This new album is one that has been heralded for a couple of years now, with the band’s massive and massively charismatic front man Simon Hall announcing its imminent release for many months and many shows, the last tour being heralded the Black Flag tour, no doubt after the opening, and oft supposed, title track of the album. So, has this hype meant that after a massive build up the world of metal is mistreated to a St. Anger style damp squib? Has it fuck!
I’ve been lucky to hear in the last eighteen months or so some live working versions of the songs that blast out of this album, and with time they have both matured and grown stronger. Opener ‘Black Flag’, so long thought to be the title track to the album fades up with a combination of Maidenesque demonic voice over melded to the modern screams and sirens of urban chaos before aforementioned Mr Hall blasts out his imposing clean vocals backed up with an uber tight combination of guitar riffs and blasting drums and bass. Hell, this single six and a half minute track deserves a review all of its own, let alone trying to cram in the other 11 expertly crafted screams of anger that composes this release. So much of what this whole album represents is encapsulated is in this one song: swirling guitar breaks guaranteed to drag any mosher into the pit; intelligent and bitter vocals; all melded together into an ethos of perfectly delivered metal anger.
‘Profit of the Lie’ merges seamlessly into this litany of anger, but with even more complex riffs and incorporated sound bites from assorted talking heads comes across even more angry and venom streaked, without having to resort to incomprehensible primal screams of rage. I may be putting myself up as a pseudo intellectual target of ridicule, but hearing this song, with its embittered screams against corrupt media the day after the Leveson enquiry was published made it even stronger.
Righteous and reasoned anger blast out of Hall’s vocals in track after track, an anger that is given credibility through examination and experience, rather then the aimless rebellion of so many younger bands whose idea of angst is having to study for their GCSEs. Please don’t let any reader think I am trying to divorce the ire of Beholder from any generation, I’m just trying to point out how much more valid their bitterness is from the whining of some bands who just piss and whinge without rhyme or reason. ‘Splinter’ rails against the vacuous identikit celebrities of modern transient culture.
This is not an album that can be pigeon holed. ‘Killing Machine’ is a combination of thrash riffs melded with “core” group vocals that refuses to be stuck in one sub genre; ‘Morphine Serenity has a positively gothic dark opening, before merging seamlessly into pit inducing riffs, while ‘Liar’ is a pure metal rally against the talking heads that saturate modern sound-bite media.
This is an album with not a single ‘filler track’, each sounding like it was crafted by metal musicians with heart rather then a bean counting ad man, all the while transcending sub-genres. You like thrash? Well, there are fast and furious guitars. You like NOWBH? Well, the vocals can be clean and strong. You fancy yourself an intellectual commentator on society? Well, this is an album full social comment. You just like good metal and want to bang your head and pit? Well, you are with me then! This is an album that delivers the goods, and I can’t wait to just get in the pit with this as the live sound track. Buy it.
(9/10 Spenny Bullen)