Lord Belial - The Black Curse
Regain Records
Melodic Black Metal
10 songs (52'28")
Release year: 2008
Lord Belial, Regain Records
Reviewed by Alex

Last time I contributed a review for Swedish black metallers Lord Belial, I did admit having a soft spot for this collective trying to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Norsecore crowd by infusing their songs with melodies and unusual details. The new offering The Black Curse continues to perpetuate this purpose. The judgment of whether the band has been able to climb from under the “2nd tier” label will always remain in the eye/ear of the beholder, but differentiate Lord Belial did, The Black Curse shifting even further into melodic territory than Revelation – The 7th Seal. Those longing for a significantly harsher edge may be disappointed, but Lord Belial are certainly pushing for their “best ever” designation with the current album, and my soft spot just grew softer on the strength of The Black Curse.

The intent of the album is clear – deliver an eerie evil sounding music. The execution, however, is not trying to match the speed of Dark Funeral and Marduk or to steal and rehash Dissection old riffs. Instead, Lord Belial makes just about every one of their compositions on The Black Curse stand out and compete on its own terms, whether it is the grand and symphonic Trumpets of Doom, some of the most melodic black metal songs you will ever hear (Sworn), spiritual and expansive Unorthodox Catharsis or Black Mass pervasive Antichrist Reborn. To add to the band laying epic upon epic melodic riff (Devilish Enlightment), new and interesting elements are being used. The use of keyboards (Trumpets of Doom) or guitars which sound like keyboards (Primordial Incantation) is very fitting to the style of darkness Lord Belial are trying to create. Bloodlord’s (Anders Bakelin) bass is extremely active and given an ample room to roam (Trumpets of Doom, Unorthodox Catharsis), once in a while blending with an acoustic touch (Primordial Incantation). Effects (like “ringing the bell”, in lockstep with the lyrics on Primordial Incantation) are not overused and timely, and the music is a lot more about musicianship than the gimmicks. Just witness the arpeggiated leads on, again, Primordial Incantation, or the sliding angular guitarwork on Soulgate. Something one would expect from the scene veterans.

If I had any complaints, I am still not entirely sold on the snare drum sound, way too plastic and tinny at the same time. The bass drum also lacks power. Given the amount of blast and double bass work Sin (Micke Backelin) puts in, the man deserves better treatment at the soundboard. Sometimes the rhythmic structure becomes too metronomic and mechanical (Inexorable Retribution, Antichrist Reborn), but the unexpected piano swells (Inexorable Retribution) or a spoken lyric followed by a briefly clean multi-vocal Black Mass chorus in Antichrist Reborn erase any impression of staleness.

If I did overemphasize the melodic aspect of the album, do not get me wrong, the opener Pazuzu – Lord of Fevers and Plague offers plenty of lamenting beat, Ascension of Lilith is both vibrant and vibrating, while the closer Soulgate can be a straightforward jackhammer at times. To complete the Swedish black metal picture Dark’s (Thomas Backelin) vocals are still their dry legible self, only periodically given an effect treatment when the sounds are coming out exhaled from deep inside his lungs (Sworn). This style promulgates the lyrics about all those sinister forces lurking in the realm of the demonic.

Every song leaving an impression, it would be a shame if The Black Curse is going to be overlooked, swallowed by the likes of Marduk and Dimmu Borgir.

Killing Songs :
Trumpets of Doom, Primordial Incantation, Devilish Enlightment
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Lord Belial that we have reviewed:
Lord Belial - Revelation reviewed by Alex and quoted 79 / 100
Lord Belial - The Seal Of Belial reviewed by Jack and quoted 90 / 100
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