Friday Full-Length: Beast in the Field, World Ending

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Beast in the Field, World Ending (2010)

beast-in-the-field-world-ending

The greatest mistake Michigan’s Beast in the Field ever made was not having their slogan as ‘WE’RE BEAST IN THE FIELD. FUCK YOU.’ for the entirety of their career. Talk about a band on whom the entire planet basically whiffed. These guys should have been huge, should have been on whatever the last good-ass tour you saw was, should have had internet dinguses like me eating out the the palm of their hand. Instead, what’ve we got? Five albums, a split, a live record and the wind that still carries outward from that big swing and a miss on the part of everyone who should have appreciated what these two dudes were doing. We’re all complicit. Don’t try to deny it.

Beast in the Field was formed in Mount Pleasant/Midland, MI, in 2007. Guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr had played together in a band called And the Sky Went Red, and as bands like Black Cobra were at the time demonstrating just how much devastation a two-piece could really wreak, I guess they figured they had all they needed with the two of them. That would turn out to be largely true. They made their debut with 2007’s Goat Isle Seance and followed it with Lechuguilla in 2009, forming their approach around and increasing density of tone and blend of bombastic production, doomed riffing, and a strong current of noise that would come further to the fore on their later output. An early allegiance to Saw Her Ghost Records persisted throughout their tenure, as the also-Michigan-based imprint released all five of their LPs, their 2014 live outing, Astral Path to Satan’s Throne (discussed here), and a 2018 split with Hellmouth that was reportedly in the making before the band even broke up in 2016. Sometimes these things take a while.

Their first two albums are both shorter and plenty heavy, but with World EndingJahr and Pries really started to figure out who they were as a band. The record was a purposefully unmanageable 67 minutes long, and it was in noise-coated extended pieces like the eponymous “Beast in the Field” and the grueling 15:45 “Hallucinations from a Silver File,” as well as in the two nine-plus-minute cuts that followed to close out, “No Hope on Earth” and the head-smashing-into-wall “Your Gods Have Died” that they most effectively explored the dynamic between the two of them. On some level, they were a tone band. Pries‘ guitar took the fuzz aspect of stoner doom and turned it into something menacing and ferocious, lending a sense of threat to the core groove, and Jahr‘s drums, even in the rawest of production settings, were precisely the right kind of punctuation that heft needed to add punch to the assault. I won’t take away from the solo-tearing in “Burning Times” (also over nine minutes) or the more uptempo riff that leads the way into the deluge on opener “Invoke the King of Hell,” but there was just something about when Beast in the Field really dug into a longer-form track that made it all the more punishing.

And as much as punishment was clearly the intent, they didn’t neglect attention to detail in that. Even on the three-minute Sabbathian blastoff “Sermon of the Black Order,” they maintained the locked-in feel that was so prevalent when they stretched out over longer runtimes, and whether it was just a shift in the riff or a change from Jahr on drums, they had a way of making each tiny movement from one part to the next count all the more for the effect they had on the listener and on the piece itself. “Sermon of the Black Order” is a speedy and efficient summary of that, but it’s true of the entirety of World Ending as well, and to make an entirely instrumental record that’s more than an hour long where those moments still stand out is no small feat. It was what Beast in the Field were best at. On paper, there was nothing so landmark about their approach — “cool tone, bro” meets “heavy drums, bro” resulting in “cool album, dudes” — but the chemistry between the two players ran deeper and that’s what most comes to fruition on World Ending, in such a way as to make the album a standout for anyone who was willing to hear it.

It might actually be “Burning Times” that best emphasizes the point, but something else Beast in the Field seemed to be able to do at a moment’s notice was bring it all down. Not just throw in a quiet part, or cut to a standalone guitar, but to really give the impression that the song was falling apart, like, “oh shit, they’ve lost it and put it on the record anyway.” But they were never actually losing it, or at least not to such a degree that they didn’t right themselves and press on into whatever level of the abyss was next on their heading. World Ending was almost (conceptually) jazzy in that way and speaks to some measure of studio improv or happy accidents in their process, but whatever it was, it gave their material another aspect of volatility that carried through in the final result in a feedback-drenched way no less brash than the loudest of riffs surrounding on either side.

After World EndingBeast in the Field dug further into a “hail Satan” thematic with Lucifer, Bearer of Light in 2011 and, having pushed that apparently as far as they were willing to go, they switched to an earthier take on cosmic destruction with 2013’s The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below (review here), their studio swansong, and, I’ll gladly argue, apex, taking the best elements of the two prior long-players and twisting them to suit an environmentalist, anti-colonialist stance that was heightened by the visceral impact of their delivery. Beast in the Field did not fuck around. Whether you got to see them with their pyramid of cabinets behind them or you’ve never heard them before, they were a band who never, never, never got their due appreciation, and whose work seems all the more prescient in its chaos as the years pass by.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

It’s coming on 2AM in Belfast. I’ve been in Ireland all week. It’s been ups and downs. Mostly downs, if I’m honest, but that’s what meds are for.

The Slomatics guys were cool.

Okay.

Next week: packed. So packed I didn’t have room for a Roadsaw premiere, which is bullshit, but true all the same. I’m gonna be pissed about that forever, but what am I gonna do, ditch out on something I’ve committed to weeks or months in advance just because something else I dig is getting released that week? Hardly seems fair. Sucked when I got dicked over a couple weeks back, certainly.

Whatever.

We leave here tomorrow for I think Galway or Sligo, and are in each for a couple days. It’s supposed to rain, I think, forever. So that’s cool, as me and Toddler McScreamy are stuck plotzing through the latest sky-spit to wherever just because he can’t really be indoors at this point. It’s been a rough trip, on the whole. And I don’t think being on a bus all day tomorrow is going to help much either.

Did I mention “whatever?”

I did some perfunctory CD shopping in Dublin at Spin Dizzy Records. No one cares anymore. I mostly just feel sad.

This is my 11,500th post on this site. I think I’d get a cookie for that except I don’t eat cookies. “No juice for you, you just get more awful.”

Fuck it.

Great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, shirts.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , , , ,

audiObelisk: Stream Beast in the Field’s The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on June 5th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Last week, I put up a rather lengthy post extolling the virtues of The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below, the recently-released fifth album by Michigan bludgeon-your-brains-in instrumental guitar/drum duo Beast in the Field. That semi-review was, in itself, drawn from another about buying one of the band’s earlier records, and the most immediate response I got to it was, “Where can I hear it?”

A totally valid question in this age of hear-now-buy-now digital media, and I didn’t have an answer for it. Beast in the Field put out The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below on CD through Saw Her Ghost Records in March, but as I hadn’t seen much of anything in terms of streams or YouTube clips to spread around, it seemed a solid course of action to step up and see if the label would be kind enough to let me host the record for me to check out.

I consider myself lucky they said yes, since although I do plenty of streams around here, there are far fewer instances in which I’m directly reaching out and asking to host something strictly because I believe it deserves to be heard by as many ears as possible. Of course, if I don’t think something is worth checking out, I won’t cover it at all, but in the case of Beast in the Field‘s The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below, it’s something I stand behind recommending and I hope you give it the opportunity to cleave your skull with its jet-landing tonality and tectonic crashes, because contrary to what you might think from that image, you’re gonna frickin’ love it.

Enjoy The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below in its entirety:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Special thanks to Saw Her Ghost Records for the permission to host the stream. The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below is available now from them on CD, with a vinyl release coming soon via Emetic Records. Beast in the Field is Jordan Pries on guitar and Jamie Jahr on drums, and the album was recorded Oct. 19-20, 2012, produced by the band, Johnny Hiwatt and Tommy Schichtel with mixing by the latter two and engineering and tape operation by Schichtel.

Beast in the Field on Thee Facebooks

Saw Her Ghost Records

Emetic Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Buried Treasure: Beast in the Field and the Sacred Duality

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

So, funny story. Early last month, I picked up a copy of Michigan heavier-than-what-you-think-of-as-really-heavy duo Beast in the Field‘s second album, 2009’s Lechuguilla, with a few other assorted goodies, and as I’m wont to do, put up a post about it. In that post, I said I hoped it wouldn’t be too long before Beast in the Field had a follow-up out to their fourth album, 2011’s Lucifer, Bearer of Light.

You can see where this is going. Turns out that just weeks before, Beast in the Field had released The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below on Saw Her Ghost Records. If I had taken two seconds and hit up the band’s Thee Facebooks page, I would’ve probably seen that the record was out and been able to include that information, but actually, I remember putting that first post together and barely being able to keep my eyes open, so yeah. Sometimes what seems like it would’ve been really easy in hindsight is super-fucking-difficult at the time.

Needless to say, an order was promptly placed for The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below — like, the same day — and I’ve been having my brains bashed in by its 71 minutes of tectonic crush ever since. Guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr seem to have transitioned out of the Satanic themes that drove their last outing into a more nature-minded sphere, though the music itself on the album’s nine tracks shows little of the Americana influence that one might expect as a result. No more than one could read into it before, anyway.

Rather, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below continues Beast in the Field‘s aural dominance in a manner so astoundingly fucking heavy that whatever ideas they want to put to it, I’m on board. Specifically this time, the artwork and song titles like, “Great Watcher of the Sky,” “Wakan Tanka” and “The Great Spirit of Light” abound with a Native American sensibility, as only the briefest moments of respite peak through the duo’s onslaught. Seriously, Jahr‘s snare drum is heavier sounding than most bands, and whether it’s on a shorter track like “Wakan Tanka” (5:24) or the propulsive subsequent basher “There Once Were Mountains of Ice,” Beast in the Field retain their brutal sensibility all the way to and through the 22:19 album apex of “Oncoming Avalanche.”

It’s nothing if not aptly named, enacting a massive build with hypnotic riff repetition and pounding kick drum at its center while Jahr and Pries march forward subtly toward a satisfyingly planetary crumbling. They could’ve put “Oncoming Avalanche” out as an EP easily, but here, it’s part of an overwhelming mash of riff punishment, seeing the chaos of the earlier “Hollow Horn” and the frenetic sway of “Altar Made of Red Earth” come to fruition across a vast plain of threatening chugging that gets torn apart to feedback as the guitars move out ahead of the drums backed by what sounds like and may or may not be a tower of amplifiers, pushing enough air out of the low end as they hit their noisy apex (after the slowdown; we’re talking 17-minutes in) to make the 12-minute title-track that follows seem like an afterthought.

Take that as an indication of the sort of largesse Beast in the Field are working with — that as “The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below” gets underway with Pries‘ guitar playing a riff that in most contexts would still bend knees the wrong way, the 11:15 that ensue, a bluesy lead fleshing out the midsection, feel like epilogue. If it seems like I’m overemphasizing how unbelievably fucking heavy The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below is, it’s for the simple reason that I think more people should know who Beast in the Field are than currently do. No question the album is long at 71 minutes — the 9:14 “Covered by Clouds, Eaten by Snakes” follows the title cut — but it works in the band’s favor at least on the CD version to let the listener get lost in the pummel only to be jarred out of it here and there by what’s essentially more pummel from a different angle.

Complete with liner notes putting a narrative thread to the course of the tracks, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below is one of the most satisfying listens I’ve had this year, and I couldn’t have been gladder to have been alerted to its existence. I try to make outright recommendations sparingly, as little as possible, but with the Dead Man atmospherics of “Covered by Clouds Eaten by Snakes” and all the bludgeoning severity preceding, Beast in the Field more than earn it: Recommended.

Beast in the Field, “Hollow Horn,” “Altar Made of Red Earth” & “Wakan Tanka” Live, Sept. 30, 2012

Beast in the Field on Thee Facebooks

Saw Her Ghost Records

Tags: , , , , ,