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Chunky - 89%

OzzyApu, May 9th, 2009

I decided to listen to this album on my iPod as I swept the house, knowing that while I do like the album, I never really dove into it. Nocturnal Beast was amazingly evil, but this is where Lord Belial spent all the melody, malevolence, and talent in their career. The bass isn’t as fat as it would be on the next album, but it sure packs a punch and all while the leadwork is reminiscent of Iron Maiden – an unorthodox but brilliant combination when executed properly. Therefore, the overall tone (while still sinister) is more accessible to weak ears or to those who want to step into black metal territory. The production isn’t raw; in fact, it’s the complete opposite: thick, chunky, powerful, booming, and rich like Swedish milk chocolate.

Before really paying attention, all the songs sounded the same because of the same guitar rupture. Thus everything blended together smoothly and without repetitive formula. However, throughout my sweeping process from the bedrooms, to the kitchen, and down to the TV room, I could hear the distinct tempo changes riff melodies in the twin lead of the bass / guitar. One pulled off a wall of sound while the bass and guitar nailed the rhythm down like hot cakes.

Drumming was substantially limited to blast beats and the like pace keeping, but it’s organic sound kept it right where I wanted it. Another interesting aspect I notice was the high blend of solos – they mixed in perfectly and easily without any break or interruption. Most of the solos are slow, but they carry teaspoons of NWOBHM. The riffs themselves have a medieval / classical-inspired touch that tastes like rainbow sherbet ice cream with those solos. Give this plus the use of haunting (but limited) keys and acoustics, and we have black metal simply done right. Backelin sounds like a demon pissed off as hell – no gutturals or a lot of growling; just screams that aren’t in any way annoying or childish. His performance suits the music perfectly, but he isn’t the reason why this album is so mesmerizing.

Now this album has been called doomy; while I wouldn’t exactly call it that, it gets off that way for its thick, mid-paced songs. It sounds like your on your being escorted to Hell, with genocide being committed to your right and McDonald’s on your left. The NWOBHM worship, significantly present in songs like “Scythe Of Death,” “Abysmal Hate,” and “Mark Of The Beast” prevent this album from bordering snoozeville, which some people seem to think. The more elegant tracks like “Legio Inferi” and “Sons Of Belial” in return give this album more class and a style of its own.

Angelgrinder served as the build-up while Nocturnal Beast represented the aftermath of this album. Lord Belial pulled all their shots on this one and created something magnificently chilling without giving up their roots. It serves as a great gateway album for new fans and also as pretty much their best work in my eyes.