Having just released arguably their most polished studio album to date, Michigan’s The Black Dahlia Murder are a permanent fixture in the current metal landscape. Guitarist Ryan Knight kindly caught up with Killyourstereo recently to chat about new full-length ‘Ritual’, with the musician additionally discussing his despise of the current ‘deathcore’ scene, the band’s trademark lyrics and the possibility of a return to our shores for Soundwave.
G’day mate, Kane from Killyourstereo. Hope all is well. Just to get things started could you please state your name, role in the band and your favourite metal record of 2011 so far.
Hi, Ryan Knight, (I play) guitar. And i’m gonna say Ghost – ‘Opus Eponymous’ is my favourite record of 2011 thus far.
Last time we spoke with you guys, Black Dahlia were gearing up to tour Australia again, how are things going with yourself and the band at the moment?
Things are all well here in The Black Dahlia Murder camp. We took 7 months off recently to write and record the new album. It was nice to be at home a little while, and also be productive. We are just about to leave today for a European festival run, which should be cool. Lots of touring coming up here throughout this year and the next.
Obviously, new studio album ‘Ritual’ is the main topic of conversation currently. The album is incredibly solid if I may say so. Can you give the KYS readers some further insight into the release.
‘Ritual’ is a really varied album. There are lots of different influences coming into play on this one. I think fans will find that there is something for everyone on this release. The song writing on this album was was pretty much split 50/50 between Brian and myself. I think the end result was a pretty dynamic mesh between The Black Dahlia Murder sound fans know with newer elements thrown in. Also there are some tracks which take a more groove laden approach instead of the fast-paced blasting the band is known for.
You got Mark Lewis to come back and produce. Was that an easy decision to make?
The band has known Mark for sometime now, and we also worked with him on the last album ‘Deflorate’. Mark, as well as Jason Suecof are great dudes, and really know how to capture the sound that we are looking for. So yeah, (it was) a very easy decision.
What did he bring to the table this time around?
His great hair and personality, as well as some cool ideas and overall good ear for sick jizz worthy tones.
Haha, fair enough. It’s no secret that ‘Ritual’ is bound by a certain concept this time around. The band has never shied away from provocative and often engaging lyrics and themes. What malevolent characteristics can we expect this time around? Any secret, dark, cryptic messages when we play the album in reverse?
I don’t know about secret reversed messages, but there is definitely some pretty controversial lyrics on the album. Just check out the song ‘The Window’ and you will see. Trevor did a great job with the lyrics, and I think fans will find that the darker messages he brings are still there, with also some added surprises.
Do you think its important to balance and approach a confronting genre like metal with an almost light-hearted nature? It seems most people think metalheads are all angry, bitter loners but you guys seem willing to mix a serious musical front with humour and a bit of fun as well.
All in all I think death metal is a pretty comical genre of music. I mean how serious can you be when you have a guy screaming at the top of his lungs, some dude on drums hitting shit as fast as possible, and guitarists playing riffs as fast as possible with heavily distorted guitars. A lot of people find death metal laughable, but don’t realise the skill that also goes into playing this sort of music. I think its always good not to take yourself to seriously though.
Agreed. In the press release that accompanied the announcement of ‘Ritual’ you guys were pretty strong on the whole downloading thing. In your eyes, is the advent of illegal downloading deterring bands from writing music? On the one hand yes, it creates exposure, but equally being in a band seems to not generate much money at the best of times (particularly being in a metal band). You used the term "cut-throat" business. Is this trying to draw people’s attention to the current unfairness of music?
The music business i’m pretty sure has all ways been cut throat and unfair. That’s just how the game works. Record labels were asking for it when they were selling CDs for 20 bucks and pop with maybe 1 or 2 good songs on them. Of course people aren’t gonna buy shit when they can get it for free, but they need to realise that is not helping the band. If no record sales are being generated then no money is going back to the label or the band. Selling CDs helps make sure that the band can still have money to put out another album the next time around. I don’t foresee CD sales getting any better, but I still feel lucky that we even sell as many CDs as we do.
Metal is in a situation where there are so many genres (and sub-genres) and labelling etc. Is there any bands and/or trends that you personally cannot stand to the point that you think it’s having a negative impact on the genre as a whole?
There’s a million bands out there that I cant stand but i’m not gonna talk shit on anyone. I think metal is a really over saturated market right now. There are so many bands out now, who I honestly couldn’t tell you if they’re good or bad because i’ve never even heard them. So many bands out now. Usually I would think that metal would take a hit from having so many bands out that sound exactly the same. I guess the whole ‘death core’ genre I really hate. We get lumped in with that shit sometimes and I have no idea why. I really hope that shit goes away soon though because it seems to be producing the most uninspired music at the moment.
You guys love to party and enjoy yourselves on the road. However, what does an average day at home entail for a member of the Black Dahlia Murder?
When i’m at home I don’t really do much. Don’t drink , don’t smoke, pretty much just hang with my daughter and play guitar. I also watch a lot of Netflix, and go out to a bar every now and again, but other than that not much.
And just some quick ones to finish with before we let you go,
If you could pick any pop song to cover and give it the Black Dahlia treatment, which one would it be?
I’d pick a NOFX song. I don’t know if you would consider that a pop song, but I consider NOFX a pop punk band. Not sure what song I would pick? Probably something off White Trash, or Ribbed.
Favourite up and coming bands readers should check out?
I don’t know about too many up and comers? Ghost is cool. Um, Battlecross from Michigan are cool. I’m so out of the loop with new music sorry.
Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ or At the Gates’ ‘Slaughter of the Soul’?
I’d give it to ‘Reign in Blood’.
Australia loves seeing you guys play down here. Any plans to come back to Oz in the foreseeable future?
I hear we will be returning to Australia pretty soon. Hopefully Soundwave? Not really too sure yet?
Any final words for the Killyourstereo readers.
I hope everyone will come see us play when we are back in Oz, and please pickup our new album ‘Ritual’. Thank you for the interview.
Cheers Ryan, take care.
You can read Killyourstereo‘s review of ‘Ritual‘ here.