Black Pyramid – Black Pyramid – 5/5
Do you crave Black Sabbath’s hook-laden old-school doom riffs? Are you a fan of Electric Wizard’s slow, grinding sludge? Do you covet the raw stoner riffage of Kyuss that sounds like it was recorded in the middle of the desert using a mondo generator? Then this is the album for you! Heralding from Massachusetts, Black Pyramid combines elements of all three aforementioned bands on this ambitious debut album, resulting in a colossal barrage of stoner/doom. Eastern sounds are also incorporated, in a more subtle and tasteful manner than Nile achieved, adding even greater depth to the weighty atmosphere that Black Pyramid have created.
Andy Beresky, the chief songwriter, lead guitarist and vocalist, is clearly the driving force behind the band. He sounds like Ozzy with a bad throat…in a good way. His deeper, coarser voice provides more of an edge than the cleaner vocals that are typical of doom: These would sound too thin if partnered with the leaden riffage of Black Pyramid. Although lyrics about the occult are very predictable in doom, the songs are well written and follow a continuous theme. Andy Beresky’s guitar playing takes noticeable influence from early Sabbath. This is especially prominent on the bluesy intro to ‘The Worm Ouroboros’. There is no filler here. If you think doom is supposed to be slow, this proves otherwise. Crushing riff after crushing riff slams your head to the kerb and stomps you into submission. A thick and fuzzy guitar tone, typical of stoner/doom, is used throughout. At the halfway point, an acoustic interlude, ‘Celephais’, is well placed to break up the album and keep the listener interested, not that there is any danger of becoming bored. While it’s the leads that make this album special, the bass and percussion are not hidden away. The bass is very audible and is crucial in the construction of Black Pyramid’s hefty grooves. The mid-paced drumming is delivered by Clay Neely, formerly of southern rockers Artimus Pyledriver.
Despite making an instant impression, this is very definitely an album that has grown on me with every listen, unlike other more generic doom that has ultimately become buried deep beneath the classics in my collection. My only problem with this album is that it is Black Pyramid’s only album. Unfortunately they split-up last month, after Andy Beresky quit. The only consolation is the release of a compilation of six great songs from demos and splits. That this is the best stoner/doom release of 2009 is not up for debate. It easily makes my top ten all-time favourites. Although there is nothing particularly original or groundbreaking here, had it been released during doom’s heyday it would surely be considered amongst the classics.