Regret Beyond Death by Bible Black TyrantRelease date: February 16, 2018
Label: Argonauta Records
For the most part, the melodies resolve, and there’s a clear, even simplistic music theory at play here.
Okay, are you still there? Right. That’s probably a make or break point for a lot of people who listen to a lot of various heavy subgenres, so best to get it out of the way as quick as possible.
When I first listened to Bible Black Tyrant’s Regret Beyond Death, I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind. I didn’t get the album, and I seemed to willfully want to dislike it. It was like I had just discovered a new allergy. But that’s because I was listening to the album all wrong.
A metal supergroup of sorts, Bible Black Tyrant was billed for fans of Yob, which thrilled me because Yob’s just the tops. At first, that’s not the vibe you get. That’s not to say there aren’t crushingly doomy and sludgy parts that are alone worth the price of admission. The second half of track 2, ‘The Irony’, is suitably mad, and it’s completely overwhelming with its combination of face melting riffs and the utterly fantastic drumming. See, and then it switches to a nice calming melody. And the next track immediately hits you again with the crushing riffs until it also momentarily highlights what sounds to me to be an arabesque guitar melody, which then devolves into an almost Tom Morello breakdown.
All of this is to say that there’s more than a little post-rock melodic stuff happening here. Normally, I’m pretty quick to write that stuff off, especially since so much of the scene sounds so damn similar. The metal of a lot of post-metal/post-rock/post-whatever is generally about as heavy as Gilbert and Sullivan, but without the ear for constructing memorable and interesting melodies.
Thinking along that line is precisely when it hit me: this is kind of baroque doom metal. The flighty attitude towards composition is less about post-rock wankery, but what seems to be an honest desire to create what pop maestro Brian Wilson called “pocket symphonies”. The push and pull tension within the melodic lines coupled with the, quite frankly, lush production should have tipped me off, but I was too busy trying to reach for clichés that matched the guitar tone instead of listening to the music. But this album is baroque in the sense that it is tightly composed, creating neat individual little worlds, which seems like a fantastically unique idea (at least paired with this level of heaviness and screamed vocals). Now, does this succeed all the time? Sadly no. The first track is something that maybe should have been booted off the album. Track 5, ‘Wilderness of Steel and Stone’ is absolutely trite; the soaring resolutions of the guitar around beginning around minute 4 sound almost silly, and the guitar tone is ripped from a Pelican album. But points for trying all around, and I mean that sincerely.
This all points to what frustrates me about this album. There are so many great ideas at play, so many moments of genius (let me reiterate: a Tom Morello style breakdown following an arabesque guitar part!), which seem truly special and really sets this band apart from the rest of the scene that they are clearly being lumped in with. And see, that’s the thing; this band really needs to not be “in a scene”. There’s still too much that marries the sound of this band to its surroundings, to the things we’ve heard a million times before. But I have to say that I’m excited for whatever comes next for this band, and I hope they chart out their own path, lean into the inherent weirdness of baroque doom metal, and see the potential of what they are doing. And maybe listen to some more Brian Wilson.