Written by Kep
Beleth – Silent Genesis
Death/groove metal from Australia
Releasing June 25, 2021
During the death metal renaissance that’s been happening over the last couple of years it feels like a few other related styles have all but fallen by the wayside. Groove metal is one of these, with releases hitting here and there but all being overshadowed by a particularly strong stretch for the big brother subgenre. Maybe that’s due to a lack of notable new blood, or the fact that the titans of groove metal are all in their senior years in the scene now: Sepultura is pushing 40, Machine Head is in year 30, Lamb of God is comfortably over 20 and DevilDriver is nearing that number too, and of course Pantera has been gone for a long time. But maybe we as listeners just aren’t turning our ears in the right direction to catch up-and-coming acts either. Enter Beleth, formed mid-pandemic in 2020 and hoping to bring your attention back to groove.
Beleth is a two-man project hailing from Queensland, and Silent Genesis is their debut release. Their lineup is what I like to call Anaal Nathrakh-style: multi-instrumentalist Chris Long covers all instruments, while Sebasthian Bentos-Pereira handles lyrics and vocals. The two seem to be in sync as far as composition goes; the vocals fit well with what Long lays down in the instruments and don’t feel tacked on after the fact. Bentos-Pereira also happens to be one of those vocalists who favors a roaring growl that’s quite intelligible, so it’s easy to follow the lyrics without a written sheet. His sound is deep and throaty and reminds me a bit of Gord Olson of Darkened, but with less gravity. There are riffs here and there that lean in the death metal direction, but it’s the vocals that are the most obvious component pulled from that world.
So is Silent Genesis the album to get us all jazzed about groove metal again? The results are a mixed bag. The album consists of 8 tracks, including an intro and outro, and a total runtime of only 29 minutes. Lead single “Silent Genesis” is a standout—the intro/chorus riff is solid, but the verse riff is just a ton of fun to jam out to.
Long’s performance on the drums is respectable, carrying the songs with energy and drive, but I wouldn’t call it exciting. His style is accurate and straightforward, featuring very few fills and precious little syncopation or other rhythmic play. As for the riffs, there are a ton here that will make you want to bang your head, riding hard eight-note based grooves that are as unfussy as they come; think of a very down-to-earth version of The Last Kind Words-era DevilDriver. Third track ”Cries of the Fatherless” kicks off with one of these really nice riffs that features a few fun turns and a chugging home base; it’s the kind of thing you hear in your head later in the day over and over. Beleth’s goal isn’t to blow your mind with technicality or experimentation; they’re hitting you with meaty guitars and a complimentary bottom end that keep your ears comfortable. Unfortunately, therein lies a sticking point for me: too often a familiar, groovy-as-hell riff wears out its welcome because it’s not expanded on or altered.
An issue that stood out to me from my first listen is the similar feel of all the songs. Not counting intro “Thirteenth Spirit” and closing instrumental/ambient “Denouement”, five of the six main tracks are essentially in the same tempo and meter: each one is between 160 and 170bpm and in 4/4, and in addition to that they all use straight eighth or sixteenth rhythms, with nary a triplet to be found on the entire album. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t matter when you’re listening to a single, but as a package it’s conspicuous and makes the songs all wash together. Too many tracks feel like they’re in need of something to make them stand out; they’re one special moment or next level solo away from really kicking ass. One of the strongest tracks on the record is “Black Speech”, because it breaks the tempo mold and starts off with a heavy stomper of a riff, later changes tempos, and near the end lets the guitar solo and add variety in a pseudo-ad-lib style to the riff that makes up the last chunk of the song.
I’d also love to hear these guys go further with changes in sound from section to section, with things like tempo shifts and differently-shaped riffs. For example, I really like the opening to “First Born”, with its expansive tremolo-picked melody, and the breakneck pace of the main section is exciting, but the song gets even more interesting at 2:30 when they pull back to half tempo and open up a guitar solo. These sorts of shifts make for dramatic moments that you remember later, and I wish there were more.
The thing I enjoyed most about Beleth’s debut, outside of bobbing my head to groovy riffs, was hearing the potential across every song. Silent Genesis is a solid listen, not a memorable one, but the band is close to finding a winning formula. For a debut release, and a full-length at that with no demo or EP preceding it, this is a very respectable effort, but I’m more excited to see what comes next for Beleth.
Favorite track: Cries of the Fatherless
Who’s the flog doing the reviews? Doesn’t seem like he’s listened to the album in it’s entirety.