Review: “Conjourments” by King Baal

Somewhere between Doom, Symphonic and simply Heavy Metal, King Baal hail from Portugal with a very personal approach to metal, blending powerful and intense patterns with occasional dreamy musical landscapes. The quartet comprises vocalist Joana Carvalho alongside guitarist and vocalist Narciso Monteiro bassist João Amorim and drummer Luis Moreira, a rich lineup with members that have played and recorded with bands like Heylel, Nihility, Sotz and Lyfordeath. Their debut album together was produced and mastered by The Devil Himself at Interstellar Cloud with artwork and Photos by João Fitas and is inspired by King Solomon’s writings. Intriguingly the bands name refers to one King Lord, the Master of Puppets from the Old Testament.

As you might expect given the background of King Baal, “Psuedomonarchia Daemonum” has a certain choral and almost etheral quality to it as it builds, gradually adding fretboard magic with a expertly executed lead riff. The percussive work borders in jazz fusion in places as as the band paint a lush soundscape with their opening instrumental. “The Grand Judgement” builds on those foundations with mournful synths before the track really starts. The contrast between Carvalho’s almost operatic clean vocals and Monteiro’s savage uncleans pays of nicely even if Carvalho struggles with her pitching in places, perhaps due to nerves. Monteiro’s spoken word parts add atmosphere with storytelling masterful. Despite the more Traditional Metal sound, there are Power Metal themes with hints of influence from the likes of Iron Maiden underneath it all. Carvalho’s vocals improve in “Fragments” and her spoken word elements on it make the track alongside haunting synth moments which build the darkness with sweeping atmospheres and tempestuous notes. By the time “Immortality” approaches Monteiro’s uncleans have begun to sound distinctly like the demon on the shoulder in contrast to the angelic moments of his counterpart and the rich Persian inspired synth adds some depth of flavour to something that actually borders on the progressive in places. The lyrics are those of a tortured soul interweaved with King Solomon’s writings and against a less lush soundscape would sound very out of place, there is a certain weight and gravity to them that signifies their meaning.

A second instrumental in “Solomon’s Arrival” takes similar Arabian inspired themes and has a cinematic quality, while perhaps being slightly over long. It lacks the big virtuoso solo that you might have expected with the duration but is nice enough. A longer unclean vocal passage during “Let’s Murder Together” lifts it from an Alternative Rock platform that initially makes it seem a little meak and mild despite some lead guitar flare as it lacks a bit of punch, that being fairly ironic given the lyrical tale of two lovers murdering together. Fortunately, “Touched By The Kiss of Lucifer” brings back the gallop and drive as well as those buried electronics, strangely absent from its predecessor. The vocals are best when intertwined and the beauty and beast stylings of the earlier tracks return with this one as the evil energy flows through their veins incendiary fashion. “Geradiel” brings forth some funky moments as both vocalists speak with distortions over Jazz fusion percussive moments on a song that leaps sun-genres in multiple single bounds, with some Black Metal before the end. The joy of “Conjourments” is in its subtleties and warmth, those nuanced moments which are easily missed distracted listening [7/10]

Track listing

  1. Psuedomonarchia Daemonum
  2. The Grand Judgement
  3. Fragments
  4. Immortality
  5. Solomon’s Arrival
  6. Let’s Murder Together
  7. Touched By The Kiss of Lucifer
  8. Geradiel

Conjourments” by King Baal is out 29th January 2021 via WormHoleDeath Records

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