01. Endless Agony
02. Mercy's Bane
03. Night Queen
04. Dreams of the Dead
05. Tanelorn
06. Sons of Chaos
07. Empty-handed Insurrection
08. The Hidden Kingdom
09. Into the Dawn

RATING: 8/10

With all the rumble of a tank column and a whole lot of smoke billowing locomotive power, BLACK PYRAMID's "II" should sit well with fans of HIGH ON FIRE and MASTODON on the one hand and the doom-decided on the other. That other hand reveals the mammoth and tasty riffs of vocalist Andy Beresky who one could assume has an affinity for a range of traditional dooms metallers whether BLACK SABBATH and CANDLEMASS or THE GATES OF SLUMBER (early and later versions) and SLEEP. The trio also features the not inconsequential talents of drummer Clay Neely and bassist Gein who bring as much thunder to the equation as they do Butler/Ward big-balls swing. As the same ole story goes about separating the one-step-behind imitators from the juiced up and surging flag wavers, the Massachusetts trio pulls it all together with some finely tuned songwriting abilities.

With weighted bottom and enormo-guitar in tow, BLACK PYRAMID kicks out the hard jams with their accurately self-described "galloping war metal" and do so with a gritty sense of melody, as is well represented by songs like "Endless Agony", the HIGH ON FIRE mid-tempo crush of "Mercy's Bane", and a song that stomps like CATHEDRAL at its most powerful called "Night Queen". Most surprisingly however is that the album's catchiest chorus is found on a 12-minute box of rumble titled "Dreams of the Dead", the last seven minutes of which carry the listener on instrumental wings of steel, including one section that vaguely reminds of METALLICA's "Orion" dues to both bass line and six-string picking. It's a song worth remembering on several levels.

An acoustic interlude ("Tanelorn") and another HOF earth mover ("The Hidden Kingdom") join "Sons of Chaos" — with its strangely alluring ascending/descending riff — and three-minute instrumental tough-nut "Empty-Handed Insurrection" to collectively set the stage for the final death blow. Said blow comes in the form of 15-minute doom epic "Into the Dawn" that engrosses with such completion that time is stopped dead in its tracks. The lightly synth-esized background serves to sweeten a nicely composted melody line lodged right in the meaty part of those final minutes of trance-like glide. It all makes "II" seem far too simple to capture the full weight of BLACK PYRAMID's sophomore full-length. Good stuff we'll call it.


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