Horror and heavy metal seem to be forever intertwined. The music evolved from the genre. At this point in pop culture, one represents the other. So why not make that your sound? That seems to be the MO for Bestialord out of Wichita, KS.
The first striking thing about them is their subgenre. Bestialord describe themselves as “occult horror metal”. One listen to this record makes it hard to disagree. The trio has a clear Mercyful Fate influence. A closer listen reveals a few hints of doom and death though no clear analogs. The whole record’s feeling is similar to that spooky feeling when a nasty storm approaches.
It even goes down to the instrumentation. Mark Anderson’s guitar has that late 70s fuzzy crunch quality to it that really brings out the horror. His soloing mimics that era as well with the flashy rock guitar-style solos common in the first wave of black metal. Rob Harris’s bass helps to fill out the riffs to balance the guitar’s crunch, and Chris Johnson keeps a full beat. He can drive the beat but leaves enough space so that all the parts are heard relatively equally. The only difference between their sound and that of their heavy influence is Anderson’s vocals. Instead of King Diamond’s operatic singing style, Anderson opts for a snarling growl. It suits the songwriting well. Telling their dark tales of heavy metal really requires the snarl.
The stories their songs tell are what’s really great about this record. These songs are tales straight from dark fantasy. The first track, “The Doom That Came,” is a story of the destruction of a lakeside city destroyed by a monster. There are glimpses of Satanic rituals, rats in dungeons, and ancient demons. The closing track is a story about torture demons a la the Hellraiser series. It’s a real treat of the darker side of heavy metal.
One word about this record: it is pretty rough. Bestialord has only been a band since late 2016. They did not even have a full band until mid-2017 when Harris joined. This record was made only a few months after that. It’s impressive that they have been able to figure enough out in that short time to write the songs they have and enter the studio. Their youth as a group shows a bit in some of the recordings. There are a few times where the rhythm gets fumbled a bit. The low production values are readily apparent as well. Bands with more recording experience may be able to get around those issues, but Bestialord is not yet one of those bands.
That being said, this is a fun record. Their sound is not one that comes around enough. Fans of metal with a side of monsters, gore, and magic are going to be quite pleased with this. Maybe it’s a bit kitschy, maybe it’s a little rough around the edges. It should be noted that these guys have only been a band for a year. If this is what they produced for their first record, just consider what they can do with more experience.
The Law of Burning is now streaming on all major services and is available for purchase through Cimmerian Shade Recordings.