Beastmaker are a prime example of doom metal revival. They joined this revival slightly late, releasing their debut album in 2016, but came in with such force and energy that it is hard to ignore them. The band’s first record, Lusus Naturae, took everyone by surprise, with its raw energy and its ’70s doom and proto-heavy metal influence. Even though it was not perfect, it was a great first step for the band.
Inside The Skull comes just one year after Lusus Naturae, and the band is seriously stepping up its game. They return with an improved production, capable of retaining their raw essence and at the same time presenting it with more clarity. But more importantly, Beastmaker structure their work more efficiently. Trimming down any unnecessary fat, the record clocks just under 40 minutes, with the music retaining its energy throughout, and without causing any listening fatigue.
On the actual sound, Beastmaker have been marinating in the Sabbath-ian sauce, when it comes to the heavy riffs and their overall perspective. The old-school tone is alive and vibrant in their music, not rehashed and hollow, showing a deep affection for the style. What further enhances this quality is the fact that the band is comprised of really good musicians. In heavy rock and doom bands, technicality does not score high as a requirement, but on the classic form that Beastmaker takes, there is a need for a higher technical aptitude. Obviously, do not expect them to go virtuoso on you, but their playing is just right. The flourishes of the drumming compliments the groove, while the guitar solos are fantastic and well placed. It is another quality that has been augmented through this filtering process that resulted in a shorter album, with Beastmaker making sure that each note, each drum hit, has its place and purpose.
Label: Rise Above Records
More importantly, though, this is a record about feeling and having the right frame of mind. Despite the music being heavy and dark, it needs to be memorable. Inside The Skull is filled with nice hooks, presenting fantastic chorus lines, in “Heaven to Hell” and intoxicating grooves, in “Of Gods Creation.” On the other hand, doom comes hand in hand with a horror enrichment. This has been the case since the days of Black Sabbath, and even more during the ’90s with Cathedral and Electric Wizard, making it a trademark of the genre for years to come. Beastmaker, however, display an allure towards the heavy rock horrors of Danzig, acquiring a different take than some of their contemporaries. Coupled with a slight dose of psychedelia, which gets more obscure and menacing, as in “Now Howls The Beast” rather than fun and trippy, the resulting album is a complete offering.
End of the day, Inside the Skull is an excellent album of proto-heavy metal, with Beastmaker presenting an energetic work, filled with the weight of doom, the horror themes, subtle traces of psychedelic rock, sharp guitar riffs of heavy metal goodness, all of which build further the narrative that was introduced in Lusus Naturae.