BLACK BEAST: Nocturnal Bloodlust
Release year: 2019
Label: Primitive Reaction
Formed already in the early noughties, Black Beast from Finland released just one EP and one split in the years following their inception. Between 2006 and 2019 things were very silent at least on the recording front: apart from a few compilation tracks, the group released nothing. This is the band’s first and only material released during the 2010’s!
But: good things come to those who wait. Black Beast’s debut full-length album Nocturnal Bloodlust is a fine sign of life from the Finnish three-piece.
The album starts with an instrumental simply titled Prelude, a rather short but epic piece that evokes the majestic atmospheres of viking-era Bathory. This is not a portent of things to come, for even though Black Beast do have several non-negligible first wave black metal influences in their music, that particular era of Bathory is not heard anywhere else on the album.
The roots of Black Beast’s take on black metal lie for the most part firmly in the second wave. This means the music is mainly fast, shredding, vicious and straightforward. Whilst there certainly are nods towards the Norwegian cult acts, and why not also some to 90’s Finnish pioneers, I feel that the strongest counterparts are to be found among the Swedish bands. There’s the same kind of dark, ominious tremolo-picking melodicism that retains a raw edge, and the for the most part speedy tempos also remind one of acts such as Marduk, Dark Funeral and Setherial. Complete with gruff and vicious snarling vocals and the occasional atmospheric riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the darkness on Nocturnal Bloodlust is convincing.
The occasional nod towards first wave black metal in the framework of a very second wave based sound lends Black Beast a somewhat Darkthrone-esque side to their sound, with the same kind of second wave guitarwork meets Hellhammer d-beat -vibe. And then, for example, the sparsely and tastefully used synths, evident on closing track Symbol Of My Creation, provide subtle hints towards the more atmospheric 90’s bands. Black Beast’s stew consists of many ingredients.
Original it ain’t, but at the same time Black Beast don’t sound like a carbon copy of any single act or even scene. Combining plenty of references to 90’s black metal, Black Beast find themselves in that “familiar but not too familiar” territory, where you can pick out plenty of well-used elements, but the outcome of the Finnish group’s combination of them sounds relatively fresh. And even more importantly: it sounds good.
Ultimately, Nocturnal Bloodlust is an interesting assembly of many different strengths. Its furious onslaught of blastbeating is balanced by slower sections of atmospheric riffing and rocking sections where the first wave influences become apparent. The combination and balance lends a certain degree of originality to Black Beast.