The Black Dahlia Murder Heading To RAMFEST 2020 [Interview]

The Black Dahlia Murder

An interview with The Black Dahlia Murder

RAMFEST has recently announced that they are bringing death metal giants The Black Dahlia Murder as headliners for the 2020 editions of the festival. The band will be headlining both the Cape Town (13th March 2020) and Pretoria (14th March 2020) events.

I recently interviewed vocalist Trevor Strnad to find out more about their upcoming album and tour to South Africa:

First, you are releasing a new album around April. Tell me about that and what fans can expect from this new offering?

Yes, April 17th we are releasing our ninth album, “Verminous” on Metal Blade records. Fans can expect our most dynamic, colourful, and gripping album yet. The evolution that began with Brandon’s entrance into the band with Nightbringers has gone even further with Verminous.  

Who will be working with you on this one and where are you recording?

Most of the album was recorded in-house by our guitarist Brandon.  He did much of the production himself. The drums were handled by our ex-bassist Ryan “Bart” Williams, who has been a long-time collaborator with the band, but the rest of us were tracked by Brandon at his home studio in New Jersey. When everything was finally done and nit-picked into oblivion, we sent it to Tue Madsen for mixing. Finally, the album was mastered by Alan Douches at West Westside.

Looking forward to it! So, you’ve been around for almost 20 years. Today, we see many bands come and go, what do you guys think it is that keeps you together?

I think laughter is the main ingredient that keeps us together through the hard times. Friendship. We are celebrating our victories together as a unit, and doing our best to honour the amazing opportunity we were afforded by Metal Blade records so many years ago. The love from our fans is very inspiring. That they eagerly await our next moves is always inspirational.

And how do you think the metal scene has changed from the early 2000s? Especially with regards to commentary in lyrics. What do bands write about now compared to then?

I think it has been a major upswing since the year 2000. I came into extreme metal in 95, after the initial wave of its success began to die down.  I was alone in my love for death metal, at least in my world. Nowadays, I imagine there are far more black-clad people crowding high schools. Heavy music is for the youth!

As far as lyrics go, I think a lot more bands have become political, as a response to the heated climate of things. I also think a lot of death metal is moving away from misogynistic lyrics.

And how do you think you as a band have evolved since 2001? I mean, what has been some big changes for you over the years?

I see it as a slow evolution for the better. I think we’ve known the basic TBDM songwriting formula for a long time now, but it’s the small details and minutiae we’ve learned to incorporate that makes the real difference.  Dynamics are everything, even in a band that’s largely fast. I think a significant moment in this growth was the writing of Ritual. At that time we figured out how to use some samples live which enabled us to incorporate different instruments to accent things (string sections, piano keys, etc). This really helped us spice the songwriting up to a new level, giving the songs more individuality than before.

The Black Dahlia Murder
David E. Jackson

You are touring to South Africa in March, I’ve read that this will be your first time here? What have you heard about SA, perhaps from other bands, and what do you hope to see and do here between your shows?

Yes, it will be our first time ever in your beautiful country. The only things I know about South Africa I learned from Starship Troopers… just kidding.  A few of the bands we’re friends with (including Darkest Hour and Cannibal Corpse) have touched down in South Africa and reported back nothing but positive things. I’ve noticed quite a number of South African fans on our various social media outlets over the years.  It feels good to finally get to play our music for those who have been waiting so long. I hope to soak up some nice weather and do some sightseeing.

Absolutely! So, can you give us a few hints around the setlist? Any songs that will definitely be in there?

The setlist will be a mix of new and old. There are certain staples like “Deathmask Divine” and “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse” that almost HAVE to be in a TBDM set, but there will be a few surprises, including some new material from the upcoming album. South Africa will be the first people to hear any of the new albums live. You guys get to be the guinea pigs for our new material.

Awesome!! Looking forward to that. Have you heard any South African bands before?

Bleeding Spawn and Vulvodynia are the only two bands I’m familiar with.  Both are great.

And for any upcoming metal bands in SA, what advice can you give them?

My advice is to think globally. Take a page from Vulvodynia’s playbook.  They’ve been quite successful and have been able to tour in Europe and the USA and beyond. Use social media to the utmost extent and really put in work to communicate with your fans on a one to one basis.  I would also advise newer bands to look into using Bandcamp as a platform for getting their music out there. It can be a great placeholder for a lot of the functions of a record label.

You also have quite a big tour in North America after your trip to South Africa. You’re probably also planning to add some dates after the release of the new album? Which other countries are you touring to this year and with so many dates on a tour, how do you keep the energy going every day?

Yes, our tour in April and May with Testament and Municipal Waste will surely be the biggest tour we’ve ever had the pleasure of being part of.  Then after that, we have some festival appearances throughout Europe.  There’s talk of doing our own headlining tour of the states in the Fall… So far, that’s all I know about. We are just starting the formative planning for what will surely end up being two or three years of solid touring for Verminous. I imagine we’ll hit Australia, South America, Mexico, Europe again (with a headliner), UK… the list goes on.

The friendship we share as bandmates and the responsibility to be a good live band to our fans keeps us going every day. We are constantly celebrating small victories that keep the fire alive under our butts.

Lastly, we are super excited for RAMFEST 2020 and having you guys here. Do you have a message for your fans here?

We are extremely excited to finally reach South African soil for the first time. My message to you fans is to hurl your weed at us whilst we’re onstage. We will be very thankful!

The Black Dahlia Murder Heading To RAMFEST 2020

Ramfest 2020

Cape Town
DATE: 13th MARCH 2020

The Black Dahlia Murder
Van Coke Kartel
Facing the Gallows
The Valley
Metallica Tribute



Ramfest 2020


DATE: 14th MARCH 2020

The Black Dahlia Murder
 Van Coke Kartel
The Black Cat Bones
Newtown Knife Gang
Truth and its Burden
Man As Machine
LA Cobra
Sunken State
Caution Boy

Kyle Russouw
Lady M
Black Lake


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