Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Child Of Darkness

Released 2005 on Black Widow
Reviewed by achuma, 16/02/2006ce

Attention all lovers of Black Sabbath and Pentagram – this is your lucky day! For this CD contains truly flaming shit-hot stuff that will surely ignite your ears and ass if that’s your kind of thing. (And how could it not be? And I don’t mean the ear- & ass-burning, by the way, not literally at least... but if you’re literally into that too, well, that’s fine...)

Bedemon were a band-that-was-not-really-a-band, who co-existed with Pentagram and shared some of the same members. They formed in 1973 as an outlet for the music of guitarist and songwriter Randy Palmer, who occasionally played with Pentagram and was a good friend of Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling, along with drummer/guitarist Geof O’Keefe (both from high school days), another Pentagram player and the other main lynch-pin of Bedemon. This was rounded out by bassist Mike Matthews, and occasionally Liebling would also contribute vocals and the odd bit of guitar or bass. The thing is, though, Bedemon only existed to record for their own enjoyment and to get the songs down on tape (generally just after having learned them in the previous half-hour or so), and never played gigs nor sought out any kind of inroads to greater exposure beyond their own circle of friends. They didn’t even have a name for some time, and the name ‘Bedemon’ grew out of an amalgamation of Behemoth and Demon, following Palmer’s indecision over what to call his thing, prodded on by Liebling to come up with something other than ‘Randy’s project’.
The recordings which they made during their 70’s existence (1973-79) are all collected here on this CD, and were all demo-quality tape recordings. Nevertheless, the quality of the music far outweighs any aural shortcomings in the recordings. This stuff first became more widely known (though still extremely obscure overall) when, at some time perhaps in the 90’s, Palmer gave copies of the tapes to a Pentagram fan for his own enjoyment. This guy – who is scum, as you’re about to learn, and a pretty strange kind of ‘fan’ – went on to put together low-quality bootlegs of the music, which he sold (and still sells) on the internet, along with Bedemon t-shirts and other merchandise. Avoid this stuff like the plague and buy only this legitimate Black Widow release. He’s never given any of his profits from these bootleg goods to any of the Bedemon guys, and even when Palmer asked him for a few copies of the CD’s, he was only sent one. Seeing that there was clearly a market for Bedemon music, though (which Palmer had previously thought unlikely), and wishing to give the genuine fans a better and legitimate package that would make the crappy bootlegs obsolete, the Bedemon guys got together again in late 2001 to record some new music (to be released soon) and also to put together this CD. The old tapes were painstakingly restored and remastered to get them sounding as good as possible, but unfortunately Palmer was killed in a car crash before it was all completed, and didn’t get to see it released in his lifetime.
So, to the music... This is one of those things where it’s fairly pointless to go track-by-track. Basically the disc is full of music in a similar vein – that is, very heavy, doomy and raw Sabbatherian sludge metal with riffs to crack open the skies. Occasionally they sound a bit like the more eclectic Pentagram, but on the whole this is more monolithic and Sabbath-influenced, although not really derivative of Sabbath. It’s high-quality stuff throughout, and it’s clear that if these guys had the opportunity to record a proper album in a proper studio, with a sympathetic producer, they could have come out with something mindblowing. But hey, that kind of implies that this CD is not exactly mindblowing, which is not what I mean at all. Hopefully you get my point.
This CD also comes with a thick booklet that is packed full of info – band history, detailed notes on the recordings, lyrics and photos, as well as epitaphs to Randy Palmer from those who knew and loved him the most. The cover artwork, featuring an innocent-looking scared little girl standing in some volcanic fields of hell, and subtly casting a demon shadow, was put together based on a rough concept sketch that Palmer had done before his untimely death. It’s all a great-value package and if the above sounds like your cup of tea, then you can’t go wrong by buying this CD at the first available opportunity.

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