"Lusus Naturae" (Rise Above Limited; 2016)

Reviewed by Josh "Spudbeast" Bolton

A shadowy figure told me that Beastmaker dug up their instruments and equipment from a shallow grave in a remote woodland cemetery and began to record their debut album, "Lusus Naturae," under a full moon while weaving necromantic spells.

Ok, that’s (probably) not true, but Beastmaker does successful deliver one of the more engaging doom metal albums in recent years with their debut. Hailing from Fresno, Caliornia, Beastmaker is a new force on an already exciting doom metal battlefield. The album starts with “Clouds in the Sky” which leads with a funeral bell ringing in what I imagine would be a foggy morning, and then opens into a riff which sets the tone for what Beastmaker is all about: haunting, mid-paced doom metal (think “Relentless”-era Pentagram) with an unusual emphasis on vocals compared to be many doom acts.

“Eyes are Watching” opens with a mulchy riff courtesy of front man Trevor Church and rolls into some catchy and groovy verses. Trevor’s vocals in the mix are excellent throughout the album; they have a haunting quality to them really gives Beastmaker a cohesive thematic feeling. It’s refreshing for a doom band not to recycle the smooth desert-rock style vocals that are so common.

Archane” and “Skin Crawler” both deliver hard hitting doom, with the rhythm section really displaying their tightness in ‘Archane” (dem bass fills!). The two are followed by the more clean “Find the Stranger” which has some fantastic alternations between creepy acoustic fills and monumental sludgy mountains of riffs. “You Must Sin” has a great rock vibe with those Iommi pinch harmonics on full display.

“Burnt Offering” has a rusty razor of a riff and cowbell (more cowbell!) featured throughout. “Mask of Satan” is probably the most epic doom song under four minutes long, which leads me to my next point: One aspect I’d like to point out about “Lusus Naturae” is the song length. Doom as a genre is notorious for having songs generally pushing the ten minute mark. I mean this is the genre that spawned Sleep’s “Dopesmoker.” But with Beastmaker, the song times are relatively short. Only a single song runs over five minutes. So instead of a five song/45 minute album, we get a twelve song/45 minute album and it really does create a coolly different experience.

“It” emerges next and just gives me a total Lovecraftian-vibe of some horror rising from the sea. Slow and plodding, with Church’s wailing, incanting vocals, make a “It” a genuinely creepy song. "Astral Corpse" is another heavy hitter, chugging away with a wicked bass line. The title track "Lusus Naturae" and "The Strain" close out the album. “Lusus Naturae” in particular has a nice variety of pieces to it, from smooth interludes and soaring fills. “The Strain” is pure Sabbath worship and closes out with a killer guitar solo to finish the album.

With "Lusus Naturae," Beastmaker delivers about a solid of a debut as you can hope for. If you’re a fan of sinister riffs for your séances, look no further than this album. There are a some minor drawbacks: The production gets muddy at times with the drums sometimes getting lost in the mix, and if you’re looking for variety you’re not going to find it here: it’s nothing but thick and mean doom metal. But with such a solid debut those complaints are easily forgotten. I look forward to what Beastmaker has to offer in the future. And I have a feeling there future is really, really dark.

From the band’s name to the album art and title, Beastmaker’s debut LP, "Lusus Naturae" embodies doom metal. It oozes with the occult, darkness, and heaviness. A must-have for any fan of doom, but it goes great in any metal library. Fans of bands like Pentagram, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Windhand will find something to their liking here.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2016 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jun 2018 20:14:11 -0400.