Friday, November 17, 2017

Album Review: Lady Beast - Vicious Breed

The end of the year is a tough time for records to come out, especially for newer bands that don't have much of a profile yet. Most of us have already heard about as much music as we can handle, and many of us have already turned out attention to sorting through our thoughts for the end of the year. That makes it difficult for anything else to penetrate our bubbles, and to get the attention we would be able to pay it at an earlier time. Between sorting what I've already heard, and preparing to block out the holidays for as long as I can, I don't have as much energy to carefully consider new albums as I would like to.

Lady Beast enters that fray with their sophomore album, a true metal record that aims to throw a little bit of everything classic into the pot. There will be twin-guitar harmonies, bits of thrash, and some heavy Sabbath-styled moments. Basically, Lady Beast is trying to take us through a brief history of where heavy metal was through the early 80s.

The opener, "Seal The Hex", throws much of that together just in the first two minutes. There's a soft guitar opening, a melodic lead, and a thrashing riff all before the vocals ever begin. And that moment is where the album comes into focus. There are two sides to Lady Beast's sound, which come with very different judgments. On the instrumental side, the band does a very nice job of sounding like a hard and heavy metal band from the 80s, with plenty of simple and catchy riffs, and plenty of attitude to power through the songs. The guitar tone is a bit fuzzier than I would like for something that's aiming to be old-school, but there's a warmth to the sound that is appealing. Musically, they do a good job of making a throwback record.

The problem is that the vocals don't do anything to help the songs out. Deborah Levine is a decent singer, and she has enough of a voice to pull off the kind of music Lady Beast is trying to make, but the writing isn't strong enough. That's true about a lot of the traditional metal I hear, and it consistently drags down what could be pretty good albums. Listening to these eight tracks, there isn't a single vocal line that you can remember after the record is over. I'm not saying that you have to have pop melodies on a record like this, but Dio and Iron Maiden showed us for decades that classic heavy metal can still have memorable melodies that crowds will want to sing along with in concert. I don't hear any of that on this record.

I'm not going to be harsh on Lady Beast, because there's no need to. They aren't making music that is truly bad, or is a chore to listen to. There's been a lot of that this year, but that isn't what this is. Instead, Lady Beast is making music that pays too much attention to being traditional in sound, and not enough attention to writing the songs that started those traditions. This is one of those bland records that will be covered in dust not too long from now.

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