Last year saw Beastmaker release Lusus Naturae on Rise Above – an album full of blue smoke and Black Sabbath riffs. A year on and the Fresno freaks are at it again.  Flares, patchouli oil and lava lamps at the ready it is time to dive in.

Opener “Evil One” is psyche doom at its finest. Crushed velvet riffs and Ozzy vocals abound and it is the seventies once again. “Heaven to Hell” veers towards Rise Above boss Lee Dorian’s Alma Mater with its use of robotic phrasing and loose flowing riffs. Trevor Church can hold a tune both on guitar and vocally and when he is joined by Johanna Sadonis from Lucifer on “Now Howls The Beast” the lighter tone lifts the track to a higher plane.

“Of God’s Creation” is packed with Hammer clips and Church seems to be pushing his cod English accent to the extreme like a stoner Dick Van Dyke. However the bass of John Tuck bowls over any doubt I have and the drums of Andy Saldate grind it into dust.  This is not ground-breaking but it is earth shaking in its bombast. You can see why Mr Wylde is taking these chaps out with Zakk Sabbath.

“Give Me a Sign” has a sneer and swagger that brings to mind Uncle Acid but does not have the cojones to carry it off. “Nature of the Damned” is quite the different beast. Heavy, earthy grooves much more Louisiana than California abound building to a metallic crescendo that reminds me of Killers era Maiden.  “Psychic Visions” is all about psychedelic groove and will get many a hirsute lad or lass swinging their locks .

Dr Phibes introduces “Inside the Skull” – if only Vincent Price had lived long enough to embrace Doom in the way Christopher Lee did Power Metal there could have been some awesome collaborations. This is pure Sabbath worship from start to finish.

“Night Bird” tells a Hitchcockian tale of a woman who gets off on poisoning her lovers to a deliciously fuzzed up riff.  This track sounds filthy, dripping with acrid potions and blood drenched B movie sensibilities.  There is more of a garage feel here owing more to West Coast proto metal than the Midlands.

By the time closer and Danzig style sing a long “Sick Sick Demon” hits, I realise that I have been sucked in by Beastmaker again. What appears on the surface – just as it did to me a year ago – a Sabbath clone reveals itself to be a collection of groove laden garage doom belters , which, whilst worshipping at the altar of Iommi et al retain enough identity to avoid a tribute tag.

It got inside my skull

(7/10 Matt Mason)