ALBUM REVIEW: King Baal – Conjurements

7/10

King Baal - Conjurements

Describing their music as “Somewhere between Doom, Symphonic and pure Heavy Metal”; this Portuguese four-piece concept is based on “King Solomon’s Lemegeton” (also known as The Lesser Key of Solomon or Clavicula Salomonis Regis – an anonymous 17th Century grimoire (textbook of magic).

Guitarist and vocalist Narciso Monteiro explained that “Baal is one of the main demons in the hierarchy and he is also a King; hence the band name King Baal.  Whilst “extreme metal band(s)” including Cradle of Filth have undoubtedly inspired King Baal’s sound and frontwoman Joana Carvalho proclaiming “We are real metalheads…”; the individual band members site King Crimson, The Doors and Led Zeppelin as their favourite bands.

This debut effort opens with “Pseudominarchia Daemonum” (also known as False Monarchy of Demons) which began life in the sixteenth century as an appendix to the book “De praestigiis daemonum” (On the tricks of demons) by Johann Weyer. In “De praestigiis daemonum”, Weyer argued that witchcraft was “psychological rather than supernatural (cooperation with a spiritual evil)” which influenced the abolition of witchcraft trials in the Netherlands. “Pseudominarchia Daemonum”, an instrumental, opens with Gregorian chant style music before reaching a crescendo with an unnerving cacophony of the raw energy of heavy guitars along with higher-pitched guitar solos seen in musical hits such as “Jesus Christ Superstar Overture”.

“The Grand Judgement” sees Carvalho showing her operatic rich vocals with Monteiro’s spoken and screaming vocals.  “The Grand Judgement” opens with melancholy violins, giving way to a metal interpretation of the title song from The Phantom of The Opera by cranking up the guitars and bass whilst ditching the organ eighties-style production thereby creating a darker ambience. “Immortality” opens in a similar fashion with the addition of subtle, quiescent high pitched piano keys. Monteiro’s spoken and screaming vocals intensify here whilst Carvalho enchants by singing about ones “demons desires” and holding “you for eternity”.

Whilst Conjurements has an overriding dark mood and metal feel; there are several places where King Baal part from this sound. “Solomon’s Arrival”, the man who inspired King Baals’ band concept begins life as a mystical psychedelic track on a par with Kula Shaker’s “Sleeping Jiva” or The Velvet Undergrounds’ “Venus in Furs”. This instrumental then suddenly and surprisingly explodes into a classic heavy metal soundscape with impressive higher-pitched guitar solos. “Let’s Murder Together”, beginning with no sombre introduction is closer to the work of heavy rock and glam rock outfits like King Adora and Rachel Stamp. Carvalho’s seductive operatic vocals reach new peaks as she sings a love song about “the idea of murdering together” which expresses “love and devotion in its deepest nature”.

With King Baal finalising their band line-up during “these times of COVID “; King Baal has not had the opportunity to play any live shows. When the occasion arises, penultimate album track, “Touched by the kiss of Lucifer” will be King Baal’s greatest galvaniser at creating mosh pits and testosterone peaking elation from fans with Carvalho singing about going “one step closer to madness” and the absence of “pleasure in reason”.

Playout track, “Geradiel” a song about a demon and wandering duke of the air who never stays in one place with 18.500 good-natured servants at his command. Is probably the purest metal track across Conjurements. The drumming’s intensity resembles Cradle of Filth’s “Born in a Burial Gown”  where Monteiro’s screaming vocals are at their fiercest.

Considering Joana Carvalho has suffered from stage fright, with her band members, she certainly knows how to entice and captivate a listener whilst slightly unnerving them too. King Baal chose a band and LP theme and stuck to it. Fear not about this band not having performed live; the band members have previous live experience in different groups. These “real metalheads” stay true by providing a dark atmosphere to Conjurements whilst also occasionally meandering away from metal which injects added positivity into their haunting lyrics.

One must separate King Baal from their lyrics for King Baal are extremely polite. When asked to list the artists, they didn’t want to collaborate with; Narciso Monteiro answered: “more than one, but it’s not polite to say”.

 

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