Originally written by Jeremy Garner
I’ve met a lot of people who consider Lord Belial to be the token underachievers of black metal. Personally I disagree. Granted I can’t really point to any releases from their back catalog as a landmark release or even quintessential, but they’ve never released a bad album per se. If anything can be said about the band, it’s that they’re dependable, especially considering there really haven’t been that many stylistic changes over the years. Lord Belial still proudly flies the flag of classic Swedish black metal, playing mid-paced melancholic black metal very much in the vein of Dissection with influences from Swedish death metal. While by no means revolutionary, Lord Belial always has had a knack for seamlessly blending together the two styles and emerging with enough of a distinctive voice to stand out.
As far as changes are concerned, they have backed off a good bit from the Swedish death metal elements of their sound that had become increasingly more prominent ever since Angelgrinder and were in the forefront of their sound during The Seal of Belial. This might put off a few fans here and there as a bit too regressive, but even if you don’t mind the return to orthodox form, it’s pretty clear any steps Lord Belial were making towards creating something they could truly call their own were either forgotten or abandoned. In fact, Revelation sounds a good bit more like the tired sequel to Enter the Moonlight Gate than the follow-up to Nocturnal Beast (just a good bit less powerful, slower, and without all the classical influence). And while in some respects I do think they’ve gone back to what they do best, it’s as if Lord Belial were a magician continually performing the same tricks and still expecting the audience to be amazed. Even though the band can still write better than average Swedish black metal, the album bleeds together a bit more than is welcome. Certain riffs, rather than entire songs stand out on their merits. “Ancient Splendor”, “Aghast”, “Unspoken Veneration”, “Death Cult Era” and “Vile Intervention” are all decent songs, but they don’t really stick with you. Yeah, they’re definitely better written than most melodic black metal bands I’ve heard, but I can’t quite stop feeling like Lord Belial are reflecting too much on their past material for inspiration rather than creating anything new.
Revelation is a bit of a strange album for me to write about. It’s not boring by any means, I don’t mind listening to the album, it just barely does enough for me to keep me from putting on something else. I think the main problem with Revelation is that Lord Belial play it way too safe. Not a bad album by any means, just a bit too comfortable for my taste.