Sound — 10
A fine example of melodic death metal, this album took what The Black Dahlia Murder did on their previous album and perfected it. With Nocturnal, they grooved out their own niche in the extreme metal world. They kept the same idea on this record and amplified it ten times over. The guitars hold a snarling sense of grit while expressing every last note in completely clarity, even more so than on Nocturnal. Rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach keeps the melodically brutal riffs coming on this album, and even took help from Bart (bass) and Ryan (lead guitar) for several of the songs. Ryan Knight flexes his muscles on his first album with this band and rips the solos to pieces. He adds his own flavor to the solos of this effort, but keeps the melodic style in tact that Dahlia is known for. The solos on this album are significantly shreddier than on past albums, and will take some getting used to. He also has a much more mid heavy sound with his guitar on his solos than former guitarist John Kempainen did. The bass lines on this album are much more noticeable than on past works, standing in the mix of things much better. They keep up to speed with the quick working guitars and even break off into their own separate melody at certain points on the album (notably on "Denounced, Disgraced"). The drums are as fast and tight as ever, and then some. Shannon Lucas has improved his playing to an all time high with this effort, with tricky double bass patterns, lightning fast blasts (notably on "Death Panorama"), and interesting fill and groove work. Each song on the album identifies itself from the others, holding its own specific feel and sound. There is not any one "bad" song on this album, but some of the standouts (besides their widely popular single "Necropolis") are "Black Valor", "I Will Return", and "A Selection Unnatural". My personal favorite is "That Which Erodes the Most Tender of Things" which has worked its way up to one of my all time favorite songs. The album will take several listens from top to bottom to fully comprehend and enjoy, even for the most devoted of Dahlia fans. There's simply too much offered on this album to take it all in with one listen.
Lyrics — 9
Trevor Strnad has always been on of, if not my favorite extreme metal vocalists. He altered the sound of his low growls on this album from Nocturnal, which some may be a little weary of at first, but they grow on you. He uses an almost mid ranged growl on this record, to add a little flavor in between the high rasps and low grows. His highs are even raspier and, to put it simply, higher than on previous efforts. He exhibits wonderful ability to control and sustain his vocals (notably on the pre-solo verse of "Eyes of Thousand"). His lyrical work on this album surpasses anything he has ever done. Strnad keeps with themes that Dahlia is known for, and adds a few new styles to the mix this time around, dipping into sci-fi elements of a horribly disfigured child confounding scientists and doctors alike ("A Selection Unnatural") and cryogenics ("I Will Return"). However, being Trevor, he manages to work elements of anti-religion into most of the songs on the album. His lyrics also hold great amounts of poetic beauty, as in the past. "That Which Erodes the Most Tender of Things" rivals Nocturnal's "Deathmask Divine" with its fixation on loving someone too much to let go of them after death. "That Which Erodes..." exhibits some of the finest lyrical work I've ever read, pulling at the heartstrings of the reader with its story about a mother who cannot give up her stillborn child and treats it as though it were alive. I didn't think Strnad's lyrical and vocal skills could improve much from their past album, but he managed to prove me wrong.
Overall Impression — 10
This album might as well be melted into my car stereo, for it has been playing since I bought it. This album is my personal favorite of 2009, and a strong contender for an all time favorite slot. It is definitely comparable to Dahlia's previous effort, Nocturnal, and identifies itself from their first two albums. For those who want to stick more with the darker sound and themes, Nocturnal may be more for you. Deflorate, however, is a much more finely tuned and expanded version of Nocturnal. With several listens from top to bottom, I feel this album can take the title of the bands best to date.