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A Logical, Even Superior, Continuation Of Vicious Breed - 91%

CHAIRTHROWER, May 22nd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Reaper Metal Productions

Its prior, solidly woven third full-length album notwithstanding, Pittsburgh's Lady Beast has dutifully acceded to next fulfilment of its committed second cannon, which, for all intents and highly melodic, riveting purposes, is a bit leaner and meaner than Lady Beast (Volume) One and LB Two - early, bar-setting devices from 2012 and 2015, respectively. In other, less meandering words, the twin-axe'd traditional quintet's most recent incarnation in The Vulture's Amulet - a forty minute, nine-track affair, released in early April under Cleveland-b(i)ased black thrash label Reaper Metal Productions - sounds like a more elaborate, if not denser, extension of 2017's Vicious Breed, yet with minute soupcons of Keystone juggernaut's initial exuberance, as well as fiery and epic, storytelling narration.

In any event, The Vulture's Amulet starts off in most straight-forward, no-nonsense fashion with the brief, three-minute opener, "Metal Machine", which sort of reminds me of Finland's up-and-frying Satan's Fall, with its scrappy, intensely shuffle-some thrash/high speed guitar riff and rolling, cumulative skins, not to mention galloping bass line and front woman Deborah Levine's evilly sharp, mid-to-upper range caws, alongside further exacerbations. The powerfully surging lead, for its part, harks back to classic early 1980's style fury a la Griffin or Warlock, for want of avian and/or sorcery related imagery.

The succeeding "Ruins of Rust", now, is verily cut from the same colourfully dizzying cloth as, say, "We Are The Witches" or "Caged Fury" from LBII, whilst the bass-heavy, lead-heavy, floor-heavy "The Gift" stands apart as a bona fide, memorably seizing She-Beast cut, as it features a welcome myriad of antiquity evoking guitar harmonies/riffs, as well as Levine's wonderfully narrated syncopation within the song itself; its sped-up, pyramidical bridge and ziggurat-ed progression, slow-burn solo section and wizened return to cathartically seizing return to (cluster)form make for a sure-fyre highlight humdinger worth its fair share of enthused spins - to the point of centrifugal ru(m)ination!

A tough and gritty - perhaps even Lady Beast's lean n' meanest, most down and dirty piece, to date - in the five-minute "Sacrifice to the Unseen" elevates the LP's overall currish flair, practically equivocating it with something by Kentucky's oh-so-salty Savage Master, if one can believe as much. Its infective tone and crunch, while unseen, is surely heard - especially, the kick-ass and downright brow-beating Pentagram styled riff serving as break and bridge, followed, no less, by thumping, all-out grooving bass line and maniacal thrash solo thrown in for good, albeit adequately dreadful, measure.

An equally rocking and festive, at times, vocally animated (though briefer), "Betrayer", and longer-winded, almost power metal-lish or Iron Maiden-esque "The Champion" keep things going, and, at this juncture, it's worth noting just how frenetically wound the axmen - as well as bassist - are, this time around. While Vicious Breed felt a mite more conservative, dare I sayeth, bare-bones in its sparsity and mild over-congruity, The Vulture's Amulet, to my ears, feels like what should have been christened "Lady Beast III" (to wit, the line-up remains precisely the same as before). As far as drums are concerned, even they, which seemed a little sterile back in '17, have upped the ante, or rather, brought their A+ game to the (fable) table.

Insofar as final third goes, another outlier in the revving "Transcend the Blade" instrumental, alongside token titular foray and closer "Vow of the Valkyrie" (not "yowl"), bring to fruition the crone-y cover art's virago's enchantment, and thus, with flourish. Although the vocal-free number is no killer, Cauldron-esque "Sky Graves" (from Vicious Breed), "The Vulture's Amulet" proper easily cements itself as genuine, ineluctable, hard-driving and pumpin' Lady Beast, in a comparatively gripping manner as, say, Lady Beast I's "Birthrate", or said secondary instalment's winsome-as-Hell "The Frost Giant's Daughter". In effect, its mythically spellbound, quintessentially mellifluous, blazing lead break is second (or third) to none, whilst said finale - or "vulture song" rampantly riffs its rapid, revolutionary, ring-pierced speed metal way yonder, unto cloud parted spheres...slowly brewing, withal, an eventual "Lady Beast V" - "cinco" to the true, devil horn flinging hispanophile.

To sum(mon) up, Lady Beast-of-Pittsburgh, PA, once again, proves why it's one of, if not the, most preferred female fronted trad metal acts, over here in these North Western, Pacific parts.