I jumped at the chance when I was asked to review Beholder’s new album and follow up to their stonking debut in 2010, The Awakening. The band, to me, are a perfect example of what hard work, grit, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness can achieve. They never seem to stop. If they’re not touring, they’re writing, if they’re not writing then they’re promoting. Each of these guys eat, sleep and live Beholder and the end result is a second album that will undoubtedly help solidify their position as a bastion of modern British metal and attitude.
A seething, pounding, aggressive, introduction by way of Black Flag sets us up beautifully and draws us into the album. There’s anger dripping off of every riff and every word Simon Hall utters throughout as he declares the order of chaos is now! This anger continues to simmer and gather pace into Profit of the Lie as Beholder’s attack switches from politicians to the media, replete with some meaty guitar and drum work.
I mentioned at the start of the review about Beholder’s attitude and it’s worn as a badge of honour in Here I Stand. The track has some pretty evil melodies running through it backed by some great old-school styled chorus work. When Hall shouts defiantly “Don’t you ever forget I Am Stronger Than YOU” you can picture the big guy standing tall, middle fingers raised in one big FUCK YOU salute!
I’ve not really drawn any comparisons to other bands so far but it’s interesting listening to Splinter, whose video was recently released (check it out below), as I’m actually finding myself drawn to Judas Priest and Testament. The guitar licks in places are very much akin to Testament whereas Hall’s mannerisms in his vocals on this track put me in mind of Halford. It’s another beast of a track that batters and bludgeons you into submission.
While we’re on comparisons too, as we head into the atmospheric and theatrical Tale of Eleanor Grey, I’m reminded a lot of Slipknot and in particular Vermilion from their Subliminal Verses album. It’s a great ghost story told with some haunting acoustic parts, some grinding melodic riffage and Hall enjoying his position as chief storyteller. Have to say that this one gave me goosebumps, especially when Eleanor put in an appearance throughout the track.
Killing Machine brings the first half of the album to a close as Beholder throw open the throttle proper for the first time, bringing us a track that’s full of controlled brutality and is guaranteed to produce one helluva sweaty pit live. Morphine Serenity is a huge contrast from this, it’s dark, heavy, pounding, atmospheric and weighs you down. There’s a feeling of utter helplessness in its approach, a despair that rings throughout and one that also gives the band a chance to stretch their creative muscles and produce something very different from anything.
Liar is probably my favourite track on the album. Its melodies and groove-tinged riffs hit all the right notes for me plus it has one helluva killer singalong chorus. Toxic Nation likes to keep you on your toes off the back of this, darting to and from riff to riff, time to time, you’re never quite sure which direction it’s going to go and is a perfect example of Beholder’s ability to craft something unique and unexpected.
Out of Ashes signals the beginning of the end of this album with a melancholic acoustic lament that brings on a feeling of hopelessness before anger takes over with Footprints introducing middle eastern influenced melodies. It’s huge and outdone only by final track, This Blackened Earth, which is an even bigger progressive number. It’s one helluva ballsy way to finish the album in this manner, but then again, this IS Beholder. Would you expect anything less?
Sometimes people are far too quick to pigeon-hole bands and categorise them as this style or that. Beholder throws the rulebook at these kinds with great glee and reckless abandon. Call them what you will. To me they are metal, pure and simple, although The Order of Chaos is anything but that. A fitting follow up to Beholder’s debut album.
The Order of Chaos is out on Feb 1st via Razorline Records and currently available to order from beholder.bigcartel.com
1. Black Flag
2. Profit of the Lie
3. Here I Stand
5. The Tale of Eleanor Grey
6. Killing Machine
7. Morphine Serenity
9. Toxic Nation
10. Out of Ashes
12. This Blackened Earth
Simon Hall – Vocals
Martyn Blackwell – Guitars
Scott Taylor – Guitars
Simon Fielding – Bass
Chris Bentley – Drums