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First of all, I'm not too familiar with Grand Belial's Key. This EP seems to be their first demo as a real band, after the two demos with the guy from Ancient on drums. The music played here is fast aggressive black metal with strong old school death/thrash metal influences. Neither synths nor melodic vocals, except on intros and outros. There are only 3 actual songs.
Concerning the production, it's kind of muffled, like if it was recorded on a 4-track recorder with only one mic for the drums. It reminds me of early Entombed demos.
The bass is as loud as the guitar, with a lot of low end. I think it should have been quieter in the mix, though it's very well executed - it's kind of melodic sometimes, like in early Mortuary Drape.
A Witness to the Regicide begins with a synth intro which has nothing to do with the actual first song, "Mourners Flock to Gethsemane" (later re-recorded on the great Weltenfeind split). The same synth tone is used on the last track, which is an instrumental, closed by female vocals sung in elvish style.
On the upside, this demo contains very inventive and dynamic drum parts, which induce headbanging. Grand Belial's Key already displayed on A Witness to the Regicide their great musicianship, both in terms of composition and vocals.
On the downside, I found the synth parts to be useless, the song length to be excessive (for example, the second break in "Goat of a Thousand Young" should have been cut) and the production to be cavernous.
As a whole, this EP is worth listening and representative of the band's promising beginning. It clearly shows their early potential.
The version I am reviewing is the CD-R put out by the band. While there are six songs listed on the album, the CD is divided into just four tracks.
The first thing I noticed was the poor production on this album in comparison to later releases by the band. The music is still good; great song structure, interesting breaks, and decent guitar and drum work.
"Goat of a Thousand Young" is my favorite of the songs on the album. It is track number three on the CD, but actually the fifth song. It actually sounds like heavy/thrash in some parts, but still with the gruff vocals.
There is an interesting closer on the album - a instrumental of sorts with distorted vocals, bells (Santa Claus anyone?), which flows into some great female vocals singing something in Latin(?).
It is plain to see GBK even had much talent back in the day. Though this release just hints at how great they have become, it should be heard by any USBM enthusiast as they were one of the originators of the genre stateside.