BEAST OF DAMNATION: Dawn Of The Beast
Release year: 2019
Label: Black Sunset
If you were there in the late 90’s and early noughties, you might remember how large parts of the black metal scene waged a war against all things threatening the essence of true black metal. Those things included, but were not limited to, posers, the mainstream, fakes, synths, joke bands, Cradle Of Filth, non-satanic bands, commercialism, and goths.
The reason I’m mentioning this is because German Beast Of Damnation seem to be on this same crusade now, some 20 years later. It’s been a while since I’ve come across good old gothic black metal a’la the dreaded Cradle Of Filth and their Alchemy Gothic clad throngs of fans, but maybe it’s because stalwart guardians such as this German act crush the gothic faggot scum – their line, not mine – at the gates. I would venture a suggestion, that there are veritable legions of post-black metal bands, blackgaze bands, crappy bedroom DSBM bands and whatnot who pose a bigger “threat” to the purity of black metal in this day and age, but right now… we’re crushing goths.
Might of course be that Beast Of Damnation aren’t all that serious about it, which would of course be the preferable interpretation, but in that case they convey the joke kind of badly.
But enough about that, let’s move on to the music. One of my first impressions was that on their debut, Beast Of Damnation sound kind of like a less tighter Belphegor, and true enough: former session drummer Tomasz “Nefastus” Helberg played in Belphegor, and can be heard on their Pestapokalypse IV album.
Kind of like Belphegor, Beast Of Damnation are halfway melodic (but – obviously – no synths!), halfway blasting a’la the Swedish school of Dark Funeral, Setherial and company, with an added dollop of death metal accentuated by the occasional double-layered guttural growl. Apart from Belphegor, another point of reference are the types of German/Central European bands labels like Last Episode used to sign by the turn of the millennium, Pagan Winter and the likes – fast and hard, but considerably less tight than the aforementioned acts. Beast Of Damnation is somewhere between those two, leaning towards the rather polished sound of Big B.
Sadly, Dawn Of The Beast isn’t particularly good. Not only is it thoroughly unoriginal, qualitywise it also sounds a bit like leftovers from a Belphegor stew. Where Belphegor – a somewhat one-dimensional and, in the long run, repetitive band – occasionally manage to strike gold with their brand of melodious, blasting death-laced black metal, Beast Of Damnation quite frankly don’t. At the best of times, they sound as good as Belphegor on a mediocre day. And at worst, Dawn Of The Beast sounds dumb. Like the tirade against gothic black metal, Crush Gothic Faggot Scum, or the godawful cover of Hotel California, which wraps up the album on a decidedly bad note.
Derivative is the word I’m thinking of here. Beast Of Damnation sound like they’ve taken ideas from a narrow handful of groups and mashed them together, but instead of trying to find some kind of own angle, they’re content with doing what others have done before. And not even striving to do it better. At the same time, Beast Of Damnation isn’t truly bad – neither the songs nor the playing fall apart, the sounds are passable and Dawn Of The Beast is an all round tolerable listening experience. It’s just one that doesn’t stick with you in any way. One of those albums you can sit through a couple of times, but eventually you’ll start wondering why you’ve wasted so much time on it.