Friday, 26 April 2013


I first heard BEASTWARS a few years ago when I was practising with my old Wellington band The Postures. One night, we stopped for a break and from the room next door, instead of the usual crap covers band murdering ”Sweet Jane” we heard this mammoth riffage of the kind that makes one automatically throw the horns. Turns out these sludge/doom merchants were Beastwars, and we could immediately tell they were destined for great things. Over the next couple of years, once they finally started playing shows, the seeds of the songs that we had initially heard booming through the walls at the practise space turned into mighty doom metal anthems.

Beastwars' credo is simple: Obey The Riff. Throughout their second album, Blood Becomes Fire, that mantra resonates through every gargantuan chord, monolithic bass line, thunderous drumbeat and the truly monstrous vocals. You could say much the same of the band's eponymous 2011 record - everything that was great about that album is present here, only cranked up to 11! 

"Dune" opens the album with a wallop; those stunning riffs, sci-fi bend to the lyrics,  and some great interplay in the rhythm section of James Woods (bass) and Nato Hickey (drums). The thing that makes Beastwars such a kick-ass band is the way everything works together, with no wasted notes or unnecessary sonic detours. The songs move forward with an economy of purpose, and tend to finish where most other bands would proceed to play a riff to death. Matt Hyde's commanding roar is one of the most unique things about the band, and his range is diverse, with an almost bluesy turn on "Rivermen". 

Time, mortality and prophecy are predominant lyrical themes, like great metal albums before them (Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son springs to mind), all of which feature on "Tower Of Skulls". The bass-driven "Ruins" quickens the pace, before descending into a pile-driving mid-section. The title track opens with a riff and rhythms reminiscent of industrial sludge kings Godflesh, but moves into vastly different territory thanks a haunting performance from Hyde. "The Sleeper" closes the album in an epic way; guitarist Clayton Anderson's searing lead break is absolutely triumphant. 

Dale Cotton's hefty production avoids over-embellishment in favour of just capturing the band's performances at their finest. Like their first album, Beastwars have utilised the talents of Nick Keller to create some majestic gatefold album art, something which one can only really appreciate on the vinyl version of the album. I've only had the record for under a week, and already it seems destined for a long residency on my turntable. The good news  for those of us on the other side of the Tasman is that the band are making a trek over to Australia in May, after an album release tour of New Zealand. The dates are as follows:

May 10th – The Manning Bar, Sydney with Unida and Truckfighters
May 11th The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne with The Ruiner, Broozer and Batpiss
May 12th – The Hi Fi , Melbourne with Unida

Check out the video for "Tower Of Skulls" below, and listen to and purchase the album on the band's website or Bandcamp page.

Photo: David James

Saturday, 13 April 2013


BLACK BREATH - The Reverence Hotel, 11 April 2013

I've been a fan of the Seattle five-piece's d-beat/crust-infused death metal for a little while now, and they did not disappoint live. Black Breath's vibe is decidedly old-school - ceiling-scraping Marshall stacks, two bass drums, as well as the fact the band are bunch of hair farmers from way-back - and their delivery is polished as fuck. I have not seen a band this tight in a while, and the way they casually ripped through material from both of their full-lengths was breathtaking - by which I mean the singer had barely a moment to take a breath between onslaughts! Opener "Endless Corpse" from latest LP Sentenced To Life set the stage for what was to come, namely a flawlessly executed set. Their command of the classic Entombed buzzsaw guitar sound is a mighty thing on record, but the two guitarists took it to another level live: the result was some utterly crushing riffage, and the leads venture into the more melodic end of the spectrum, like those Swedish bands from back in the day. Vocalist Neil McAdams possesses a monstrous roar, and a great stage presence - though his voice seemed to be flagging a bit by the set's end, possibly because the guy has been giving it his all over their Australian tour, so it's not a critique, just an observation! And let's not forget the quality of the songs - "I Am Beyond", "Escape From Death", "Black Sin (Spit On The Cross)" - these guys have riffs with hooks, and in no way is that a bad thing! The drummer was on form throughout, alternating between rapid-fire blasts to the more mid-tempo material with aplomb. The band were clearly stoked to be here, and finished the night with a mighty version of "Wewhocannotbenamed' from Heavy Breathing. All in all, a great show. All hail the new wave of crusty death metal!



This blog has been inactive for a little while now, so I have taken it upon myself to restart it. Expect much more content! This time I mean it! \m/