Beastmaker – Inside the Skull (Rise Above)

Friday, 19th May 2017
Rating: 7/10

The guitar tone of Trevor Church is as such that you nearly forget there’s basic accompanying elements like bass, drums and vocals tied to Beastmaker’s sound. It’s like how Tony Iommi would sound circa 1974 if he had the benefit of modern production know-how. Considering the idea Beastmaker are so guitar-driven, that idea is not particularly far-fetched, for the ten cuts that make up the band’s Inside the Skull sophomore foray tend to overload the sonic spectrum and congeal somewhat comfortably into a vintage head-blast of Brit metal, even though the band is from Fresno, California.

Church also doubles on vocals, lending a pretty monotone, unemotional, Lee Dorrian-after-taking-a-nap approach, meaning, he’s got his one (or two) keys and relies exclusively upon them. While it would be unfair to ponder the idea of Beastmaker with a real vocal showman, Church occasionally has his moments, like on the creeping “Now Howls the Beast,” a number that harkens to when Ozzy was at his creepiest and most animated circa the mid-‘70s. “Give Me a Sign” emerges as the album’s obvious highlight, a slow-strolling cut that puts on a rare display of distortion restraint on Church’s part, while also unfurling one of the LP’s few legitimate vocal melodies.

But really, Inside the Skull all comes back to Church and his thunderous wall of guitars. His riffs are, appropriately, waxed right off Iommi’s cutting room floor, and wisely so. A good chunk of these are immediately catchy (“Heaven to Hell” and “Sick Sick Demon”), suggesting Mr. Church is destined to become one of doom’s latest-and-greatest riff craftsmen. There’s nary a fresh or new idea to be found on Inside the Skull, but, don’t forget: The riff above all else.

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