Back when I was attending my first higher education institution, the resident Punk Club (SMOKE BEER!!) used to book killer metal acts for shows every once in a while when the in-campus black metal band wasn’t up to destroying everyone’s eardrums. All of the shows were great times, but the time Black Pyramid came by was something else. I had heard their debut self-titled LP before they stopped by, and I was roundly impressed by the unique sound of theirs that they called “galloping war metal,” an incredibly appropriate descriptor. Mixing the monstrous fuzz of Dopesmoker-era Sleep or mid-period Electric Wizard, the skull-splitting axe-in-head heaviness of High On Fire, and the quasi-medieval riffage of The Sword, the album was an excellent piece of modern doom metal and became a constant fixture on the playlists I used to soundtrack the games of Dungeons and Dragons I ran every Saturday afternoon. Black Pyramid live, however, was even more merciless. The band was so heavy, so catchy, so destructive, and so loud that it took several minutes for us to notice that the building’s fire alarm was going off. If that’s not an indicator of a good-ass show, then I don’t know what is. The band instantly shot up to the top of my list of artists to watch, as they did for many other fans of stoner/doom metal, and we all awaited their next release with bated breath and uncontrollable anticipation.
However, the release of Black Pyramid II almost didn’t happen. Vocalist/guitarist Andy Beresky abruptly left the band – and music as a whole, sadly – at the end of recording sessions in 2011, placing the future of the record (not to mention the band) in jeopardy. They’ve since picked up a new guitarist/vocalist in Darryl Shepard of instrumental stoner metal group Hackman, but judging from Beresky’s epic contributions on this release, he will certainly be missed. While their first album was an excellent debut by all accounts, Black Pyramid II ups the ante to another level of awesome. The opening duo of “Endless Agony” and “Mercy’s Bane” both gallop fiercer and faster than any cut off the previous album; their epic riffs, catchy choruses, and cavalry-charging momentum almost bring the classic works of Iron Maiden to mind.* Most other songs on the album follow the same template, but doomheads ought not despair – with “Dreams of the Dead” and the majestic 15+ minute closer “Into The Dawn,” Black Pyramid prove that they can still bring the thunder in larger doses than before without wearing out their welcome. This record is a necessary addition to your next game of D&D, Warhammer (in both Fantasy and 40k flavor), or generally anything that involves lots of angry dudes with axes charging each other and chopping shit up. So quake and fear, mortals, for the new Black Pyramid is upon us at last. Hopes that this monstrosity would never have seen the light of day are all but dead, trampled beneath the relentless hooves of their galloping war metal. This record slays, in the way that only Conan can.
*If Maiden smoked a couple pounds of weed per day, natch.