Sunday, June 19, 2011

TNM REVIEW: The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual


Most likely unbeknownst to them, their fans, or the sane people in the community of extreme music listeners, The Black Dahlia Murder is a band that probably stirs up more controversy than any other within the true metal community. There are a large group of metalheads that for whatever reason, just hate this band to its very core. This is all and good I suppose, as there are many "true" metal bands out there that I can't stand either. You should know that personal opinions finally carry some weight with me once we are safely within the realm of metal truth. It makes much more sense to me to favor some good music over other good music, as opposed to liking fake metal or anything that's not metal. Which, as I have thoroughly educated you to already know, sucks and isn't worth anybody's time. Period. However, sometimes there are dimmer metalheads that confuse their personal taste with the black and white philosophy of "true" and "false". Case in point: tons of you guys hate Pantera. Fine. But they're definitely a metal band, so shut your fucking face about me writing a "Violation" about them.

We find ourselves in a very similar situation with Michigan-based melodic death metal band, The Black Dahlia Murder. I'll say that again. Melodic death metal band. The Black Dahlia Murder. Love or hate the band, that is truly in fact, what they are. They're not deathcore genius, shut your suck hole. Even though I kept their music at a pessimistic arm's length with their earlier material, they have proven to me time and time again with every release that they have the death metal chops to be here, and more importantly, be respected. Haters take note: Ritual is definitely their most powerful release to date, with spine-tingling highs, devastating lows, furious guitar solos, catchy hooks that will tenaciously stick with you, punishing double-bass beats, and grooves guaranteed to make your head bang if you just let it happen. Ritual is TBDM doing what they do best and even better than before. It is a truly amazing album, and easily earns this cynical metal douchebag's seal of approval.

Former Arsis guitarist Ryan Knight made his TBDM debut in 2009 with the album Deflorate, and took the band's music to technical grounds they had yet to achieve, (along with garnering them a bit more true metal street cred). Meanwhile, not getting so lead-crazy that he would compromise the band's blunt and heavy underlying death metal sound. In Ritual, however, the chains come off, and Knight holds nothing back. Rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach said about recording Ritual with Knight, "It's been more collaborative than it's been in years... The last two albums I wrote most of the music and this one it's almost a 50-50 effort between me and Knight." It's immediately clear that Knight holds no qualms in strutting his epic Arsis-level guitar mastery on Ritual, and proceeds to melt faces with blistering sweeps, hair-raising leads, whammy-bar powered vibratos, and more tapping than River Dance. He is like an extreme martial artist, and the Ibanez guitar is his violently flailing nunchakus. I love this guy's style as a guitarist, and I'm hard pressed to tell you that Ritual is worth a listen for at least its guitar work, if you find nothing else to enjoy about it.

Playing Ouija like KVLT mother fuckers. (I think...) The limited edition Ritual box set comes with such a board.
So easily the most common complaint I've heard against TBDM lies in the vocal work of Trevor Strnad. Certainly there are no issues to be heard from anyone regarding his low gutturals, and on Ritual they sound as brutal as ever. His highs, however, are what seem to turn people off. He has, for the lack of a better description, a sort of Gollum-esque screech and gurgle to his higher snarl, and it has been abhorred by many a metal fan since he firmly established it as his signature vocal style in Miasma; as we only start to hear the beginnings of it in Unhallowed. I personally find no issue with it, but won't deny that it's a characteristic that greatly sets TBDM apart from other death metal acts, and might alienate some people. I consider his vocals a blood-curdling fit to their gory/blasphemous lyrics and blackened death metal style. TBDM just wouldn't be TBDM without him. Strnad does an excellent job on Ritual of matching the highs and lows of each song's progression with the appropriate vocal tone, and although it may be musically different from previous albums, he doesn't sound the least bit out of place here. 

Ritual is also more artistically progressive than previous TBDM releases. From the sound effects of long ships crashing against icy waves, to the use of orchestra instruments. Instruments reserved for the symphony when taken and utilized for awesome metal songs is always a surefire way to get my musical boner fully engorged and raging. Oh baby, is that some violin and cello? Jesus Christ, yes. Fucking stroke those strings. Make me feel sophisticated:


Knight also busts out an acoustic guitar for the intro in the track Carbonized in Cruciform. What? Acoustic intro in a death metal song? That's called a "calm before the storm", fool. Just when you think you're chilling out with your hippie friend, Ryan Knight at a camp fire and he's strumming his dreadnought and everything's cool, you realize that he's actually holding an Ibanez Prestige, Shannon Lucas is pulverizing his drum kit behind him with precision beat-making mastery, and the bonfire is actually your face consumed in flame from the unbridled brutality. In heavy metal, that's how you do fucking art. 

If you were or are one of the purist metalheads who stuck your nose up at The Black Dahlia Murder, I'll tell you right now, with an album as supreme as Ritual, and especially considering how I'm a way more celebrated, revered and an eternally greater purist metalhead than you, I'm having a very difficult time understanding where you're coming from. I grew up listening to extreme metal genres, forged in the fires of death, black and melodeath bands of the truest nature. TBDM easily resides and belongs in these halls, regardless of what you might think of their name, fashion sense, vocal style, country of origin, or the like. I'm convinced that if TBDM were from a Scandinavian country, had a one word name you couldn't pronounce covered in umlauts, a bunch of lanky, leather jacket wearing, blonde long-haired swedes for members, and formed five years before they did, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. 

Ritual is a truly great melodic death metal epic and quite possibly a strong contender for the best album of 2011. It's more powerful musically, progressively, lyrically and vocally than any other TBDM release to date, and I think the band has finally found its perfect equilibrium in utilizing the skills of all its musicians, new and old. Even if you weren't too huge on them before, I think Ritual just might make you into a believer, and if the trend of increasingly better albums continues, I'm excited to see what else The Black Dahlia Murder has in store for us in the near future. Until then, I'm going to put on "The Raven" and try not to commit homicide during the chorus.

- Brenocide \,,/

63 comments:

  1. I admit, I was one of the haters of this band. But, you have changed me with showing me this new stuff of theirs. It really isn't bad. I just hate that they wanna be cool like all the other kids and pretend to be Satanic. Other than that, I finally admit that The Black Dahlia Murder really isn't that bad.

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  2. Best stuff from them so far but I probably will not become a regular listener anytime soon. Also the art work reminds me of the more recent Crack the Skye art from Mastodon.

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  3. This is a good album indeed. They seem to have completely ditched the core elements from their previous stuff and here we have a solid death metal release. But the best DM album of the year? I don't think so. (Septicflesh, Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth, etc.)

    On a related note what's your opinion on Machine Head? They seem to stir up a lot of controversy, but after their last two albums I just can't hate them

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  4. A strong contender for the best album of 2011? Don't make me laugh. Go listen to the new Hades Archer, Mitochondrion, Necros Christos, Autopsy, Hell, Beherit, Lantern, and well, a lot of things basically. As amusing of a blog this is, Brenocide does have a pretty lame taste in metal.

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  5. LOL, says the guy who thinks it's still cool to namedrop Beherit.

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  6. Yeah, you're clearly false. Get out and go listen to some real metal.

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  7. But then I wouldn't be able to write for the blog you're on.

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  8. I say Obscura's Omnivium is the best album of 2011.

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  9. I really enjoy TBDM, and have done so for quite some time. They were one of those few bands on the free promo cd's I got when I was a young goodfornothing, and together with the likes of Arsis and Criminal they cleared the path towards real music.

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  10. I'm sold. Have never leapt in with TBDM - sounds like Ritual may be the place to start. Thanks for the review.

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  11. kingcarcas13496/20/2011 5:45 AM

    Didn't like Deflorate, hope they bounce back, still don't know if i'll go to summer slaughter....also the old stuff was iffy but i will still dig "this aint no fucking love song" no matter what.

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  12. If the singer gets rid of those higher vocals, I could really enjoy this band, but not now at least. Still, this album is definitely an improvement to their old stuff.

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  13. Actually, the mix between high and low vocals makes this band sound a lot like Hypocrisy, who I'm a fan of. Also, because I'm lazy and don't want to do any research or anything myself, are there any other albums by these guys that are worthwhile or is this the only good one they've made?

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  14. @Cyanide Listen to Nocturnal, that's a fucking amazing album!! Deflorate is also good, but not as good as Nocturnal or Ritual. Their other two albums don't do it for me whatsoever

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  15. Raul: Oh great you listen to Necros Christos. I wish you could see me jerking off the air right now. You seem so intent with every post I write on pounding your chest to show off your metal superiority over me, but this silverback is far from impressed. If the roles were reversed, and you were the one putting everything and anything in your musical taste out there for everyone to see practically every other day, I'm sure more than enough bands would slip through the cracks that I would consider laughable. It's easy to come onto my page and do what you do. Any fool can go through my blog, sift through my posts and try and hand-select bands that are more "trv" than the ones I just mentioned and proceed to namedrop them. Black metal that sounds like it was recorded in a tool shed is always a safe bet with you, it seems. Look buddy, if you're so gung-ho on proving to everyone that you're more metal than me, go make your own page, go spew your own bullshit and see if anybody cares. I guarantee I'll be there the second you mention Dark Tranquility to make some top-notch poop jokes.

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  16. Cyanide: I liked Nocturnal a lot, give that a shot.

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  17. Oh, and Raul got FUCKING OWNED. Problem?

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  18. IMO Ritual is the best thing they've ever done. Will be very hard to top if its even possible.

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  19. I've said it before and I'll said it again
    Raul's status:
    Told[]
    Not told[]
    Knight of the told republic[x]

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  20. Does raul realise how gay he is?

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  21. Raul's Step-Father6/20/2011 12:23 PM

    GUYS! Be quiet please, its Raul's bed time. His mother is tucking him in right now and I'd appreciate it if you could keep it down. So no more of your blasty-gasty music for a while please.

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  22. Brenocide: You like Obscura, you praise Europe as being full of metal purists, think Amon Amarth is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and say that anything non-metal is bad. Don't get me, this site is pretty lulzy most of the time, but you talk as if you've only gotten into within the past year or two. Also, black metal that sounds like it was recorded in a tool shed? I hope you're not referring to Necros Christos there dude because that would only further show your ignorance. All I'm saying is that you need to listen to some more metal before you start saying generic bands like The Black Dahlia Murder have possibly released one of the bast albums of the year. You can say that it's one of your favorites, sure, I wouldn't have a problem with that per se (though I would still think you have a pretty lame taste in metal) but to say that it's one THE BEST albums? That's when you start to be wrong.

    PS. Dark Tranquillity is pretty decent as far as melodeath goes.

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  23. Raul just told you back. U mad Brenocide? Problem metalheads? U jelly ToxicWaltz?

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  24. Oh my god, you're fucking right, The Black Dahlia Murder is metal. And pretty awesome at that.

    Btw, Dark Tranquillity is kinda good...

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  25. I wasn't necessarily referring to Necro Christos with the recorded in a toolshed statement, but if you could prepare me a written list of your music collection, I'd be happy to go down it and put some check marks along the way. So I don't see why you can't wrap your head around the concept that Obscura, Amon Amarth and TBDM are just some NEWER bands that I'm into. Since it's 2011, and these bands are much more relevant and active than say, 80's era Saxon, I tend to mention them more. I truthfully spend most of my time listening to classic power metal and NWOBHM, because it's my favorite sort of metal music, but since Piece of Mind didn't come out this week, I didn't fucking review that album. Is that okay with you?

    Ritual has been critically acclaimed by metal journalists across the board, friend. You're either not listening to it, or you just don't know anything. If you take any issue musically with Amon Amarth or Obscura, than I'll safely assume the latter and be on my way. I've said my peace with you, and I'm getting tired of being tired of you. I'm glad you think the site is funny, that's cool. But I'm not getting anything across to you and you're certainly not coming close to getting anything through my head. This site wouldn't be here if my heavy metal opinion wasn't impenetrable. Stop trying and go throw a Frisbee or something.

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  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. Cyanide: Stop instigating needless arguments. I have better things to do.

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  28. Shit Brenocide, i thought you had better judgement about these trendy clowns. This is a betrayal to your fellow metal bretherin and a direct backstabbing to your true blog reading disciples.

    This newfound false deathcore posuer taste of yours obliterates your position from the viking metal throne forever, leave the hall Brenocide. You've shown your true colors.


    "strong contender for the best album of 2011."

    Woah, stop tickling my balls there buddy, you might make my asshole explode from a repulsive mixture of rage and confusion. My personal metal blogging teacher has now shown he's not as omnipotent and almighty as i once thought he was. Weak.


    I recommend you go on a strict audio diet of Manowar and Helloween for several months to clean out the venom that has infected your metal warrior blood, this is urgent. You cannot fall into the hands of the false, be strong.

    Or if you can't take my advice, you're free to smash your genitals with Thor's own hammer, the only thing less painful then to listen to a split second of a Black Dahlia Murder "song".

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  29. This is a good album but I just don't like the members - They're just cocks. Plus there are many different Brutal death metal bands with new releases that crush this bands album at what they are trying to achieve. It is a bit like Dream Theater - I don't like them, they're a great band - I just don't like them, but I always seem to be told how I should get into them and how they are the greatest band on the planet bro!
    The bottom line is TBDM are a good band, just shut the fuck up about them to me.

    Also Xandemic is a false cock.

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  30. @Doom. If you didn't want to be told about TBM why did you read a review of their new album? You must be retarded. It's not like Brenocide was shouting in your ear, it's text, you can choose not to read it.

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  31. You know, for once I'd like to see someone bash a band/album without calling it "generic".

    It just seems like slang for "I'm listening to music with my vagine instead of my ears and talking about it out of my ass instead of my lips." these days.

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  32. Brenocide: It's perfectly fine to talk about newer bands. Hell, I LOVE a bunch of newer bands that have come out recently, such as Disma, Grave Miasma, Nocturnal Blood, and a bunch of other shiz. Personally I find Obscura and most tech death to be god awful because I see it as guitar wank with no purpose other than to show off. I don't find anything wrong with Amon Amarth, they're pretty decent at what they do. It's just that everyone already knows about them and so there pretty much is no reason to talk about them unless you're trying to show them to someone who's just getting into metal. If you really want to see what I listen to, then feel free to look at my last fm. http://www.last.fm/user/Taxer666 Recent charts are more accurate when it comes to my tastes now, but whatever.

    Also, I really don't care about the opinions of "metal journalists" because they also tend to praise shit that sucks. I only care about the opinions of those who have similar tastes that I do and my own when it comes to music. If you're going to try to come across as true as Manowar, you better at least listen to more metal.

    On a somewhat related note, if you like old trad, I highly suggest you listen to Enforcer - Katana, Slough Feg - Animal Spirits, and Züül - Out of Time. They came out last year I think and they are phenomenal trad releases. Even you might enjoy them.

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  33. See, now I can party with you because you like Slough Feg and Züül.

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  34. Aww, what a sweet ending this little battle has produced. U mad Exhorder?

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  35. Exhorder, nobody can lift Mjolnir except Thor and the Hulk.

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  36. Love this album, especially the last track, Malenchantments Of The Necrosphere, and The Grave Robber's Work. Den Of The Picquerist is pretty interesting, and comes out of fucking nowhere, but is a great song regardless. The album cover should be in black and purple, which are colors I find fit TBDM more, but oh well, can't have everything.

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  37. Raul: Stop being an ignorant bastard. The Black Dahlia Murder isn't the least bit "generic". Generic describes bands like BFMV and A7X. The Black Dahlia Murder's songs are full of all sorts of badassery.

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  38. Dude, you should review the new Rhapsody of Fire album called 'From Choas to Eternity'.
    It's pretty metal.

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  39. Disregard what Finn said and review the new Symphony X album instead please. Also Cyanide, that shit stopped being funny a long time ago

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  40. Don't cry, ToxicWaltz, it'll be ok. We can put a bandage on your sore ass and we'll get mommy to kiss it better. U sad bro?

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  41. "UMAD BREH???11?? UMAD AT MY MEME SPUTING SKILLZ BROSEIDON??????? YE UMAD BRO!!!!11!!! U MAD/JELLY/MIRIN/MERLIN!!!11!! COME AT ME BRAH!!!!"
    lrn2troll/10

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  42. The Black Dahlia Murder are an example of a terrible popular band becomming good. It can happen. Like IWABO and BMTH.

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  43. Try not to get so worked up Toxic. C'mon man, you're just gonna make your anal stitches come out. At this rate that sore ass will never heal. Next time, when Pedro suggests using lube, listen to him. Problem?

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  44. "UMAD BREH???11?? UMAD AT MY MEME SPUTING SKILLZ BROSEIDON??????? YE UMAD BRO!!!!11!!! U MAD/JELLY/MIRIN/MERLIN!!!11!! COME AT ME BRAH!!!!"
    lrn2troll/10

    OMG
    I broke my funny bone, that was hilarious.

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  45. Sarcasticfag is sarcastic ^

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  46. Awesome review, dude. I've been a huge fan of TBDM ever since I bought 'Miasma' purely because it was on sale.. never heard them before then.

    I challenge anyone to listen to the opening riff of 'Malenchanments of the Necrosphere' and then say this doesn't kick ass.

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  47. Cyanide, I wasn't sarcastic. Just because I did not laugh at something you posted doesn't make me sarcastic. Stop being a douche.

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  48. Lol, 80% of the comments on this review is just fighting. Like that Finn retard.

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  49. Oh yeah and myself lols

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  50. Now how excactly am I a retard? You mind telling me? I'm curious.

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  51. RecreantRichard: Last time I listened to them they sounded like another band aping Slaughter of the Soul. Granted this was years ago, so maybe their sound has changed. However, given the fact that one of the Arsis guitarists joined The Black Dahlia Murder, I probably still will not like it because I dislike Arsis immensely.

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  52. Once again you disappoint me Brenocide. You're right on one thing: this band does sound like melo-death. The shitty, gothenburg variety that people have been ripping off non-stop. I suppose that's what the guitarist from Arisis brought with him. for the past few years. I have to agree with Raul and Exhorder on this one.

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  53. *The shitty, gothenburg variety that people have been ripping off non-stop for the past few years. I suppose that's what the guitarist from Arisis brought with him.

    Dunno how that error happened

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  54. @Gids probably because you're an idiot.

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  55. Yes, that is the only reason errors ever happen. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

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  56. I think people are just not giving this album credit because it is TBDM, and it isn't cool to like TBDM like you mentioned. I liked Nocturnal and on...they started finding their voice then and have been improving with each album.

    To even call this a deathcore album is just silly. This is a death metal album, and a very fine one at that. The songwriting is them at their strongest, Ryan Knight has finally found his voice within the band and his solos are awesome, and the band just sounds at the top of their game.

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  57. Great review, I've listened to this album alot!

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  58. Metal Mystic WIlliam3/04/2012 8:10 PM

    i saw TBDM open for children of bodom in atlanta back 2008 hadnt heard much of them at that time but boy did they put on a killer show made me jump in my first pit which i still got a battle scar from hahaha!!! been hooked on this band ever since. they do get better with every album like cannibal corpse have done with their albums but no you cant compare the two at all. do need to go get that album though thanks for reminding me lol

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  59. Nocturnal and Deflorate are easily their best albums. Ritual is a bit over-polished and over-produced for me. I'm surprised you enjoyed this as much as you did, as you hold status of unequaled elitism.

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All readers that post under the name "Anonymous" and are too frail and weak to represent themselves properly with a title, shall be deemed false metal poseurs for the remainder of their pitiful existence.