It’s arguable that the earliest seeds of black metal were planted when Robert Johnson first fell to his knees at the Crossroads. The turn to darkness is a Hail Mary–all faith is lost, the temptation to turn to the darkness is one born of emotional trauma to the point where one sacrifices their values to achieve their desires. The sheer desperation in Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 staple, “I Put A Spell On You,” recorded blackout drunk in the wee hours of the morning, channeled every bit of frustration he had at whomsoever it was that done him wrong into that song. Raw. Unfiltered. Unrestrained by the basic human lense we apply to our typical interactions. That liquor let loose a beast, and I’d be willing to bet the target of the song suffered in someway, after all, we still know Screaming’ Jay’s name but not that of who broke his heart. That raw, emotional outburst let loose in the studio in the witching hours of the morning became something special.
Fast forward through rock ‘n’ roll and the demons that plagued it, and that cursed spirit of channeling from the Great Beyond still lives a few generations forward into heavy metal. While the influences and artistic interpretations may be different, it’s not difficult to draw esoteric similarities between the ’56 Jay Hawkins single and Beherit’s ’93 album Drawing Down The Moon. Both feel loose, animalistic, improvised, and surrendering their frustrations to the Left Hand.
The album opens with the title track, and “Lurking” is a proper adjective to add to the title of both. The pacing borders on doom realms, accentuated by the ever-welcome, ever-ominous labored hammer of bells. Even when the tempo picks up to blasts, it’s still weighed down by this weighted, earthen burden that makes it feel all the more like an unseen aggression, biding its time in the shadows. Waiting. Lurking. These bursts of hostility never last long before returning to its menacing, stalking lurch. The raw, improvised elements translate as animalistic and feral desire, dripping with rabid, unpredictable malice that unleashes it’s teeth with the gnarled, twisted riff of “Necromanticism.”
Beneath the bestial lust and raw ferocity of the music, there is a very organic groove, particularly in the percussion department. The full swing of the kick drums sets a pace, with the snaps of the snare hitting like the shovel of a an experienced gravedigger in the midst of the stride of their labor, pulsating forward through “Necrotic Oath,” until….
…the throbbing pulse dissolves into emptiness. The ghastly echoes that reverberate in the empty chamber are the only signs of life that remain. A constant, steady drip punctuates just how ancient and decrepit the tomb of Wurdualc really is. The ambience has depth, it’s hard not to hear footsteps beyond the drips (or was that just the imagination?). It builds tension before bursting into one of the most sadistic and depraved cuts on the record. The riff slides like a chainsaw cutting through bone, lacerating the soundscape as the guitar effects swirl like LSD-induced light trails in the soot-ridden catacombs. “Shadow” plays things a little more straightforward, relying on the visceral blasting to drive the song to it’s doom-drenched conclusion.
This isn’t to say the drums are overly simplistic, the hypnotic syncopation on “Eternal Eye” fully brings out the band’s weirdness from a different perspective. Those otherworldly synth sounds rise from the din like ghosts in the mist as the downtuned guitars drag their knuckles deeper into the soil of the tomb. The bass presence is felt heavily, adding to the crunching weight of the sound, particularlly on album closer “Empty Crypt.” The dull glow of the synths draws the ending to Lurking Hand Of Fate as the tomb Wurdulac has been lurking in collapses in on itself in a final barrage of blast beats. The vocals are but the distant cry of an unfulfilled curse, as though swearing to return stronger than ever. The record as a whole is rich and textured by the nutrients of decay–there’s no thin, whispy tremolos. It’s all warm, steaming earthen crunch that, coupled with the raw improvisational feel, bring the heaviness of the riffs to life.
As a final touch, the chimes that opened the record return in it’s final moments, circling the ouroboros and closing off Wurdulac’s delectable, decrepit hex of ritualistic raw black doom…
*Pro tapes are still available via Wurdulac’s Bandcamp page