CD Review: Baal Beryth – Blasphemy and Murder

The new Baal Beryth comes to us in a professional packaging, with the accordant grim stylings and black metal aesthetics. The music contained therein is consistent with the packaging, but that’s certainly not to say it isn’t an impressive and crushing release. While their style isn’t the type to bludgeon you over the head with big, slow, chugging doom riffs, Baal Beryth winds through a not-overwhelming or dizzying landscape of time and tempo changes with a wall of fuzzy, high-gain-everything that really doesn’t let up. This can be either a strength or to the detriment of the group, depending on the listener’s stamina for grinding black metal (all genre nit-picking aside, I’m throwing it in that bucket for now.)

Blasphemy and Murder really kicks off strongly with the opener ‘Blades of Boros Hratu’ (I’m not an expert in these letterings, that may be very wrong) and while the production style makes you really focus in order to pick out what’s going on, once you’re locked in and hearing the individual parts you can start to pick out some really cool ideas and energy. They say this kind of music is mixed ‘everything louder than everything else’ or call it ‘wall of noise’ but if it starts with a wall, there are several walls and they are built rather well. Once the vocals come in, things really pick up.

The sheer energy and power of the vocals really carries most of the songs, as the other instruments lack as much definition. The only time the vocals don’t work for me is when they are less heavily layered but still maintain the same message and style. In the more subdued moments (of which there aren’t many, more on that later) the lyrics still address the crusading, combative nature of the style, while the vocalist sounds more alone and less powerful due to it. There are some excellent examples of this approach, Aborted comes to mind, but it is hard to place and Baal Beryth’s vocal composition seems more ‘full steam ahead’ than ‘this is where I’m happy, this is where I’m sad.’

Intense music like this, with excellent playing from all members, really comes down to the concept and execution of the ideas. On first listen, I think they mostly nailed it. The movement loses some fluidity toward the third quarter of the album, but it sounds more like they tried to incorporate some mature elements and just weren’t sure where to tap the brakes and where to see if they could break concrete with sound. If you like this style of music, you probably already like Baal Beryth, but if you didn’t know that some of these local black metal bands are good, this release is a nice introduction, because they are.