Each Friday, Editors Ted Nubel and Jon Rosenthal [usually] will share their picks for Records of the Week—not necessarily what's out this week, just whatever's on our mind or on our record players.


Ted Nubel


Symphony of Shadows

This record is fairly similar in its origin story to the Iron Claw one I wrote about a few weeks back - a 'comeback' from a band that arguably never had arrived in the first place. There's a lot of parallels, but Bedemon's history is perhaps even more fragmented. Formed in 1973, the band was a side project of then-Pentagram members Bobby Liebling, Randy Palmer, and Geof O'Keefe, joined by Mike Matthews, and never released a record in their heyday - which was, like, a year, with some erratic activity in the years following. I guess it stands to reason that a side project of Pentagram, an already unstable band, would be even tougher to keep together.

Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes landed in 2005, pulled from unreleased tapes from many, many recording sessions and polished off with some guitar overdubs by Geof. I came across it in 2008 and was simply enthralled - in addition to being amazing classic doom metal, the rough production (due to poor equipment, as I recall) fostered a love for distorted and imperfect metal that had a huge impact on my taste in extreme metal going forward. Unfortunately, Palmer had passed away in 2002, so any sort of resurgence seemed unlikely.

Never say never, though: in 2012, Symphony of Shadows was released, and I eagerly purchased the MP3s on Amazon Music, or whatever that was called then. I was, honestly, disappointed: it really didn't sound that much like classic Bedemon, and at that point I was simply enthralled with that early, raw sound. This didn't stop me from catching Bedemon's one-and-only live performance in 2015 at Psycho California, though, with a lineup pulling in new folks (including Wino on vocals) to make it happen.

Many of my then-criticisms don't really hold up anymore. Detached from that compilation, Symphony of Shadows is a fantastically bizarre doom album with progressive elements that put it closer to something like Lucifer Was or Witchcraft than early Bedemon's mix of proto-doom and compelling hard rock. Vocalist Craig Junghandel doesn't sound like Liebling, sure, but he also doesn't seem like a total jackass, so it's not a bad trade. Junghandel instills a sense of demented urgency, which plays well into the themes of mental illness and paranoia that envelop Symphony of Shadows. There's some really corny moments, but sometimes they just work, like the catchily looping intro of "D.E.D." or the spoken intro to "Hopeless": "The answer is so clear…" In fact, if there's any track on this record that makes me wish we'd see more Bedemon material, it's that one - the second half is goosebumps-raising stuff.

There and on the rest of the album, the guitar work hews a lot closer to early Bedemon than college-aged-me gave it credit for. O'Keefe and Matthews have a knack for crafting powerful solos and some really creative riffs. I feel that this could benefit from a remaster, actually: a lot of what gives Child of Darkness's riffs their potency is that crunchy, overdriven distortion that wasn't even intentional - unfortunately I feel like the production on this record is, while much clearer, not that impactful. Even so, it's a fun and nostalgic chapter in the long and unusual history of Bedemon that's well worth a listen.



And, just to make this technically two records, here's the original compilation.


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