Bastard Priest - Ghouls of the Endless Night (Pulverised)

Bastard Priest has conjured a modern classic right out of the gate. What will they do for an encore?
Release Date: 
7 Nov 2011 - 1:30am

Some day, this whole retro death metal fad where every band tries to recapture the sounds of the nascent Swedish and Florida death metal scenes will start to grate on people's nerves. There will be a record, and no one will know exactly which one it is, but there will be one that will be the album that puts us over the threshold, and turns back the tide—the one that brings the backlash of hate. Ghouls of the Endless Night, the second full length album by two-man death metal machine Bastard Priest, is not that record. In fact, it is just the opposite. Bands of olden death metal ilk take note.

Bastard Priest perfectly encapsulates the early sounds of Swedish death metal—appropriate, given that the band is from Sweden—and brings back the glory days of Entombed with that classic buzz saw Boss pedal tone, horror inspired lyrics, whammy bar solos and atmospheric dives a la Trey Azagthoth, and gravel-voiced vocals. Songs such as the title track have that unmistakable Swedish bounce and chop, perfectly emulating the classics with dark and sinister precision that rails against modern, sterile production in favor of something with flaws and raw, overdriven substance—power and explosiveness without sacrificing clarity. Death to laptop metal!

Early Death, Massacre, Pestilence, Cancer—take your pick. All the best parts of these bands are present. Sometimes a rip off is so good that you forget it's a rip off and just revel in the decadent, searing filth. If this record had been released in 1989, we'd be praising it as a death metal essential right alongside Altars of Madness. We can't turn back the clock, but we can damn sure enjoy a backward glance.

Bastard Priest know how to be fast, sloppy, raw, and out of control, but also take on the measured homage on Poison, a slow, bludgeoning number with anguished wails of the souls of the damned careening in the background, and on Last Scream, which proves the band doesn't always have to be blasting and chopping away to leave a distinct, indelible impression. It's a worthy tribute to the masters. The attention to detail is what puts the album over the top, but the guitar tone makes the record—simple, overdriven, and old school. It cuts through the mix and drives a blade straight to the primitive sector of the brain. When coupled with the driving beats, such as the ode to d-beat blast on Fucking Slaughter, it's an obsessing, bewitching combination.

There are Obituary moments as well, such as on Sacrilegious Ground, a song which lets the buzz saw chords ring out and slice and tear. It's lyrically catchy, too, with repetitiously infectious choruses alongside some well placed flange and a booming, echoing floor tom. The vocals remind of another classic band, Repulsion. How many more classics can one band possibly conjure? It took a village of death metal demons to raise this primitive and powerful bastard child.

Ghouls of the Endless Night ends on an especially ominous note with Enormous Thunder of the End, with its slow, deliberate intro that gives way to the blast with some grinding death metal riffing that's equal parts knuckle drag and blast bait and switch. Sometimes it's harder to make something simple with impact than it is to wank out with technical proficiency for four or five minutes song after song. On a grisly, visceral level, death metal like this doesn't come around all that often.