Grand Belial's Key
posted on 3/2006 By:
Grand Belial’s Key is one of the most polarizing bands out there due to their open affiliation with NS philosophy. I am sure that this writeup will spark debate as to whether bands linked to fascist, racist, and other controversial viewpoints should even be considered for review. I have attempted to judge this recording solely on its musical content, which I find to be of high quality. Those who believe that art which is inextricably connected with distasteful ideology is not worthy of consideration would be wise to stop reading at this point. With that caveat out of the way, on to the review:
This is a great black metal album, probably one of the best “contemporary” examples of the genre. GBK’s stripped-down, riff-oriented, and relatively technical take on the genre is doubly welcome in a scene where a number of popular bands cannot really play their instruments properly. GBK compositions are fairly lengthy affairs with a certain progressive element to them, though central riffs and motifs hold the songs together. While bands like Destroyer 666 incorporate black metal influences into thrash metal, Grand Belial’s Key do the reverse, playing not blackened thrash but “thrashened” black if you will. The band regularly pads their compositions with meandering slower sections. Though this can throw off the momentum of the tracks to a certain extent, it gives GBK tracks a feeling of greater musical depth. In much the same manner, the occasional, sparing use of keyboards, heard on cuts such as “Sun Of the Black Ram,” serves to highlight rather than detract from the parts in question. The acoustic interlude on “The Tricifixion Of Swine” is utterly uncharacteristic of the band, and stands as a good example of their keen sense of melody and songwriting. “Vultures of Misfortune,” a cut which takes aim at GBK’s usual target, Judeochristianity, opens with a traditional Yiddish melody which is later incorporated into the song’s main riff. If the reader is curious about this album’s lyrical content, the majority of it consists of religion being lambasted via pseudo-historical accounts of biblical times written in roughly the same manner as scripture but rife with accounts of sexual perversion.
As with all black metal, the songwriting itself is of more importance than the technicality employed in bringing the music to fruition, but make no mistake: Grand Belial’s Key are excellent technicians. Though none of this material is outrageously difficult to perform, GBK outstrip most of their competitors on the musicianship front. The band’s guitarist is obviously familiar with the upper fretboard of his guitar and is able to solo in an enjoyable fashion, while the rhythm section is rock solid. The drummer seems to take more inspiration from the percussion style employed in traditional metal than from the trite blastbeats that plague the genre, bringing a refreshing approach to this recording. The vocals have far more depth to them than those of the typical black metal release, and the production is outstanding; the guitar tone is excellent, and the band obviously reject the notion that black metal should be devoid of lower-frequency sounds.
Grand Belial’s Key have produced an album that easily matches their previous two classics. Though my first reaction was lukewarm, repeated listening demonstrated that I had initially misjudged Kosherat. This is a great album, and it cements GBK’s reputation as the greatest American black metal band. I hate to sound like an apologist, but though the band’s ideology is ill-conceived, their music is irreproachable.
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