Review Summary: If I were Bobby Liebling, I’d check my stash of forgotten songs from the early Pentagram days…
…because if it isn’t there, the guys from Brimstone Coven probably have it. And it’s not because the West Virginia based quartet are ripping off the sound of one the biggest “what ifs” in the history of rock music. Stating that Brimstone Coven is a derivative of x or y would simply be an injustice as Black Magic
possesses one element that is often missing from modern revival albums; it doesn’t feel forced. From the songwriting, to the production and the guitar tone most of the LP sounds genuinely vintage.
From the very beginning of the album, one can guess that these guys have done their homework in terms of studying what made the forefathers of heavy metal so successful. Catchy riffs, hazy atmosphere, vocal harmonies that create a sense of melody and mysticism, tasty solos and lyrics about the occult. If we want to classify Brimstone Coven under one tag, that would be heavy rock, rather than stoner or doom. There are similarities to classic acts like Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Dust or Sir Lord Baltimore with a hint of The Doors in their more psychedelic moments, such as on the adventurous “Beyond the Astral”.
Nevertheless, Black Magic
isn’t all about positives as its biggest flaw is its inconsistency. Most of the strong material is gathered in the first half, which leads to the assumption that a different allocation of songs would result in a more even experience. For example, “The Plague” followed by “Forsaken” is not a good choice as both songs are slow, hypnotic and more importantly a bit weak, which impacts negatively album closer “The Eldest Tree”. In addition, the band doesn’t seem ready to write its “Planet Caravan” yet, as the weakest songs of the album are admittedly the slowest ones.
All things considered, as flawed as Black Magic
is, at the same time it’s a great experience. Songs like “Slow Death”, “Black Unicorn”, the heavy “The Seers”, “Beyond the Astral” or the title track, make up for the album’s inefficiencies which are mostly due to a lack of guidance. The talent is definitely there, so all Brimstone Coven need to do for their next release, is work on the track order, write better ballads and trim some of their songs, and we might be talking about one of the better retro rock bands out there.