Grand Belial’s Key is arguably one of the most controversial bands in the American black metal underground, and although I don’t agree with their (supposed) socio-political beliefs, I will always support their right to express them. It’s called the 1st Amendment, something we’ve lost sight of in both the United States and the metal underground at large, in favor of a “you can say whatever you want, as long as the moral majority says it’s okay” approach. Bullshit disclaimers and pro free-speech rhetoric aside, the band’s second album, Judeobeast Assassination, is USBM’s finest hour, a damn near perfect, unapologetically ultra-politically incorrect slab of black metal that sounds as dangerous and extreme today as it did when I heard it almost a decade ago (has it really been that long?!).
I’ll be the first to admit that I originally became interested in Grand Belial’s Key because of their reputation. If a good chunk of the so-called “extreme” metal underground, an underground that openly accepts lyrics depicting misogyny, rape, murder and Satanism (among other things), considers a band taboo, well, that’s basically the same as begging me to check out a band’s music. I bought Judeobeast Assassination not really knowing what to expect and was instantly hooked by GBK’s two-pronged attack of thoroughly evil-sounding vocals and guitar-work coupled with infectious songwriting. Front to back, the album still ranks as one of the most compositionally sound collections of metal songs I’ve ever heard, from the bulldozing opener “The Tenderhearted’s Manifesto” to the strangely psychedelic “Fecal Parturition” to the crushing “Satanicunt.” From a song-writing standpoint, the album is utterly unfuckwithable, instantly setting them apart from the (mostly) unsophisticated black metal that was coming out of the US at the time.
Production-wise, Judeobeast Assassination is dirty as all hell, yet clear enough to allow each instrument to breath and be heard. It has a great garagey, almost punk rock vibe to it, (as does the drumming of The Black Lourde of Crucifiction) as well as a sonic heft that’s uncharacteristic of black metal. The performance of guitarist Gelal Necrosodomy, who also does time in Arghoslent, is absolutely fucking flawless for the album’s duration and deserves special attention. The guy is a goddamn riff machine and one of the most underrated guitarists in all of black metal, or metal in general. For someone such as myself, who’s always been more interested in riffing and composition than pointless shredding or technicality for technicality’s sake, Judeobeast Assassination is like a smorgasbord.
The album’s lyrics are a no-holds-barred assault on both Christianity and Judaism, rife with such gems as “Christ, faggot, fondler of manhood” and “The yeasty froth of her pussy lips / covered the tenderhearted / never could the six point star be trusted / damnable heresies survive the epoch,” as well as references to ZOG and the burning of synagogues by “hordes of true black metal arsonists,” making Judeobeast Assassination an album that’s decidedly not for the easily offended. The ultra-abrasive lyrical content is reinforced by depictions of both Christ and The Virgin Mary in corpse paint. It’s no wonder the band has been banned and boycotted throughout their career, as they have repeatedly pushed their right to express themselves beyond even the limits of underground acceptability. Some would say that this is the ultimate fulfillment (or perhaps the illogical conclusion) of the black metal philosophy originally put forth by the Norwegians.
As black metal fans, we are often forced to divorce ourselves from our opinions of the actions and words of the artists involved (see Varg Vikernes, Rob Darken, etc) and focus strictly on the art itself. Judeobeast Assassination is a black metal album that begs the question “where does one draw the line?”, which ultimately makes it a fascinating and challenging listen from both a philosophical and moral perspective, as much as it does from a musical one. If you are able to accept the fact that there is content here that will challenge and most likely offend you on some level, the same as you would when watching a film like Irreversible or Antichrist, or viewing Serrano’s Piss Christ, there can be no denying that Judeobeast Assassination is some the the most elite black metal ever committed to tape.