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Belial album review – Nihil Est

Dizzying but dense punishment from Wiltshire debutants Belial

Belial album cover

Such has been the evolving quality of tech-metal that bands can no longer be just proficient in polyrhythms and emulating Meshuggah’s tone.

Rather than dazzling with inhuman musicianship, Belial’s focus is squarely aimed at heaviness. Featuring 10 songs and instrumental versions of half the album, the Swindon mob shift between ferocious passages and intricate assaults right out of the traps. Odium’s screeches and synthetic strings lend a nod to black metal while the brute force and breakdowns of Heroin Holidays is as belligerent as anything in deathcore’s arsenal. In Extremis is augmented by a host of electronic stabs and sinister keys, while the melodic meanderings of Eon offer a shift in direction, with grisly growls struggling to keep the track rooted in the album’s suffocating mire. As with most of their ilk there’s very little to hold onto beyond the pulsating structures but the likes of Wraiths have a coherence looming under a wall of rage, while the riffs peppered through Host have as much groove as fretboard pyrotechnics.

Rugby, Sean Bean and power ballad superfan Adam has been writing for Hammer since 2007, and has a bad habit of constructing sentences longer than most Dream Theater songs. Can usually be found cowering at the back of gigs in Bristol and Cardiff. Bruce Dickinson once called him a 'sad bastard'.