Interview: Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder
For over 15 years now, The Black Dahlia Murder have earned an army of devout followers through dropping seven killer album, and touring relentlessly all over the world. They are one of the most consistent and hard working death metal bands ever, and their 8th studio album Nightbringers shows zero sign of the band slowing down. Nightbringers is truly a testament to their collective work over the years and quite possibly their best work to date. Accomplished, aggressive, and emotionally diverse through their music, the Michigan quintet have once again pushed themselves to new heights. What you'll hear on the new album is 34 minutes of melodic death metal with rich with dynamic riffs that are all at once fresh and classic TBDM that is sure to satisfy and deliver. We spoke with the mighty Trevor Strnad (vocals) about making Nightbringers, his love for death metal, Australia and much more.
Exciting times ahead for The Black Dahlia Murder with Nightbringers almost out. how's everything feeling right now for you guys?
Oh yeah man! Just a few more days, and presales are flying off the shelves, we're breaking records over at Metal Blade. It looks kind of amazing from where we're sitting right now and I'm just sort of reveling in all of this excitement.
Is there a different feeling about this new record now that it's complete and you've had a chance to hear it compared to previous releases?
I'm so proud man, I feel like a proud daddy. I really do feel as though this is our proudest moment as a band. I think everything we've done has been heading towards this record, Nightbringers. I also feel like it's a substantial jump in quality compared to the last album, which I'm still proud of and it wasn't a bad record at all. It's very exciting to have so much love coming from the fans right now and so much of a unanimous praise for the two songs we've released so far. It seems like it's just going to be an awesome time for us in the future man, so we're really, really excited.
For sure. There's a very Nocturnal-esque theme going on with this new album, from the artwork to even the sound. Was that kind of what you were going for?
I think sound wise it's just a coincidence, but I'm definitely with you on the artwork. I was trying to make a nod to Nocturnal, as it's the 10th anniversary of the album. I'm always the guy that's picking out the artwork and I try to keep the fans on their toes with it by going to someone different everytime. So I thought they wouldn't expect bringing it full circle like we did, and also I had this theory that Kristian Wahlin (death metal artist) has done a lot of classic records, so I thought hey man, let's make a classic record. Let's make it look the part and then be it, you know?
You guys are one of the most consistent death metal bands out there, releasing a new album every two years and never losing a step. Does it get harder or easier for the band?
It's hard to say, I guess it's a little of both honestly. There's definitely some parts that have gotten easier, you know, it's not as stressful to be in the studio as it once was. When I was young the first few times, it was really overwhelming. But as we make better and better records, it's more of a challenge to outdo what we've done in the past. But yeah, it's strange, definitely a little of both. You're also a fantastic lyricist, I've always been a fan of your writing.
Are there any songs on the new album that fans might be surprised or excited to find out the meaning of?
Thanks for the compliment man, I appreciate it. Yeah, I think fans are definitely going to like what I've done if they're into what we're doing. Lyrically, it's the most monstrous and most macabre album that we've ever done. I just tried to ramp up the darkness to just as much as possible basically. There's a lot of evil characters on the new record, a lot of blood and guts. I think the song 'Matriarch' is the most surprising to fans, as it's from the point of view from a woman who is trying to get pregnant without having any luck. So she stalks this other pregnant chick and finds the perfect time to run her off the road and basically cuts the baby out of her stomach in the backseat of a car. So I mean, it's very death metal but it's from a woman's perspective and it also has ties to an actual occurrence that happened in Denver, which is pretty sick and pretty sad. Real life can sometimes get more death metal than you can possibly try and think up.
That scenario you just told reminds me of the movie 'Inside' which is pretty disturbing, have you seen that?
Oh yes that was also an influence on the song as well. Inside is a killer movie!
If you could trade places with anyone in the music world for one day, who would it be?
I'd really like to sing for Defeated Sanity for a day. I really love brutal death metal, it's one of my favourites. It's not really a world that I've been a part of musically, you know? I do buy tonnes of albums and I got to shitloads of shows, but I've never played in a brutal death metal band. They're just the kings man and to me they're just the best thing that's ever happened to brutal death metal in aeons. I think they're a really special band and I think they should be getting a lot more props than they do, and yeah, I would definitely sing for Defeated Sanity.
Have you ever said the the guys in your band, hey listen, we should step it up a notch and go in that brutal death metal direction since you're such a fan? Or are you just happy doing what you do best and sticking with the formula that works?
We're pretty much going to stay the course. We've had this melting pot of melodic death metal, thrash metal and black metal for such a long time. There's been brutal moments, there's been parts here and there that have trickled in. But by and large I don't really see us changing the course of the band in that way.
As a band you've toured Australia quite a number of times now, what is it about this country that makes you want to come back so often?
It's just the vibe man, I love how laid back everyone is there. I love the dedication to metal, there's a lot of metalheads and a lot of lifers you know what I mean? In that way, it reminds me of Europe man, the people there are just really devoted to metal. I love that and I love the scene over there, there's a lot of really cool bands. I quite enjoy your country I must say.
Nightbringers is sure to end up on a lot of peoples end of year top albums list. But what's currently sitting at the top for best album of 2017 so far for you personally?
Oh man, it would have to be the new Obituary record, the self titled one. I've listened to it countless time now since it came out. I also really like Venenum, I'm wearing their shirt right now ironically, those guys are from Germany and their album is called Trance of Death. It's sort of like Necrophobic meets Tribulation, it's got the black/dark/death thing but there's also a lot of drama to it as well. I think that's one of the best things that I've heard this year, it's really a striking album.
Back to your new album, Nightbringers, when recording and writing was it a pretty smooth process this time around? Any hiccups or hurdles getting it done?
It was really, really smooth actually. There was just so much excitement going into this record with Brandon Ellis coming into the fold on guitar, it was just written really fast and we were all working together really well. We were responding to each others ideas for material and for what each person had written and played. There was a lot more bouncing ideas off of each other than there was previously, and I think that the new album is stronger for it. I knew it was going to be special from the ground up, and just from hearing the very first couple of songs this huge wave of excitement came over me. It made me want to try harder than ever and I did, it had the same effect on everybody.
Thanks so much Trevor, do you have any words or a message for you Aussie fans who are looking forward to Nightbringers?
Yeah man, totally. Pick up the record, you're gonna like it, and it's got some of the strongest songs that we've ever written. It's the most proud moment for the band in our 16 year career. We will come back to Australia so that we can eat up all of your pies and drink all of your beer.
Written by Steve Jenkins
Listen to the new track "Matriarch" below: