Law of the Burning

Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Bestialord is a killer new project from band members that served time in kick ass outfits Manilla Road and Sanctus Infernum.  Guitarist/vocalist Mark Anderson played on one of my favorite latter days MR records Spiral Castle.  Bringing along his SI bandmate Chris Johnson on drums with bassist Rob Harris completing the rhythm section, Bestialord’s debut Law of the Burning offers up some doom-laden, rubbed raw metal across its 9 tracks that hearken back to a run roughshod, gritty sound that’s prime days stretched from the mid-80s through the early 90s.

Opener “The Doom that Came” creeps into existence on the haunches of a self-realized, sort of horror movie sample before slithering into a mid-tempo, dirt-caked thrash riff backed by urgent, audible walking bass lines and bone dry snare pops that give way to careening runs of double-bass drumming.  I could have seen myself picking this up alongside my first purchases of To Mega Therion and Mortal Throne of Nazarene.  Anderson’s jagged, blackened screams act as the fourth instrument in all of their crustily authentic glory.  His riffing is even better with lots of gloomy, craggy dips that rise up into technically delicious shredwork that makes a noticeable impact without overstaying its welcome.  Several changes to the cutthroat main riff fluctuates the tempo enough to keep things plenty interesting.  The begotten downtempo hate riff, psychotic pedal board psychedelia, desolate percussion and churning bass groove that splay “Vermin” wide had me from the first note.  Soon a crippled, shot off at the knee thrash attack vaults to the forefront with heart attack vocals and molten, maddening tempos to match.  Filthy lyrics are instantly memorable thanks to their deliberate delivery.  Johnson’s pounding, double-bass lava crawl boils the track with hot rage to spare and the tune’s ratty thickness is rendered an unusual clarity to each instrument thanks to the weirdly stripped-down, airtight production.  There’s no lack of rawness but every element stands strong on its own two feet, especially the sweeping 2nd half solo.

“All Fall Down” pipes in the sound of a tortured, harried mob while neoclassical, acoustic guitar enriches the suffering in a foreground shaded with beauty.  It’s not long until the riffing and rhythms go straight for the jugular; this time by double-tracking the guitars into a sludgy, mutant harmony while an aggressive drum/bass shakedown takes no prisoners.  Doom-y lurches uncoil into ugly thrash lurches and utterly ruthless death metal chugs beaten to shit by corrosive double kick drumming, demonic Floridian grooves and white-hot soloing.  It’s certainly clear to me why the band lists metal diversity ranging from Morbid Angel to Mercyful Fate as their influences.  The whole scope is present on this track.  A militant thrashing snare march and radiation-fried guitar/bass debauchery courses through the title track’s veins but it’s the double-dipped acidic death/doom sleaze that follows which really warps the song to the next level.  Shades of Autopsy and Abscess ooze from the decaying walls; the track rising from these cellar dwelling lows to an increasingly intense death metal workout peppered by double-bass and blasts (despite the rhythm section’s ascent into overdrive, the riffs stay the same slothful speed until the next thrashing segment).  Johnson steps out front with a lead so delightfully evil it absolutely seals the deal for me.

Trudging through a swamp of mud, whiskey vomit and airplane glue “Marduk Kurios” emerges from an intro of howling winds with a dingy, doom-diseased riff that lopes and crests atop of a mountain high bass line.  A galloping yet slovenly thrash break soon drops off a cliff only to be impaled upon a diamond sharp, doomed-out Slayer style riff.  An ugly, desolate vibe reeks from the song’s every orifice but the lively pacing gives way to some runaway rhythm riff grooves with another one of Mark’s madder than a nuthouse solos.  His viper-bite vocals trade variety for a vicious, lacerating scream that’s a perfectly effective cornerstone for the music and his delivery is decipherable enough to rabidly shout along to.  “I am Pain” issues a similar statement of doom, death, thrash and classic metal but twists the riffing and song-structure just enough from its predecessor to make a severe blunt trauma impact.

A soul destroying doom riff propelled by Harris’ crystalline bass grooves permeates “Loathed be Thy Name’s” gale force lead-in.  Again, the sheer force, scaly riffs, back-breaking percussive weight, scathing vocals and deliberate tempos slowly ratchet up into fleet-footed death/thrash runs that constantly alternate the instrumentation and pacing for an invigorating rape of the senses.  At 2:17 one of the few directly Black Sabbath/early Cathedral inspired grooves finds solace in a shoving, bluesy swing while a wah-drenched solo sends this brief respite of tangible madness spiraling into a screaming, yawning cataclysm.  This section climaxes in a cacophony of harmonized guitar sickness that hurtles its way back to the song’s main thematic focus.  It should be noted that the bass is audible note for note throughout (in every track, thankfully), yielding added depth and weight to the track’s formidable disgust for humanity.  “Above the Valued Sky” seems to be an ode to metal’s first lady; Elizabeth Bathory.  The doom n’ gloom lifts just enough for heightened tempos relishing brutish, mid-paced death/thrash filth complete with solos and hard-charging riffs to get you air shredding in no time.  In fact, every player on this record merits their own air performance.  Closer “What is the End” is a stumbling drunk riff sprawl that is the other cut that pipes in some very clear Sabbath/Cathedral/Candlemass doom influence; filtering its haggard, harrowing grooves through some Autopsy sewage.

Bestialord came like a bat out of hell and delivered nothing but the good stuff on Law of the Burning.  Every track is a twisted anthem summoning up influence from the dirtiest, most goddamned old school bands that helped shape our beloved metal genre.  There’s certainly a throwback quality to this record yet Bestialord are talented composers with superb chemistry between the band members.  You can just tell from the quality of this album that they had a helluva time making it and when that vibe emanates upon a listener’s playback of the recording, it makes for a wholly satisfying experience.  This is damn good stuff through and through, check it out!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
January 24th, 2018


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