In the first song, ‘Saviour’ there is the line “On your knees and swallow the sword….” Hmm. It’s not a great start, though it does sound very seventies which in a way at least is what was intended. Now Angel Of Damnation can get away with this pseudo Xtianity gone evil thing (and if you haven’t already, check out their great Carnal Philosophies album), but with vocals that come across as Charles Manson meets Dick Dastardly this kind of bothers me. I mean this is an album term years in the making and has the name Bedemon attached to it. On the plus side the vocals are distinctive and there is a real crunch to their shillings.
Weirdly that first song is just a false start. Or my over reaction to the lyrics subsides. The rest gets a whole lot better as though that first bit was some odd contractual obligation. Honest, if you like your true doom then step this way. And if you don’t then step this way too ‘cos you might be surprised.
‘Lord Of Desolation’ is much more downbeat and the voice of Craig Junghandel really takes off; he has a really expressive tone, a fine range and it fits into this biting doom beautifully. For those who don’t know, Bedemon were originally formed in the seventies US by journalist sand guitarist Randy Palmer, who sadly passed away in 2002 following a road accident. They included in their original ranks bassist Mike Matthews but also Bobby Liebling and Geof O’Keefe, who of course went on to found Pentagram and that is a reasonable if vague area to take as a base. Previously only resurrected demos had been available, but before his death Randy Palmer had laid down the basic rhythm tracks for this. Ten years later O’Keefe, Matthews and Junghandel manage to get it finished. With that kind of birthing you might expect a bit of a patched together Frankenstein monster. Thankfully it’s just a monster.
The sound is thick with seventies riff work, the drugged out, black tar residues of the sixties left by the hippies turned junkies smothering the atmosphere but with such a crunching, biting fresh guitar it kind of slides into the timeless. This is terrific: Tracks like Godless coming on with vocals so much like old Charlie Manson cackling his own insanities as the up tempo doom and hard lead breaks drive relentlessly on. This is the heads down sound of men on a mission to plough through the darkness regardless of the road blocks.
Listen to the riff descending and cracking on ‘Son Of Darkness’ and the superb, relentless thud and snap of drum and bass not to mention the rising, twisting, turning vocals. Listen to the urgent stomp on D.E.D shuddering through the shakes of withdrawal, or the locked in psychosis of ‘Kill You Now’. Every song a black, shining gem. Hell, even the opener starts to have its charms.
By the time we get to ‘Eternally Unhuman’ and its gnarled slow grinding nastiness I am utterly in awe of the ten years of determination that it had taken to get this music to me. The fact that this is so coherent as an album after all that time is a compliment to the surviving members and a great testament to the song writing skills of Randy Palmer.
Honestly if you like the dark, twisted horror doom of bands like Funeral Circle or Angel Of Damnation, if you like the grind and drag of seventies rooted riffs with a real modern crunch and bite, if you like classic rock vocals sung by a madman, if you just goddamn like metal then give this one a serious listen.
Buy, buy, bloody buy.