The Sabbath tree of life extends its familiar branches yet again, and somehow our undying love for the arguable originators of doom allows our ears to perk at the slight chance that a new band might just crack the code without cloning the blueprint – legendary purveyors of the sublimely phantasmagoric, Cathedral, were certainly on to something, giving definitive nods to the masters, while fusing enough dance floor darkness and quirk to claim a branch all to themselves. The slickness of bands like Orchid, in their near flawless rendition of traditional Sabbathianisms almost comes off as the ultimate pseudo-ruse, as if their past several albums were in fact unreleased Sabbath material, unearthed from a 1972 time capsule, heisted, and repackaged – sometimes when you’re too good, you beat yourself at your own game.
Relative newcomers Beastmaker – John Tucker (bass), Andres Saldate (drums), and Trevor Church (guitars/vocals), have their own formula, roasted and de-christened in the Fresno, CA sun. The band broke on the scene with a killer EP You Must Sin that nailed the ‘blood-soaked vintage’ thing to a goddamn T. Their proper debut, Lusus Naturae (Rise Above Records) continues the momentum, exploring every cult horror theme imaginable over its 12 tracks – psychopathy, blood sucking freakdom, satanic mania – all the players are accounted for and then some. As the trio slowly crushes the doom and blues on cuts like opener Clouds In The Sky, Arachne, and the badass You Must Sin, you begin to realise there’s a bit more to this story than the usual riffing rehash of cheeky occult retro horror. Their method is, on the surface, surprisingly straight forward, but the deceptive simplicity of piecing the right grooves together can’t be stressed enough. Much of the record’s first half relies on simple chord progressions and strategic solo blues flourishes; but the spirit of its execution is the real beast on display – Skin Crawler chugs convincingly with enough of the Gaz (Jennings) fingerprint to throw us back to 1998, caravan and all. Trevor Church is like the Ozzy-Dorrian lovechild, his croons easily fitting the bill and controlling the ride.
But the victory lap on this rocker doesn’t really stop, and only gets tougher and meaner as the group tears through some of the record’s strongest material in Burnt Offering, the head banging atonal slaughterfest Mask Of Satan, and closer The Strain – all are a good taste of the band’s best attributes and reaffirms the strength in their philosophy. That is, taking a ‘by the numbers approach’, branding it on their terms, and executing the fuck out of it. What more could we want?
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore