Bedemon – “Child Of Darkness” RE-ISSUE (Relapse Records)
Simply timeless. Bedemon was a 1973 offshoot project of guitarist Randy Palmer and Pentagram members Bobby Liebling and Geof O’Keefe, along with Palmer’s friend Mike Matthews. Ironically, Palmer would join Pentagram around a year later only to leave soon after due to drug problems but rejoin as Pentagram’s own line-ups became increasingly erratic, ultimately leading to a split between Liebling and the rest of the band at the end of the 70s. Thereafter, Palmer resurrected Bedemon and began recording again, although what is truly bizarre is that these recordings were never meant to be released and were only shared amongst close friends: indeed, the name itself is a portmanteau of ‘Demon’ and ‘Behemoth’ – two earlier suggested names – that were prompted by Liebling to give Palmer’s project something of a name – and that’s as far as it went back then! However, as rumors of the recordings persisted and illegal bootlegs began to leak and surface throughout the 80s and 90s, the first official release of “Child Of Darkness” came about in 2005 from Black Widow Records who collected Bedemon’s demo quality tape recordings between 1973 -79 to finally serve them up. Listening to the 15 tracks herein its easy to see why they attract such cult status despite the raw uncut quality of the sound because its definitely a case of the riffs that Tony Iommi missed! Palmer was a hugely talented guitarist and composer, a doom meister general in his own right judging by the hallowed-be-thy-doom riffs hammering my ears on songs like ‘Enslaver Of Humanity‘, ‘Serpent Venom‘ and ‘Touch The Sky’. Beyond that though, Bedemon was no Sabbath clone, but also took its inspiration from the likes of Blue Cheer, along with other late 60s luminaries like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. As such the earlier recordings are very much rooted in this style occasionally throwing in some funky grooves along with psychedelic soloing into the unbelievable heaviness so its easy to see why Palmer considered his secret demon to be unreleasable – probably because it was simply too much for its time! Interestingly, Liebling’s vocals also show different phases in his style from his more commonly associated insane Ozzy wailing to lesser heard, softer, more articulate variations and a strong accented Virginian drawl, but all of which fit perfectly with Palmer’s composing and execution. Little wonder why the cult of Bedemon has prevailed over the decades as it really is music played by musicians from their own hearts and with no limits. To add the final twist, in 2002 Palmer reunited with Matthews and O’Keefe to record 9 new Bedemon songs. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident soon after. Nevertheless, Matthews and O’Keefe, along with new vocalist Craig Junghandel (whom Palmer had selected prior to his passing) would soldier on for the next 10 years to not only complete, but release the album “Symphony Of Shadows” in 2012. Beyond a testament to the enduring legacy of Randy Palmer’s vision, Bedemon is doom defined from one of the original purveyors of this style.