Earlier this year I spent a few words on Lord Belia’s latest album, ‘Rapture’ (Hammerheart Records), but that wasn’t the only release that was sent out to us that carried the Lord Belial name on it. Earlier this year Iron Bonehead Productions reissued the bands’ two demo’s from 1993 and 1994. Not quite an original idea though, since they had been reissued before by Regain Records in 2008 on CD and a vinyl release was already done by Floga Records in 2014. But Iron Bonehead Productions thought it might have been a good idea to get them out again, and so did VIC Records, who decided to do another run on CD as well.
Which makes you wonder, really. Both demos are of solid quality, but not quite spectacular. Both demos have a much deadlier sound, in the sense of that they are much more firmly rooted in Death Metal than how the band would appear on the later albums. Which is, frankly, the most interesting thing of these demo recordings, as the majority of the songs of both demos ended up on the bands’ debut record, ‘Kiss The Goat’ (No Fashion, 1995). That debut album is commonly hailed as the Swedes’ best effort. Though it might sound a little dated, it captured a band in transition. It showed the last traces of their more Death Metal oriented sound, which was most prominent on their ‘The Art Of Dying’ demo tape from 1993 and already firmly reduced a year later, on their 1994 ‘Into The Frozen Shadows’-demo. Though the band arguably never completely lost their Death Metal roots, it was further reduced from ‘Enter The Moonlight Gate’ and onwards, which had the band more focussed on what you could label as standard high speed and tremolo picked Swedish Black Metal. On both of these early recordings we hear a band that was not only stylistically in transition, but also musically. The compositions are of a simpler nature and does not flow as fluently as later on in their careers, which is only logical, keeping in mind we’re listening to demo recordings here. But it does show the development that the band went through in the early years of their career, also between the 1993 recordings and the 1994 recordings there is already a big difference. For example, if you listen to the first two tracks of ‘Into The Frozen Shadows’, there is already an interesting and creative experimentation with keyboards and for the first time you can hear something that the band would develop further on the later albums.
As is often the case with re-released demos from bands that are much further along in their musical careers, listening to these early recordings is especially important for developing a bit of musical historical awareness and context and much less for actual musical quality. That is also the case with this Lord Belial compilation, it is good to (once again) hear where the band comes from and to have documented these first steps. And although these demo recordings have a remarkably good sound and are certainly enjoyable, I will always prefer to go back to the first two albums, of which ‘Enter The Moonlight Gate’ remains my personal favourite.