Refusing to confine themselves to one genre, Wichita’s Bestialord tightly walks the line between thrash, death, and doom metal. The songwriting approach on their debut, Law of the Burning, feels like a more mid-tempo approach to Nunslaughter’s style of death metal ripped straight from the womb of thrash. Blend this with the more melodic sensibilities of contemporary Sodom, and perhaps a dash of Goatlord’s penchant for doom, for a record that has the potential to pack a real punch. Bestialord have chosen to keep things fairly clean in the production realm, eschewing atmosphere entirely and relying completely on the power of the songs. What the band delivers is decent, yet largely unremarkable.
Beneath the surface there’s not a lot going on. The lyrics come off as copy/pasted from the Death Metal Handbook™, despite the more-than-serviceable vocal performance by Mark Anderson. While not falling victim to overproduction, the lack of discerning production characteristics results in failing to capture the listener’s imagination. The biggest standout of the album is the guitar work, from the solos in the hammer-on frenzy of “I Am Pain” (one of the doomier, and better, tracks) to the melodic wailer on “Loathed Be Thy Name”. Of particular note are the Phrygian breakdown sections of album opener “The Doom That Came” and title-track ripper “Law of the Burning” that perhaps serve as a nod to mid-era Death. Moments like these shone brightly, and finding creative ways to blend in other bits of influence could add some much-needed meat to the album.
Law of the Burning is one of those records I really want to like, yet it falls in a murky era where I feel I can appreciate it more than I can truly enjoy it. It’s a solid, honest effort but fails to leave a more lasting impression. Bestialord pay a bit of a price for playing it safe here and instead of sounding like a fresh, inspired debut recording, Law of the Burning sounds more like a band that’s been churning out similar material for the last twenty years. It’s an enjoyable ride while it’s happening, with a pedigree for potential, but it doesn’t leave me wanting to return for more.