As a contributor to Heavy Blog, I’ve found that the most satisfying thing to do is to follow a band from their beginning. You get to see how artists can evolve and learn from their mistakes or just figure out how to do things better. Songwriting can improve with time and experience. Technical abilities can be honed to match the artistic skills. Group unity can be increased through the trials and tribulations of making a band into a professional career. Last year when I started on Heavy Blog, my very first review was of Bestialord and their debut record, Law of the Burning. I am extremely excited that they have a follow up record so soon with Black Mass Wedding. Time to dive back into the occult horror!
Wichita’s own Bestialord brings back their dark occult doom for a second release. Those just tuning in might have missed their first record, but it was a wonderful blend of dark fantasy and evil sounding doom. They did an excellent job of making metal in the same vein as Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. However, the band was in the grassroots stage of their life and had only been together for less than a year when Law of the Burning was released. So the record sounded a little on the rough side. These rough edges were more on the minor snafu side of things, like lo-fi production by necessity and little timing flubs here and there. It didn’t amount to much other than minor distractions to what is ultimately a pretty fun record that engages your desires for the darker side of life.
Clearly the band learned a lot from the Law of the Burning experience. Black Mass Wedding is a significant leap for them. It keeps the parts that worked well, like the occult themes and presentation, while improving the parts that clearly needed it. Gone are the technical mistakes and studio mishaps. This is a band who learned from experience and improved upon what they do. If this record is nothing else, it’s at least a feather in the cap of artistic evolution.
However, this record is more than that. The band kept the good stuff they do well. These guys know how to write a really spooky metal song. Imagine a darker and heavier version of Blue Öyster Cult, and you wouldn’t be completely off the mark. They’re a little bit of that combined with King Diamond. It’s a really fun exploration of how deep that early underground metal sound could be. With modern underground metal, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when this kind of sound was extremely terrifying to some. However, it reminds us where we’ve come from and let us never forget.
The most intriguing thing about this band to me is that they can explore this metal zone and make it seem so extremely dark. The most apt comparison I can make is a comedian who doesn’t curse. There are a lot of bands out there who are a lot darker and do a lot of interesting things. However, the bands that do the most interesting things are the ones who can seem heavier than the blackest death metal record you can think of but don’t engage in that super dark and brutal sound. Much like a comedian who doesn’t curse can become the most entertaining man in show business, Bestialord does a whole lot with fairly little.
Bestialord isn’t the biggest band in the world, but there’s a solid sound to forge here. It’s a brilliant exploration in this proto-underground sound that explores the darkness in our fantasy realms. It’s kitschy in a way where it seems so on-the-nose that it’s perfectly genuine. It’s a great time to explore these places and see all manner of demons, elder gods, and witches. The fuzzy tones and dark riffs feed into that imagery. It’s a darkly fun environment to hang out in, and that makes this record a fun experience. Hail, pulp occult metal!
Black Mass Wedding is available now via Grimm Distribution and Satanath Records.