Metal Blade

A thrilling leap forward from 2017’s Nightbringers, the ninth album from Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder is arguably the melodic death metal band’s greatest accomplishment since forming almost two decades ago.

Chiefly recorded in the home studio of guitarist/vocalist Brandon Ellis, who joined up in 2016, Verminous benefits enormously from BDM’s claws-on approach.

The dripping caverns of the gatekeeping title track unleashes an army of orcs that surge forth from their subterranean lair like a scene ripped from Ralph Bakshi’s animated Lord Of The Rings feature. Galloping guitars keep pace as the infestation races along a path studded with crucified skeletons. Suddenly one of the corpses breaks into song. It’s lead vocalist Trevor Strnad! And, he is relentless.

The nigh celebratory mission continues as the face-flaying “Godlessly” tears open a circle pit hell-mouth that is as dramatic as it is gratifying. Military precision, gridline grinds and glorious double-kick machinations? They’ve got all that, but with painterly aspirations.

Medieval tapestry weavers whose hands fly with a modern momentum on cuts like “Removal of the Oaken Stake,” “The Leather Apron’s Scorn” and “The Wereworm’s Feast,” BDM isn’t afraid to throw itself headlong through a stained-glass window. Forgive them, Father.

Best track: “The Wereworm’s Feast”