Lord Belial - _Nocturnal Beast_
(Regain Records, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (
At first listen, it certainly seems as though the contract that Lord Belial entered into with their namesake is finally starting to pay dividends. After nearly a decade spent trying to emulate the likes of Dissection, _Nocturnal Beast_ is as much a surprise release as it is a crucial lifeline for the band. Gone is the relentless and, more often than not, pointless blasting. Tossed out the window alongside that are the quasi-classical flourishes that really hit their overwrought pinnacle on Lord Belial's last album, _The Seal of Belial_. Instead, "Insufferable Rituals" and "Fleshbound" slow things down to a brooding simmer, showing off a dark, foreboding side of the band that prior to this effort was very rarely let out for air. The results are stunning; this is clearly the style that Lord Belial are more comfortable with and, most importantly, are highly adept at playing. While the doom-tinged black metal that's on show here is definitely against type for the band, at no point does it feel as though the Swedes have entirely cast aside their identity; rather, _Nocturnal Beast_ is rebirth of sorts for the band and definitely a direction which one would hope is not just a one-off bout of casual experimentation.
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