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Lord Belial: The Seal of Belial

The Seal of Belial is the fifth album from Swedish black metal band Lord Belial. Being produced and mixed by Andy La Rocque, it has a much fuller and powerful sound than their earlier releases and contains lots of melodic guitar playing and vocals that shift between tortured black shrieks and low death metal growls. I've always been a big fan of midpaced black metal littered with churning guitar riffs that achieve melancholy a la old Ulver and Agalloch. As a matter of fact, I had to think of Ulver when listening to the acoustic passage on the title track minus the folk elements. This song has a great melodic phrasing to it and the band also explores subtle variations of time signatures towards the end. Agalloch comparisons could be made about "Chariot of Fire", another midtempo cut with doubled vocals, gripping melodies, and lachrymose chanting-like lamentations.

Lord Belial's cold, dreary acoustic passages are laced with occasional clean spoken parts, while the faster and double drum bass-driven sections feature intensely powerful and raw experiments of the genre's earlier outputs. "Abysmal Hate" and "Legio Inferi" are speedy and grim works of modern black metal with occasional female vocals by Marielle Andersson and they alternate between moody, calm passages to crunchy (in a Dissection kind of way) guitar-driven crescendo riffs with almost sing-along vocal harmonies. There is an underlying yearning for Middle Eastern resonance on "Abysmal Hate" that could bring Nile to mind for a moment with sickening deep growls by frontman Thomas Backelin, but before the similarities are fully acknowledged, the song ventures into a symphonic black metal outro featuring impressive orchestration and sound effects. The last two songs also sport a guest appearance by Andy LaRocque who lays down killer lead guitar work. LaRocgue's triggered and compressed drum sound on "Armageddon Revelation" really pushes the song and allows Daniel Moilanen to enhance the creepy and evil atmosphere of the song. However, it is "Scythe of Death", the album finale, that might really impact the older Belial fans. This is the re-recorded version of the track which they previously released as an MCD, but with better production and musicianship. LaRocque's guitar work on it is awesome, producing thick riffs with plenty of hammer-ons and dark melodies pulled out from the pits of hell. The distant female vocals intensify the song further closing the album on a melancholic and forlorn note.

Recommended to fans of melodic and atmospheric black metal that carefully avoids non-stop double drum bass cliches and throat-ripping screams. Pick this up if you're into the earlier works of Ulver, some Agalloch, In the Woods, and the first Katatonia album.

Track Listing

  1. Prolusio: Acies Sigillum
  2. Sons of Belial
  3. Chariot of Fire
  4. Abysmal Hate
  5. Legio Inferi
  6. Mark of the Beast
  7. Armageddon Revelation
  8. Scythe of Death

Added: November 26th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Lord Belial website
Hits: 2085
Language: english

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