Dan Brooklyn – The Great Beast
Dan Brooklyn is a Netherlands-based musician who has taken a stroll through the life and mind of one of the more controversial figures in history, Aleister Crowley. With his cohort from Athanasia, Caleb Bingham, he’s taken Crowley’s life and put it to music. Hailed a free-thinker and demonized as a heathen, Crowley was heralded as the epitome of a Satanist in some circles and celebrated as a prophet in others. The Great Beast explores this from a contemporary viewpoint, looking through the lens of history. This journey should not be taken lightly; instead, prepare to look critically and suspend any disbelief you may have. You might learn a thing or two.
- Dan Brooklyn – Vocals/Drums/Lyrics
- Caleb Bingham – Guitars/Bass/Keyboards/Backing Vocals
December 1, 2022
- 93 (The Dawn Of An Enigma)
- Boleskine House
- The Power Of Darkness Is More Than Just A Superstition
- The Midnight Flower Unfurled
- The Equinox Of The Gods
- Droppings From The Host Of Heaven
- The Great Beast
- The Most Powerful Being In The World
- Chamber Of Nightmares
- Scattered Through The Galaxy Like Grains Of Sand
- Liber XLIV (The Mass Of The Phoenix)
- The Poet
- Mr. Crowley
This album gives you the creeps from the start, and I like that about it. “93 (The Dawn Of An Enigma)” has that ability due to a few things… the ominous chant throughout, the discordant drums, the eerie whispers, and the random series of numbers and letters. I don’t know what they mean, but I feel like they’re important, so it kind of haunts me. This is a concept about Aleister Crowley; it should be (and really is) quite creepy. This is such a beautiful way to start it off.
I looked up the Wikipedia page for the namesake of “Boleskine House,” and the legend is pretty cool. Especially some of the latter history with Jimmy Page as owner. The spoken word in this track, which also appears throughout the album, adds depth and context to the whole project. Using keyboards for ominous tones helps build tension and drama for the music and lyrics alike. The guitars are suitably heavy, and the drums are outstanding.
The next track, “The Power Of Darkness Is More Than Just A Superstition,” is a 29-second clip of old audio that leads into “The Midnight Flower Unfurled.” Using historic audio from Crowley’s life ties this whole concept together nicely. The vocals throughout this album are a killer blend of harsh growls, whispers, and layers of backing vocals and chants/vocalizations that really up the creep factor. The backing voices on this one are haunting and ethereal simultaneously.
“Equinox Of The Gods” has an incredible guitar riff over the same vocalizations, tying the story together and becoming a theme that permeates the whole record. It’s a solid musical theory piece, showing the skill of songwriting. This is helped by excellent musicianship, further setting this project apart from many in the past. This is no novice trying to branch out and capitalize on their previous work. This is a well-thought-out project from start to finish. The research was done, care was taken, and heart was poured in.
I love how “Droppings From The Host Of Heaven” leads into “The Great Beast” and is used as part of the lyrics for the new song. It ties the story together, helping illustrate the points made with the new lyrics. Musically, “The Great Beast” is a mix of Nu, Heavy, and Power Metal with some Progressive Metal thrown in for good measure. The guitars are killer, and the bass/drum combo slays. The modulated snare/hi-hat with the faster bass drum, matched by the bass, drives the song well, giving it a well-paced groove.
Eight seconds of historical context lead into the “Chamber Of Nightmares,” another haunting melody with spoken word and harsh blended together to advance the tale, the legend of Aleister Crowley. I must repeat, the keyboards are the star of this album. I’m a huge fan of guitar work and a drum lover, but the keys do so much work on this disc. They set the whole tone for how the music feels. You hear them, but more than that, you feel them. They hover, haunting the background and raising the hair on the back of your neck.
“Liber XLIV (The Mass Of The Phoenix)” has odds sound effects to increase the track’s tension. The haunted chorale in the background steps up its’ game, driving the eeriness to new heights. The tuning of the guitars is epic, heavy, and dark. This whole album portrays Crowley as more of a misunderstood icon than a villain, which is a more accurate telling of history. Visionaries are often vilified by the mainstream. It has always been this way and is not changing, even now.
Wrapping this epic tale up is a cover of the Ozzy Osbourne classic, “Mr. Crowley.” It is lovingly done in a heavy, brutal way while honoring the original. Again, the vocalizations add so much texture to this song. The guitar solos are close to the Randy Rhoads style, staying true to one of the best pieces of guitar work in metal. I love this version. A lot. There is something remarkable about a song being this different but this accurate that really pleases my old-school sensibility.
Dan Brooklyn has created something spectacular here. He takes a fresh look at a piece of history through a modern, more factually accurate lens. We all know or have at least heard of the legend of Aleister Crowley, but few have likely dug into the truth behind the labels thrust upon him by the society he challenged intellectually. There was so much more to the man than just a dabble with the occult. His mind was complex and grew as he traveled and learned more by studying unorthodox theories and theologies.
History has been kinder to the man than his contemporaries were. The mania that surrounded him was fueled more by fear than fact. The world sometimes needs a bogeyman, and Crowley served as that for many years. Here. It’s like a minor vindication, though he is not around to hear about it. I hope any relatives he might have alive today get wind of this and feel better, knowing his truth is out there.
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 10
- Overall – 10.0