Iron Maiden. DragonForce. Black fucking Sabbath. Great Britain has turned out some great metal bands. Ferret Music signees and “Dirty South, United Kingdom” residents Eternal Lord, however, are not among such elite. The group’s new album, the laughably titled Blessed Be This Nightmare, cycles through the metal/hardcore playbook quickly and efficiently. But as a listening experience, it’s a total death march, melodramatic yet ultimately tame.
Admittedly, Eternal Lord has some decent musical ideas; like any metal band, they are technically adept. Tunes like “Get to Fuck” and “I, the Deceiver” cycle through riffs and pounding double kick drums well enough. Guitarists Shaun Zerebecki and Chris Gregory show a solid range, mixing their chugging with some sweet harmonics and the occasional ambient part. If nothing else, Blessed Be This Nightmare is 38 minutes of adequately skull splitting, fairly face melting metal.
But the band is also entirely forgettable. There are countless metal/technical hardcore bands out there running the same plays, and better too. But more importantly, where the band really fails is in the lyrical department.
I gravitate towards intelligible singing. Operatic vocals in metal are A-OK with me, but what I really love is someone who yells with righteous fury but still manages to sound like a human being. Eternal Lord frontman Edward Butcher goes for the Marlboro-loving-grizzly-bear-masturbating-with-a-chainsaw sound, and it’s the kind of vocal approach that sounds demonic initially and then too much like a novelty after a while. It’s grating, yet also kitschy. Given the Org’s roots in punk and hardcore, I hope I’m not stretching too far in attempting to compare Butcher to, say, Henry Rollins or Ian MacKaye.
When I spin a record like Black Flag’s My War or Fugazi’s 13 Songs, I am met with a force far greater than anything Butcher can conjure. The fury that emanates from “My War” or “Waiting Room” is an all-encompassing energy, transcendent yet very much tethered to a human form. Because while these men express power in a brilliant way, their vocals still sound like they are coming from a human being. It is this quality, coupled with thought provoking lyrics, which makes such works so compelling. So while Butcher’s voice might sound “heavier” to some, to me it simply sounds cartoonish. I would much rather listen to someone like Rollins, who sounds like a pissed off man with (and this is important) something to say.
Ultimately, Eternal Lord is trying twice as hard to be half as good as a Metallica or a Strike Anywhere or a Minor Threat. This music does not move me in any possible way, whether musically, lyrically, or even ironically.