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Bedemon - Child Of Darkness

    Ian Jane

  • Bedemon - Child Of Darkness

    Bedemon - Child Of Darkness
    Released by: Relapse Records
    Released on: February 24h, 2015.
    Purchase From Amazon

    England gave us Black Sabbath and the United States? Well, that's where Pentagram came from but in addition to Pentagram, there was Bedemon. This band was made up of the late Randy Palmer of Pentagram fame on guitar, Mike Matthews on bass and lead guitars, Pentagram's Geof O'Keefe on drums and lead guitar and Pentagram's infamous front man Bobby Liebling on lead vocals. Yep, Bedemon were basically an 'offshoot' of Pentagram who recorded some of the stuff that Palmer had been writing on his own over a few sessions that took place throughout the seventies. This stuff languished in obscurity (the band didn't put out an official album or play live at the time) for three decades and was then finally put out officially in 2005 through Black Widow Records. That release went out of print and now Relapse Records have stepped up. The band would reunite, sort of, in the 2000's without Liebling but what's contained on this release are the band's earliest recordings all re-mastered as best they can be from what would seem to be some old musty tapes.

    The opening track, which also happens to be the title track (with an alternate spelling - Childe of Darkness), is wonderfully Sabbath inspired doom, with sludgy, wailing guitars, cowbell on the drum kit and just a fantastic wall of sound. The second track, Enslaver Of Humanity, sounds like it should be a super Sabbathy track, right? Well the fuzz and the heavy are there but this is more psychedelic rock than doom with the vocals ranting about the government over top of a pounding rhythm. It's still just as heavy as you'd want and expect it to be, everything on this damn album is, but it's a little trippier than some of the other songs.

    Frozen Fear again sounds like vintage Sabbath but then just before the half way mark, it slows down and gets… mellow. Not lyrically, the lyrics are still plenty dark, but the guitars chill out a bit only to then wash over us again in a wall of fuzz you can't seem to get out from under only to bombard us with a guitar solo best described as, for lack of a more cliché term, epic. One-Way Road is under three minutes, making it one of the shorter tracks on the album, but it continues the band's trend of simple, heavy riffs and spaced out vocals in a big way, but it's a bit lighter and more upbeat… albeit not by a whole lot. Serpent Venom, however… this track crushes you right from the opening strum of that down-tuned guitar. Drums pound, cymbals crash and bass levels go into the red and distort like crazy as Liebling's vocals take you along on a psychedelic journey straight into a fucked up, drug addled Twilight Zone. This might be the best track on the album.

    Last Call starts off with a really mellow little guitar solo but starts to build, fairly slowly, into something more. About a third of the way in things start to pick up and get heavier but this instrumental track is a bit more experimental and free form than anything else on the record - it stands out for that reason. Drive Me To The Grave gets right back to heavy, solid, crushing doom - a heavy start, a quiet bit for Liebling to lay some genuinely bizarre vocals over, and then the return of the heaviness. It repeats this formula for just under three and a half minutes and it's AWESOME.

    Into To Grave has a cleaner sound (this has more to do with whatever source was used - this was obviously recorded at a different time) and the vocals sound a little more polished while the lyrics continue the band's appreciation of darkness and eerie themes. It's a mid-tempo track that detours into pure psych territory towards the end. Skinned starts off with a piercing scream overtop of some distortion and then this you in the nuts with a super heavy riff, faster than most on this collection. This is the shortest, and dare I say it peppiest, track on the album but it fits in really nicely. Through The Gates Of Hell beings our voyage to the albums finale with a weird, almost primitive guitar sound that is then overrun by some of the more typical fuzzy sounds you'd expect. It's s a slower track, very, very rhythmic, but the drums here are killer.

    Things get faster again with Touch The Sky, but the audio quality drops again here - probably a different recording session again. Liebling's vocals are a touch more lively (they almost go at their own pace, different from the rest of the band) here but the rest of the band keep things very much grounded, six feet under style. Child Of Darkness II has a really abrasive guitar solo to start out with but that doesn't last long and then it's back, rightly so, to pounding, heavy doomy riffs. Liebling's vocals here are a bit more distinct and interesting while everyone else in the band just goes for it. Time Bomb is four and a half minutes of feedback and noise and riffs and weird lyrics, this time not about death and darkness but about a girl - 'You're a time bomb, baby!' Yeah! It's faster than most of the other tracks on the album and it almost feels like the band is experimenting with a more accessible sound on this track. It's catchy and it owes as much to The Stooges as it does to the mighty Black Sabbath.

    As things come to a close, we get the penultimate track, Nighttime Killers, which is fast and sludgy and weird. The timing on this track is unorthodox, it keeps you guessing as to where things are going to go and the drumming is pretty ornate, almost show offy at times, and that makes it even more awesome. The album finishes off with Axe To Grind, the longest song in the collection. It starts off with a lengthy instrumental stretch… and it stays that way. Some great soloing here over top of a strong backbeat for five and a half minutes and… scene.

    This is pretty amazing stuff, anyone with an interest in doom or stoner rock or really just metal in general should check it out. Yeah, it does sound a lot like Sabbath (they beat them to this by a bit) but the songwriting and playing is top notch even if the quality of the recordings is less than ideal. This stuff is raw, it's got a primal energy to it and it's actually quite a bit heavier than what Pentagram themselves were doing around the same time. There are no bad songs on this record, it's just a solid slab of proto-metal from start to finish and if you can get past the fact that the quality of the recording isn't so hot and just appreciate the passion, heaviness and enthusiasm of the music, then you should own this. Because it's fucking awesome.

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