The Black Dahlia Murder (band)

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The Black Dahlia Murder
The Black Dahlia Murder in 2016 (L to R: Brandon Ellis, Max Levelle, Alan Cassidy, Trevor Strnad, & Brian Eschbach)
The Black Dahlia Murder in 2016 (L to R: Brandon Ellis, Max Levelle, Alan Cassidy, Trevor Strnad, & Brian Eschbach)
Background information
OriginWaterford, Michigan, U.S.
GenresMelodic death metal
Years active2001–present
LabelsMetal Blade
  • Brian Eschbach
  • Max Lavelle
  • Alan Cassidy
  • Brandon Ellis
  • Ryan Knight
Past members
  • Trevor Strnad
  • John Deering
  • Mike Schepman
  • Cory Grady
  • Sean Gauvreau
  • John Kempainen
  • David Lock
  • Ryan "Bart" Williams
  • Zach Gibson
  • Pierre Langlois
  • Shannon Lucas

The Black Dahlia Murder is an American melodic death metal band from Waterford, Michigan, formed in 2001. Their name is derived from the 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, often referred to as Black Dahlia. Currently, the band consists of lead vocalist Brian Eschbach, bassist Max Lavelle, drummer Alan Cassidy, and guitarists Brandon Ellis and Ryan Knight. The Black Dahlia Murder has undergone various lineup changes, with Trevor Strnad and Eschbach remaining the only constant members, until the former's death in 2022, which then saw Eschbach take over lead vocals and Knight (who was the band's lead guitarist from 2009 to 2016 and rejoined the same year) replacing him on rhythm guitar.

Following the release of a 2001 demo album and a 2002 EP, the Black Dahlia Murder signed to Metal Blade Records in 2003, who released their debut studio album Unhallowed that same year. Out of the nine studio albums the band have released to date, the last eight have charted on the U.S. Billboard 200, with their fifth album Ritual peaking at No. 31 in 2011, marking them as one of the most popular contemporary American extreme metal bands. Their ninth and latest album, Verminous, was released on April 17, 2020.


Formation, Unhallowed and Miasma (2001–2006)

The Black Dahlia Murder in 2006. From left to right: Eschbach, former bassist Ryan Williams, former lead guitarist John Kempainen, Strnad and former drummer Pierre Langlois.

The Black Dahlia Murder began its inception during late 2000 and gained the final band lineup in January 2001. The group released their demo entitled What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, and a four-track EP, A Cold-Blooded Epitaph, the latter of which the group released on Lovelost Records. After appearing in concerts such as the Milwaukee Metal Fest, the Black Dahlia Murder signed to Metal Blade Records in 2003.[1]

Bassist Ryan "Bart" Williams left his former band, Detroit's Today I Wait, to tour with the Black Dahlia Murder. After touring with the band on their co-headlining gig with Throwdown and their European dates with Liar, he joined the group full-time, replacing former bassist David Lock. Frontman Trevor Strnad said that Lock was fired for incompetency.[2] Williams was one of two engineers (the other being Walls of Jericho's Mike Hasty) on the band's first full-length album, Unhallowed. The band then went on a tour in late 2004 supporting Unearth alongside Terror and Remembering Never throughout the United States.[3]

The band's second album Miasma was released on July 12, 2005, and peaked at No. 118 on the Billboard 200.[4] After touring for Miasma, drummer Zach Gibson left the band along with Pierre Langlois. While Gibson went on to join Abigail Williams, Langlois left the band for a more secure lifestyle, and the band finished their search for a replacement drummer when they found former All That Remains drummer, Shannon Lucas. The group played at Ozzfest 2005.

Nocturnal and Deflorate (2006–2010)

Ryan Knight in 2014

Their third album, entitled Nocturnal, was released on September 18, 2007. The album debuted at No. 72 on the Billboard 200.[5] The Black Dahlia Murder announced via their MySpace profile that they were going on a U.S. tour with Cannibal Corpse to promote their new album Nocturnal and celebrate the 25 years that Metal Blade Records had been in business. They were joined by label-mates The Red Chord, Aeon, The Absence, and Goatwhore. In January/February 2008, the band embarked on a U.S. headlining tour with 3 Inches of Blood, Hate Eternal, and Decrepit Birth, followed by another alongside Brain Drill and Animosity. They were on Hot Topic's "Summer Slaughter Tour"[6] with Kataklysm, Cryptopsy, Vader, Whitechapel, and Despised Icon.

Their longtime lead guitarist, John Kempainen left the band and was replaced by Ryan Knight during the beginning of 2009. In May 2009, the Black Dahlia Murder released their first DVD, "Majesty". The DVD contains a documentary and live footage from the Summer Slaughter tour and their tour supporting Children of Bodom in late 2008. The DVD also contains all of their music videos and behind the scenes footage.[7]

The Black Dahlia Murder released Deflorate on September 15, 2009, via Metal Blade Records. The album sold 12,000 copies in the United States in the first week of the release, debuted at position No. 43 Billboard's Top 200 charts, No. 5 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart, No. 4 on Billboard's Top Hard Music Albums chart, and No. 50 on HITS Top 50 Albums chart.[8] They toured with Children of Bodom and Skeletonwitch in support of the album. After their 2010 headlining tour with Goatwhore and Arkaik, the band began writing and recording their next full-length album.[9]

Ritual and member changes (2011–2013)

Alan Cassidy in 2016
Max Lavelle in 2018

In February 2011, the Black Dahlia Murder completed the songwriting process for their fifth studio album,[10] entitled Ritual.[11] It was released on June 21, 2011, in North America.[11] The band supported Amon Amarth on their May 2011 European tour,[12] as well as headlined the 2011 Summer Slaughter tour, both in support of Ritual.[13] Before the record's release, the track "Moonlight Equilibrium" was posted to the Metal Blade Records website on April 29, 2011, to critical and fan acclaim.[11] A music video for "Moonlight Equilibrium" was released on February 20, 2012. In April 2012 during the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival on the first night performance, Trevor Strnad officially welcomed new bassist Max Lavelle into the band after former bassist Ryan Williams parted ways. On November 7, Shannon Lucas announced via a YouTube video that he would be stepping down as drummer of the Black Dahlia Murder to pursue other aspirations. Alan Cassidy of Abigail Williams filled in for Shannon's touring duties.

Everblack and Abysmal (2013–2016)

In early 2013, despite the news of the departure of two band members (drummer Shannon Lucas and bassist Bart Williams), plans were announced for an upcoming album release, to be entitled Everblack. Tentative plans estimated its release to be early summer 2013, likely June. On April 10, 2013, the iTunes Store was updated with official release and availability information, including cover art, a full track listing, and an official U.S. release date of June 11, 2013. The album has 10 tracks in total. On the same day, the band's first single from Everblack was made available for purchase and download, titled "Into The Everblack". The album itself was then released on June 11 and peaked at No. 32 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

On November 28, 2014 (the day after Thanksgiving), the Black Dahlia Murder released a 7-inch EP titled Grind 'Em All featuring 3 short grindcore covers of punk rock songs: a cover of "Ripped Up" by Left for Dead, of "Rebel Without a Car" by Sedition and of "Populous" by Gyga.[14] The covers were originally recorded almost 10 years earlier during the era of Miasma.[14][15] The EP was released as part of Record Store Day's Black Friday event via A389 Recordings (rather than the band's label, Metal Blade Records),[16] made available for purchase on the band's online merchandise store[15] and also streamed in its entirety via Exclaim!.[17] The album art for Grind 'Em All was designed by Szymon Siech.[14][16]

Brandon Ellis in 2016

Lead guitarist Ryan Knight confirmed in early 2015 that the band will deliver a seventh studio release that year, followed by extensive touring, and that he is planning to start working on a solo album afterwards.[18][19][20] Vocalist Trevor Strnad stated that the band's new album, titled Abysmal, will be "more raw and natural sounding" and feature "more dynamic and developed songs" than their previous work.[21] "Vlad, Son of the Dragon", the first song from the album, was released online on June 24,[21] followed by "Receipt" on July 22[22] and "Threat Level No. 3" on August 19.[23] Abysmal was produced by Mark Lewis and Ryan Williams and released worldwide through Metal Blade on September 18.[21] In early February 2016, it was announced that Knight had left the band. He was replaced on lead guitar by Brandon Ellis of Arsis.[24]

Nightbringers, Verminous, Strnad's death and upcoming tenth studio album (2017–present)

The band's 8th album Nightbringers was released on October 6, 2017, to critical and commercial acclaim, charting at 35 on the Billboard 200.

The Black Dahlia Murder released their ninth studio album, Verminous, on April 17, 2020.[25]

On May 11, 2022, it was announced that the band's frontman Trevor Strnad had died. While no official cause of death has been given, the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was provided at the end of the statement.[26]

On September 14, 2022, the Black Dahlia Murder announced a tribute concert taking place for Trevor Strnad on October 28 at Saint Andrew's Hall in Detroit, supported by Darkest Hour and Plague Years. It was also announced that Brian Eschbach would be stepping down from guitar and taking over vocals, as Eschbach himself said in an interview with Decibel magazine: "I know Trevor would keep this band going if I went down a deep, dark path and weren't here." In Eschbach's place, Ryan Knight returned to the band as their rhythm guitarist.[27]

In November 2023, The Black Dahlia Murder entered the studio to begin recording their tenth studio album for a 2024 release.[28][29][30]


Co-founder and frontman Trevor Strnad in 2018

The Black Dahlia Murder headlined the 2008 Summer Slaughter Tour with Kataklysm, Vader, Cryptopsy, The Faceless, Despised Icon, Aborted, Born of Osiris, Psycroptic, and Whitechapel.[31] In late 2008, they joined a U.S. tour with Finland's Children of Bodom and Raleigh, NC's Between the Buried and Me. They were initially announced as "... with special guests" at the start of the tour, though it was later confirmed by Revolver Magazine that they were on tour. They appeared on the Hot Topic Stage in the 2009 Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. In late 2009, they embarked on a U.S. tour with Finland's Children of Bodom and Skeletonwitch. The band headlined the Bonecrusher Fest tour of Europe in Spring 2010 alongside 3 Inches of Blood, Necrophobic, Obscura, The Faceless, Carnifex and Ingested. In August 2010 they played at the Hevy Music Festival near Folkestone, UK. The band played the entire Warped Tour 2013. As a tribute to the 10th anniversary of the Nocturnal album, they headlined the 2017 Summer Slaughter Tour, performing the album in its entirety.[32]

Musical style and influences

Co-founder and the band's leading songwriter Brian Eschbach

The Black Dahlia Murder has been described as melodic death metal,[33][34][35][36] or simply death metal.[37][38][39] Their 2001 demo What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse has been described as metalcore.[40]

Influences for the band include heavy metal bands such as Carcass, At the Gates, Darkane, Dissection, Darkthrone, Morbid Angel, The Haunted, In Flames, Dimension Zero, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Pantera and Megadeth.[citation needed] Vocalist Trevor Strnad cited on many occasions that he was primarily influenced by Carcass in vocalizing technique.[citation needed]

When asked to describe what kind of music the band plays, Strnad commented:

"I've always said that we're melodic death metal. We are mostly influenced by Swedish bands and Carcass. The heavy end of our sound is the American style creeping in, with some Floridian influences like Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation and that kind of stuff. We've been labeled more often because of our look than our sound, which is dumb, and speaks volumes about what kind of geniuses are out there!"[41]

However, in an interview with Uranium Magazine, Strnad stated,

"Some bands that get labeled as metalcore are actually good, like Between the Buried and Me or The Red Chord. Metal is what I grew up with, and then I learned about punk and hardcore. But a lot of our ethics, the way we carry ourselves, is more punk... I like that hardcore has a sense of community without the competition you see in metal."[42]



  • Brian Eschbach – lead vocals (2022–present), rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2001–2022)
  • Max Lavelle – bass (2012–present)
  • Alan Cassidy – drums (2012–present)
  • Brandon Ellis – lead guitar, backing vocals (2016–present)
  • Ryan Knight – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2022–present), lead guitar (2009–2016)


  • Trevor Strnad – lead vocals (2001–2022; died 2022)
  • John Deering – lead guitar (2001–2002)
  • Mike Schepman – bass (2001)
  • Cory Grady – drums (2001–2004)
  • Sean Gauvreau – bass (2001–2002)
  • John Kempainen – lead guitar (2002–2008)
  • David Lock – bass (2002–2005)
  • Ryan "Bart" Williams – bass (2005–2012)
  • Zach Gibson – drums (2005)
  • Pierre Langlois – drums (2006)
  • Shannon Lucas – drums (2007–2012)



The Black Dahlia Murder discography
Studio albums9
Video albums2
Music videos12

Studio albums

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions


Hard Rock
  • Released: June 17, 2003
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
  • Released: July 12, 2005
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
118 1 5
  • Released: September 18, 2007
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download
72 6 20 7
  • Released: September 15, 2009
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
43 5 15 4
  • Released: June 17, 2011
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
31 6 9 3
  • Released: June 11, 2013
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
32 9 13 3 91
  • Released: September 18, 2015
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
45 12 15 8 66
  • Released: October 6, 2017
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
35 3 6 3 47
  • Released: April 17, 2020
  • Label: Metal Blade
  • Format: CD, digital download, vinyl
99 7
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Demos and EPs

Music videos

Year Song Director
2003 "Funeral Thirst"
2006 "A Vulgar Picture"
"Miasma" Joe Lynch[49]
"Statutory Ape"
2007 "Everything Went Black"
"What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse"
2009 "Necropolis"
2011 "Moonlight Equilibrium" Dave Brodsky[50]
2013 "Goat of Departure"
2015 "Receipt" Robert Graves[51]
2016 "Threat Level No. 3" Adam Avilla[52]
2017 "Nightbringers" Vince Edwards[53]
2018 "Kings of the Night World" Marshall Wieczorek[54]
2020 "Child of Night" Vesa Ranta & Kaira Films[55]


  • Majesty (May 12, 2009)
  • Fool 'Em All (May 27, 2014)


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External links