murder’s sound.

GW caught up with Ellis and founding member and rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach to discuss crafting the band’s new record, their bromance as co-guitarists, and Ellis’ background as a student of Eighties guitar heroics.

The Black Dahlia Murder have never drastically changed their sound and have always evolved within their own idiom. How do you approach developing as a band without repeating yourselves or going too far out?

BRANDON ELLIS: The goal is never really to change our sound, but to add new elements that make the music more dynamic. I’m familiar with our live staple songs and the shows are a really good way to gauge how our music works with people. I pay attention to that and always try to contribute music that’s going to add something new to our live set. Brian is always going to deliver that super-classic Black Dahlia Murder stuff, so I try to write things that reach toward the odder end of the spectrum, but within our sound and in a way that’ll blend well with our classics.

BRIAN ESCHBACH: We’ve never specifically tried to grow. When I write, it’s a really organic thing that just comes from playing around on the guitar; hopefully, an idea shows up that I can build on. My process is ignorant; if a riff ends up being in a weird time signature or something, I find that out from someone else after writing it.

How is writing divided between you guys?

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