Bedemon – Child of Darkness (Relapse)

Thursday, 12th March 2015
Rating: 7.5/10

The campaign to bring to light Pentagram’s undeniable influence rages on, this time in the form of the pre-Pentagram (or side-Pentagram, depending on who you ask) Bedemon. An early 70’s occult rock/proto-metal outfit, Bedemon featured most of the classic Pentagram lineup in its ranks, clanking together a series of demos across the 70s that are seeing re-release via Relapse. Apparently, these songs were recorded in guitarist Randy Palmer’s basement, never intended to see the light of day, so many in the doom scene consider these songs to be absolute treasures, hence the release of the 15-song Child of Darkness.

Recording quality is nil, of course. Basement recordings in the 70s on par with some black metal’s worst audio moments, so forgiveness and/or leniency is needed to make these songs stick. Vocalist Bobby Liebling (he of Pentagram and drug infamy) lays down his patented howl, warbling along much like he always did in Pentagram. He’s either nasally or chilling depending on your mood, but the pre-doom impact of “Enslaver of Humanity,” “One-Way Road” and “Through the Gates of Hell” provide rudiments for what eventually followed in Pentagram and Sabbath’s wake. Palmer’s songwriting quality never wavers across the demos; he’s a capable riff and hook-writer (love the hard-jamming of “Drive Me to the Grave” and “Into the Grave.” Wonder what the infatuation with the word “grave” was all about?).

Primarily a collector’s item, and rightfully so, Child of Darkness captures American doom at its most early and raw stages. Working one’s way back to this time requires somewhat of an understanding of where doom is today (it’s all over the place), so the fundamental riff patterns, vocal lines, and overall atmosphere Bedemon (their name is the supposed combination of Behemoth and Demon) creates here is time-honored. Such music will never go out of style.

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