Bedemon

Symphony of Shadows

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Released in 2012, Symphony of Shadows is a labor of love on the part of drummer Geof O'Keefe and bassist Mike Matthews, marking the tenth anniversary of Bedemon founder and guitarist Randy Palmer's death in an automobile accident. At the time, the old high-school friends were already busy unearthing Bedemon's long lost 1970s rehearsal recordings for release as Child of Darkness, a decision no doubt spurred on by renewed public interest in their other part-time underground band, Pentagram, this one led by notorious drug fiend Bobby Liebling, whose haunting vocals, as it happens, also graced Bedemon's ancient demos. But, after successfully honoring their fallen friend and wiping the vaults clean, O'Keefe and Matthews decided to take things one step further by finishing off Palmer's remaining latter-day homemade demos, drafting in vocalist Craig Junghandel to sing them (Liebling having enough on his plate with the successfully resurrected Pentagram), and Symphony of Shadows is the result. How ironic, then, that the new vocalist's contributions should -- in tandem with the professional production that those old demos lacked for obvious reasons -- make this new material sound, well, not like Bedemon. After all, this was never Liebling's band, but Palmer's, yet such is the power of a singer's personal imprint upon any music -- just ask Tony Iommi. Having said that, strip away all of the mixed-up expectations associated with Bedemon's complicated history, and Symphony of Shadows ultimately rewards listeners with an altogether high-grade doom selection, as evidenced by enticing new offerings such as "Lord of Desolation," "D.E.D.," and "Eternally Unhuman." Other offerings, like the standout "Son of Darkness," walk a fine line between doom's psych-infused early-'70s routine and its heavier '80s iteration (think Trouble, the Obsessed, Saint Vitus, etc.), and if it is indeed Palmer's six-string handiwork spread across the nine-minute, organ-enhanced "Hopeless" (O'Keefe being a competent guitarist in his own right), then its sublime guitar solo coda alone easily justifies this project's existence. If justification were needed, of course, since the spirit of loving tribute behind Symphony of Shadows' creation should more than suffice for even the most cynical of consumers. R.I.P. Mr. Palmer.

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