Beastmaker - Inside the Skull
If you have any doubt about what type of music Beastmaker play, you only need to wait for the obscuring haze of light and fog that envelops the stage, and the nasally tomes of a Vincent Price quote. Trevor Church (g/v) will dispense with the greetings, then retreat back into obscurity to pound out riff after sinister riff. Doom, even in its current incarnation, thrives on this kind of theatricality. You cannot take yourself too seriously when invoking the devil. It’s really the same approach Sabbath took: Make sure the riffs are sharpened to kill, let the smoke roll, and grin with the audience as they share your love of the subject matter. Freaks of nature all.
With Inside the Skull though, the band take chance to step out of the murk and let the music take center stage. The songs are concise by doom standard, and none stretch much beyond the five-minute mark, most are under four. The production is clear and unobtrusive, something like an idealized live sound. As a whole the album feels a little less doomy in the slow dirge sense than Lusus Naturae, just a hair more uptempo overall - maybe a little more modern. But the guitars still crush like good doom guitars should, and the riffs beckon you to snap your neck in unison. Church is a great front-man, and it’s true, the Ozzy comparisons can’t be avoided. But that’s why we listen to these bands, we do it for the love of the sound, and the chance to throw up the devil horns, the musical equivalent of comfort food. It’s all about the execution and pushing the sonics just enough to keep things fresh.
And they execute well. Evil One makes a strong start right out of the gate with maybe the catchiest track on the album. Nature of the Damned works off a stately shambling line, but leans in to a nice galloping time change as as hell breaks loose. Psychic Visions mines a bluesier vein with a woozy seesaw riff and some soaring lead lines. And I love the lyric on the title track. Being trapped inside your skull is indeed both beautiful and miserable. About as fine a way of describing the horror of the human condition as you'll need.
Beastmaker are also more than capable of delivering some nice, atmospheric breakdowns, with nimble guitar solos as embellishment, and some subtlety to the arrangements, like on Heaven to Hell, or Now Howls the Beast, where Lucifer’s Johanna Sardonis takes a guest vocal turn. If I had a gripe, It’d be that I want to hear more of this side of the band. Give me a nice slow build of dread, some tension and release like the horror films Church takes as inspiration. But until then, two fistfuls of driving doom are nothing to sneer at.
Seven and a half Abominable Eternities in Doom out of Nine.