LORD BELIAL - The Seal of Belial (REGAIN Records CD 2004)
Damn, I have not listened to Lord Belial in ages. Back in the late 90's they were quite popular, "Enter the Moonlight Gate" was pretty well received here in Poland (who doesn't remember "" for fuck sake? ) and I also liked it a lot. "Unholy Crusade" and "" were pretty good albums. But it's been long time since I played any of them. No reason, really, I probably just forgot about them completely. Few days I decided to give a listen to "The Seal of Belial", which is Lord Belial's 2004 album, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot. I never really gave it enough listens, to be honest. When I bought my copy of CD I probably played it few times and then putted it away for years. My mistake, it seems, because I truly like it now and gave it many listens. It definitely is way better than I remembered and expected, I am not sure if I can say that it's the best Lord Belial album or not - because I would have to come back to all their early efforts also, but I am sure that it's one of their best for sure.
Lord Belial plays quite original style of melodic black metal, which is very recognizable and characteristic just for this band. You can listen to a short fragment of any of their songs, from any album, and you will immediately recognize that this is Lord Belial. They quite successfully blend Swedish black metal aggression and harshness with melody and epic or melancholic parts. They have their own style for , the mentioned harmonies or arrangements are specific and even the vocals of Thomas "Dark" are recognizable. That melodic side makes their music quite easy to get into, it's catchy and memorable, what can be a bad thing to some black metal purists, who will think this is too melodic and too nice to listen to. But fuck that. "The Seal of Belial" is great album, filled with great songs and it's a damn good listen.
Basically, every song here is a potential standout. I can't find any bad fragments on this album, even the female vocals (which usually I don't like to hear) are OK and don't bother me. Maybe the album could have been a bit faster and even rawer, with a bit more aggression, but there's such a good dose of great riffs and melodies that it simply doesn't matter. And it's dark and vicious sounding anyway. It's also almost beautiful at times, but maybe this also why this music is so good - because it brings many different emotions and is diverse and damn well composed. I suppose it was always Lord Belial's trademark and I am sure that "The Seal of Belial" is one of their finest achievements, with such tracks as "Scythe of Death", "Mark of the Beast" and "Abysmal Hate" as real highlights. I am very positively surprised with it, I didn't expect that I will enjoy it as much, I'm very happy then that I got this idea to play this album. Now I know that I have to wipe the dust of some other Lord Belial CDs as well.
Standout tracks: "Scythe of Death", "Mark of the Beast", "Abysmal Hate"
Final rate: 75/100