Beastmaker - Inside the Skull - (8.5/10)
Published on May 22, 2017
Abandoned lies the b-movie theater. Boarded up and stripped bare, it stands as a monument of terror: early last year it was the site of inexplicable evil where the souls of young movie-going couples were consumed, their bodies left unidentifiable inside and outside the building. Some attempted to escape on foot, others in their vehicles. No matter how they fled, there were no survivors from that night in March. What horror could have possibly been unleashed to bring such exuberance to death? It has been dormant for just shy of twelve months but signs are pointing to its gruesome return. Cats and dogs are too afraid to venture outside; the children have nightmares; and murderous visions haunt the living as they feel that something is watching them. Slow and spine-chilling music can now be heard calling from within the theater, and the urban myths of the Beastmaker are whispered once again by the townsfolk. Little do they know how much this evil has grown, nor are they aware of the full extent of its power as it buries itself deep Inside the Skull…
It has been only a short time since the trio from Fresno unleashed their highly-praised debut Lusus Naturae on Rise Above Records, bursting out of the crypt with their horror-infused brand of doom metal, laying waste to all those who stumbled upon whilst simultaneously converting the many to their cult of heavy. Now Beastmaker have returned and are denser and better than ever, ready to prey upon the weak once again. Inside the Skull does not stray from the murky paths laid out on its predecessor (to the point some passages sound really familiar) but thanks to a mightier production the riffs churn out with even more crunch, the rhythm sections deals punishing blows to the head, and Trevor William Church’s vocals carry a greater sense of foreboding, especially when coupled with guest vocalist Johanna Sadonis on the devastating heaviness of ‘Now Howls the Beast’, where resounding evil lurks within every nook and cranny. This evil permeates across the entire album and fills out the spaces left untouched on their previous effort, thus shrouding it with the unsurmountable dread of where these punishingly doomy hooks will take you.
Where they take you is straight to where the real fear dwells. Within a moment of hitting play ‘The Evil One’ channels demonic ghouls with those hardened Pentagram-style riffs, raising them from the graves to roam the earth; the aforementioned ‘Now Howls The Beast’ and the super-doomy ‘Of Gods Creation’ easily corrupt the naïve flock who have been led astray by the call of these infectious grooves. But it is the power of the unholy trinity that deals the greatest damage: ‘Nature of the Damned’ is a gleeful spectre dancing with skyclad witches with its most recognisable motif across the whole of the album whilst ‘Psychic Visions’ rips at the flesh with unbridled heaviness, filling the mind with unthinkable terrors. The title track, introduced by Dr. Phibes himself, doesn’t need to convince the listener to bang their head within the nine eternities; it’s beautiful and miserable punishment is heavy beyond recognition as Church’s fingers grooving across the fretboard delivering catchy-as-hell chord progressions whilst chanting the words your psyche has been dreading.
Similar to Lusus, Inside the Skull is simple and direct in its delivery, but this time is filled with more infectious motifs enabling the music to stand out in front of the crawling fog its atmosphere conjures up. It brings the doom crashing down like an almighty hammer, whilst all around the abominations of the b-horror world rise to continue their predecessor’s work – this is where the album is unrelenting and a force not to be taken lightly. Just as the title suggests, it buries itself deep into the cranium and refuses to be removed; you find yourself spinning the record more and more until it controls your every whim. Long after the ‘Sick Sick Demon’ has visited its presence lingers on, and it will linger forevermore. Beastmaker, ladies and gentlemen, are here to stay…