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Lord Belial has changed a great deal since the much more abrasive “Unholy Crusade” and the overtly violent “Angelgrinder.” Now, the band has turned toward a doomy vibe that remains evil, yet the band has shed its extreme, death metal trappings in favor of more dismal, mid-paced atmospheres. The album has been available in Europe, but is being finally issued in the US by Candlelight Records, which is acquiring licensing for key European metal labels at a staggering rate.
This is, without a doubt, an album that American fans need to hear and at import prices these days, it’s much more likable to have domestic releases of extraordinary metal forays such as this.
There’s a lot more of a Bathory influence on the more melodic of “The Seal Of Belial” and it seems as if it’s a change for the better for this group[. Musically, things are more fluid and nothing sounds rushed. When Lord Belial take inspiration from the phase of the Bathory sound, as so many bands do, they also inject the more harmonious, latter-day Bathory sound into the vibe. But on “Mark Of The Beast,” an additional cryptic vocal element is fostered, leading to the kind of vibe that strikes the listener as original. “The Seal Of Belial” is a definite progression and even more so, an evolution for the band. This music is heavy, gritty and inspired by venomous visions, yet it walks along a different left hand path without imitation. Excellent production by Andy LaRoque captures the gruff beauty of this band’s scathing tone.
A particularly Hellish sounding eruption, "Abysmal Hate" causes massive sonic damage with a technique that fans of Dimmu Borgir will be drawn toward. An entirely different vibe rests in Chariot Of Fire, a slithering mid-tempo groover. Throughout the stylistic variations, Lord Belial keep things frostbitten and diabolical, staying true to the core of the black metal movement, but accentuating the presence with texture and an ominous yet memorable stance in ubiquity.
Lord Belial may be changing, but their underlying purpose has not. It’s quite safe to say that followers of this group will meet this offering with immense satisfaction. A brand new record, “Nocturnal Beast” is already on its way for European fans…