Trevor Strnad, iconic screamer of Death Metal stalwarts The Black Dahlia Murder is a chill guy, from a jovial band in the chaotic and furious world of Death Metal. It’s almost an oxymoron.
Comfortably reporting on enjoying some rare downtime at home, Strnad notes it’s been a busy touring cycle, one which came hot off the huge success of ‘Nightbringers,’ which made it into the Billboard Top 40. “Yeah, this record has been really big, it exceeded all expectations of what it’d do for us,” he beams, like a proud father. “We’ve even been touring a little bit longer than we normally would, just because things seem to be going so well.”
Exciting for a band that, eight albums and 17 years in are hitting bigger strides than ever before. “It’s the right album at the right time for our fans,” Strnad notes with conviction. “It has a lot of excitement with Brandon (Ellis, ex-Arsis) coming into the fold as the new lead guitar player – he definitely left a noticeable touch on the album.”
Indeed, the newest addition has been a massive influence on some arena-rock showmanship amongst the brutality of ‘Nightbringers.’ “He’s a 26-year old rocker,” Strnad notes with a hint of vigour. “He’s not like every other 26-year old – his favourite bands are like Saga and Starship and Yes. He’s definitely from that 80s shredder school, so that’s a lot of what you’re hearing.” Anyone who has been privy to ‘Nightbringers’ can definitely attest to this, with many grandiose and larger-than-life solos, sweeps and other tricks amongst the Death Metal cavalcade.
Careful in order not to slight ex-guitarist Ryan Knight, “who was amazing for his tenure with us,” Strnad discusses how their newest addition is highly educated musically, a studio aficionado, and ecstatically keen. With an 11 year gap between them, the vocalist notes that, “We love seeing Brandon so bright-eyed and excited – he’s a total monster onstage and we’re fighting to keep up with him.” Considering the Herculean level of frenzied energy the band radiate from their live performances, a new level of energy onstage sounds almost like a terrifying presence.
However, like the breezy air of our interviewee, The Black Dahlia Murder are as infamous for light-hearted banter and their jovial nature as they are for their note-precise brutality on and off stage. Strnad reflects on how, earlier in their careers, the band were just going to “let the music do the talking.” However, things apparently took their own lively personality early on. “We spun off with these weird band photos of us punching each other in the face,” Strnad chuckles, “and because we couldn’t afford effects, our clips were pretty lo-fi. There was one where we took the budget and just spent it getting trashed.” Explains a lot about what Strnad refers to as “the party personality” of the band.
Eluding that tough guy hyper-masculinity many Extreme Metal bands aim for, Strnad slowly realised that, over time, this quirkiness was an asset, not a fault. “At first, I wanted to hide being a goofball nerd with glasses, but in a weird way that helps us stand out – we let our personality seep into our live performances.”
This is not to diminish the band’s strenuous work ethic, which not only includes extensive touring but a regular thoroughfare of quality Death Metal. “We wanted to keep new music coming out as often as possible, keeping today’s short attention spans in check,” he notes.
“Since the Internet era has become more prominent, music has become more disposable. It’s becoming harder to stay fresh in people’s minds.” When you’ve got multiple, free, jam-packed streaming services instantly available, it can be hard to be heard above the din. In this vein, Strnad notes that, “In a given day, a kid can listen to any band he wants to, or an entire genre’s worth of s**t – it’s a completely different world.”
That said, this is Trevor Strnad we’re talking about here. The dude is infamous for perpetually having his finger to the pulse in Extreme Metal spheres, old and new. He proclaimed his love for Macabre, Hoth, Soreption and Crawl particularly at present. Australian music copped high praise, too. “Psycroptic, especially,” he notes. “I’m always playing their records – they’re gods in my eyes. I’ve also been flogging a lot of Revulsed, Misery and Laceration Mantra.”
Aside from our local extreme talent, Strnad is adamant of our status as a country he feels at home with touring a Death Metal band for. “You’re a very metal place,” he boasts. “All of you guys eat lightning and s**t chains.” He’s fast to assure us that Australia is indeed a hotbed of heavy talent, singing praises of the scene and our crowds in general.
“Dude, you guys are very Metal out there,” he reiterates. “We’re looking forward to crazy-ass packed shows, playing with Aborted who have ‘TerrorVision’ dropping during the tour – they’re also crazy excited.” Candidly, he also adds that, “While we love your laidback-ness, god damn you guys can rage! We want you guys to rage with us.”
You heard the man. Seems we have a bit of a reputation to live up to. Let’s show The Black Dahlia Murder, Aborted and supports just how electrifying our hunger for Death Metal is, but most importantly how hard we can rage as a continent of rabid heavy music fiends. It’s the least we owe these Extreme Metal legends.
Tickets available here!