Beastwars, IV: Searching for the Light in Your Time of Dying

Posted in Reviews on June 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

beastwars iv

Beastwars were done after their third album, The Death of All Things (review here), in 2016. The Wellington, New Zealand, four-piece issued that as the final installment of a trilogy following 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire (review here) and a 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and thereby rounded out an unfuckwithable course run over a five years that seemed to take them too soon. They were there, they were epic, they were gone. It wasn’t until vocalist Matt Hyde, whose guttural sneer is second to none, in sludge or otherwise, underwent cancer treatment in 2017 that the prospect of a fourth long-player — whether an epilogue or a new beginning, I don’t know — was broached. From the always-stunning Nick Keller artwork through the massive crunching groove that rolls through “This Mortal Decay” courtesy of returning guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods and drummer Nathan “Nato” Hickey, the eight-song/37-minute IV is very much a Beastwars album.

Its impact is hued from heavy and noise rocks, brought to bear with a progressive metal sense of grandeur particularly in lead lines like that of “Storms of Mars,” “This Mortal Decay,” “Omens” and “Sound of the Grave,” and its rhythmic plunder is still sludge despite a coherence of purpose both rare for the genre and consistent throughout Beastwars‘ studio work. More perhaps than anything they’ve done before, IV centers around the context of its making and the lyrical processing borne out from Hyde‘s confronting his mortality in a very real way before eventually entering remission, as opener “Raise the Sword,” “Wolves and Prey” and “Storms of Mars” would seem to couch personal experience in metaphor, but in truth, they’re pretty up front about what’s happening in them, as the lines in the leadoff go, “Breathe long/Breathe wise/Don’t fall/Raise the sword.” Maybe without knowing the situation around which the album came together, one might just think it’s a story about a battle on a hillside or something, but once one knows what’s really going on, the relation of what Hyde went through existentially and literally is fairly direct. Beastwars have never been a band to shirk confrontation.

Each side of IV begins with its longest track (double points), as “Raise the Sword” and “Omens” set the stage for their respective halves of the tracklisting, the former with its unmitigated largesse and the latter with a broader range that continues to play out across the subsequent pieces. Throughout, Beastwars‘ efficiency of songwriting and hard-hit pummel is well intact, as Hickey shows early on in his snare battery and Woods in the punch of chugging bass that coincides. The initial salvo very much establishes Beastwars‘ core approach, with a sampled speech from 1985’s The Quiet Earth included in the 6:40 “Raise the Sword” for maximum dramatic effect ahead of a feedback-soaked transition into the apex and the faster and immediate push of “Wolves and Prey.” Tense in the guitar and bass and as powerful as the band have ever sounded in the complete affect, the second track rolls out relatively quick but is still well in line atmospherically with “Raise the Sword” before it, and the same applies to “Storms of Mars” after, with its slower, nod-ready pace and punctuating drums behind Hyde‘s maddening snarl, an almost punkish thrust taking hold at around 2:45 to signal the shift into a cacophony as pure as anything I’ve ever heard from them, Anderson‘s guitar cutting through with a moment-of-clarity solo even as the track readies to cut out all the instruments behind the lines, “You can never get away/From your mortal decay.”

beastwars

Short of setting a treatment diary to verse, I’m not sure how much more direct IV could be in its subject matter. It does not make for easy listening — particularly if you’ve ever dealt with or dealt with a loved one in similar circumstances, which I think counts basically everybody on the planet — but the directness extends to IV‘s overarching purpose of expression as well, a very real catharsis playing out amid all this tumult and questioning. I don’t know what the deal was with Beastwars‘ breakup following The Death of All Things — seems fair to speculate they knew it was coming at least on some level, given that title — but they obviously came back together united around a purpose, and IV manifests that palpably for the listener.

Perhaps all the more so in its final four tracks, as “Omens” indeed proves to foreshadow a wider sonic reach with highlight guitar work and a fierce emotionality that will soon enough come to fruition on the raw highlight of the penultimate “The Traveller” after the bass-led turmoil of “Sound of the Grave” unfolds in a three-and-a-half-minute linear build that comes on in brooding fashion and ends up in a wash of noise. Unlike “Omens,” which retains a subtle hook throughout its 5:41, “Sound of the Grave” feels more about the tooth-pull/gut-punch resonance that stays heavy even when the band reels back for a final shove heading into the last minute. A sudden stop brings on “The Traveller,” which is gorgeous and flayed with far back vocals over atmospheric guitar at its start and building forward from there also in a linear way, but with an infusion of avant guitar melody and lyrics from Hyde that seem to evoke an out-of-body experience, blessing travelers and homes and, ultimately “…this world that we all must leave.” In a universe of many kinds of heavy, I don’t think there is one meaning of the word to which that doesn’t apply.

Still, it’s not until the piano starts in “Like Dried Blood” that one fully realizes just how far Beastwars have taken the thread since “Wolves and Prey,” and as the finale plays out over its 4:40, it is more culmination than summation, but still righteously weighted in its last movement, using the crush that the band have always so ably wielded for maximum emphasis before cutting with a quick jolt of feedback and amp noise — a cold end that feels no less intentional than every bit of facing death that’s happened before. I won’t profess to know if Beastwars‘ reunion/reignition is an ongoing thing — if they’ll do a fifth record or what — but IV doesn’t strike me as having such considerations. That is, certainly Hyde and company have plenty to say, but these songs are more about their own urgency than about longterm band plans. It’s not a record they made to go on tour with. It’s a record they made because life is fucking precious and sometimes you come to realize what matters to you and what you need are the same thing. As such, it is all the more essential it be engaged in the present. Because it is.

Beastwars, IV (2019)

Beastwars on Thee Facebooks

Beastwars on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Beastwars to Release IV June 28; Lyric Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

beastwars

I didn’t expect another Beastwars record after their third, The Death of All Things (review here), seemed to come accompanied by a contentious breakup. But obviously situations change and after a cancer scare on the part of vocalist Matt Hyde, the devastating New Zealand sludge rockers are back with IV in June, and they’re streaming a lyric video for one of the tracks now. Those familiar with the four-piece’s prior work will be glad (and perhaps terrified) to hear their sense of unmitigated sonic largesse remains undiminished, and as one gets ready to dig into the album, it’s fully with the expectation of being crushed from multiple angles.

“Omens,” of course, bodes well in that regard.

This from the PR wire:

beastwars iv

BEASTWARS RETURN: New Zealand Heavyweights Revisit The Riff with New Album | Release Video for ‘Omens’ Single

New album chronicles vocalist Matt Hyde’s battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – “The fear of death is enough to make you want to live”

Beastwars’ IV is released 28th June 2019 on Destroy Records

Pre-order the album Big Cartel / Bandcamp

Returning in 2019 with what will undoubtedly become one of this year’s most revelatory releases, IV, the fourth installment in Beastwars’ canon is life affirming in more ways than one.

So heavy and heavily admired around the world, New Zealand’s legendary metallers are back this June with a new lease of life – quite literally – following vocalist Matt Hyde’s recovery from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. After undergoing six months of treatment in 2016 he is now in remission and today the band announces their long-awaited return, along with the release of their first single in three years, ‘Omens’.

Shaped by Hyde’s recent experiences through his diagnosis and subsequent treatment, he was given an opportunity to look into the abyss, beyond life as we know it. “Throughout the treatment I was numb,” he explains. “It’s interesting to have the ability to confront that, to confront the void, to confront the idea of mortality. I didn’t make peace with it either.”

The experience and loneliness in isolation of treatment gave Hyde plenty to consider. Life, friendships and relationships, especially with his then ten-year-old daughter resulted in a record that leaves nothing unsaid. “I was lucky that I had music to express what had happened to me,” Hyde says. “A lot of people don’t have that. I was very lucky that we could make a record. I took the time to process it and turned it into something else.”

In 2011, Beastwars released their self-titled debut to critical acclaim and in doing so transformed New Zealand’s metal landscape forever. Reviewers celebrated the album’s, slow-burning blend of lysergic and premonitory metal and compared the band to Kyuss, Neurosis and Godflesh, while hinting at influences as diverse as The Jesus Lizard, Black Sabbath, and in Hyde’s ‘avant-grunt’, Celtic Frost.

Two years on from their internationally acclaimed debut, Beastwars returned in 2013 with Blood Becomes Fire, delivering ten songs that retained the strength and psychedelic power of their first while presenting a kinetic evolution in vision. Closing the post-apocalyptic trilogy, 2016’s The Death Of All Things signalled the long overdue arrival of one of metal’s best-kept secrets, out from under and ready to take on the world full tilt.

To celebrate the band’s fearless return to the fold, Beastwars will tour New Zealand and Australia in June/July (see below) and perform at the Dead of Winter Festival in Brisbane.

IV, the new album from Beastwars will be released on Friday 28th June 2019 and can be pre-ordered on limited edition vinyl, cassette, CD at http://www.beastwars.bigcartel.com. It will also be available across all digital stores and streaming platforms at http://ffm.to/beastwarsIV.

IV ALBUM RELEASE TOUR
With special guest Witchskull (AUS)
28/6 – San Fran Wellington
29/6 – Galatos – Auckland
5/7 – Blue Smoke – Christchurch*
6/7 – The Cook – Dunedin*
11/7 – Crowbar – Sydney (w. Potion)
12/7 – The Gershwin Room – Melbourne (w. Dr. Colossus + Droid)
13/7 – Dead of Winter Festival – Brisbane*
*Dates without Witchskull

TRACK LISTING:
1. Raise the Sword
2. Wolves and Prey
3. Storms of Mars
4. This Mortal Decay
5. Omens
6. Sound of the Grave
7. The Traveller
8. Like Dried Blood

BEASTWARS:
Clayton Anderson – Guitar
Nathan Hickey – Drums
Matt Hyde – Vocals
James Woods – Bass

Produced by Beastwars and James Goldsmith
Recorded by James Goldsmith at The Blue Barn, Wellington, NZ
Mixed by Andrew Schneider at Acre Sound, New York, USA
Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, Portland, USA
Artwork by Nick Keller (www.nickkellerart.com)

https://www.facebook.com/beastwars666/
https://beastwars.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/beastwarsband
https://www.instagram.com/beastwarsband/
http://www.obeytheriff.com

Beastwars, “Omens” lyric video

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Stuck in Motion, AVER, Massa, Alastor, Seid, Moab, Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Into Orbit, Super Thief, Absent

Posted in Reviews on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Let the games begin! The rules are the same: 10 albums per day, this time for a total of 60 between today and next Monday. It’s the Quarterly Review. Think of it like a breakfast buffet with an unending supply of pancakes except the pancakes are riffs and there’s only one dude cooking them and he’s really tired all the time and complains, complains, complains. Maybe not the best analogy. Still, it’s gonna be a ton of stuff, but there are some very, very cool records included, so please keep your eyes and your mind open for what’s coming, because you might find something here you really dig. If not, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion

stuck in motion self-titled

The classic style cover art of Swedish trio Stuck in Motion‘s self-titled debut tells much of the story. It’s sweet-toned vintage-style soul rock, informed by Graveyard to some degree, but more aligned to retroism. The songs are bluesy and natural and not especially long, but have vibe for weeks, as demonstrated on the six-minute longest-track “Dreams of Flying,” or the flute-laden closer “Eken.” What the picture doesn’t tell you is the heavy use of clavinet in the band’s sound and just how much the vintage electric piano adds to what songs like “Slingrar” with its ultra-fluid shifts in tempo, or the sax-drenched penultimate cut “Orientalisk.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Max Kinnbo, drummer Gustaf Björkman and bassist/vocalist/clavinetist Adrian Norén, Stuck in Motion‘s debut successfully basks in a mellow psychedelic blues atmosphere and shows a patience for songwriting that bodes remarkably well. It should not be overlooked because you think you’re tired of vintage-style rock.

Stuck in Motion on Thee Facebooks

Stuck in Motion on Bandcamp

 

AVER, Orbis Majora

aver orbis majora

Following up their 2015 sophomore outing, Nadir (review here), which led to them getting picked up by Ripple Music, Australia’s AVER return with the progressive shove of Orbis Majora, five songs in 50 minutes of thoughtfully composed heavy progadelica, and while it’s not all so serious — closer “Hemp Fandango” well earns its title via a shuffling stonerly groove — opener “Feeding the Sun” and the subsequent “Disorder” set a mood of careful craftsmanship in longform pieces. The album’s peak might be in the 13-minute “Unanswered Prayers,” which culls together an extended linear build that’s equal parts immersive and gorgeous, but the rest of the album hardly lacks for depth or clarity of purpose. An underlying message from the Sydney four-piece would seem to be that they’re going to continue growing, even after more than a decade, because it’s not so much that they’re feeling their way toward their sound, but willfully pushing themselves to refine those parameters.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Massa, Walls

massa walls

Flourish of keys adds nuance to Massa‘s moody, heavy post-rock style, the Rotterdam-based trio bringing an atmosphere to their second EP, Walls, across five tracks and 26 minutes marked by periodic samples from cinema and a sense of scope that seems to be born of an experimental impulse but not presented as the experiment itself. That is, they take the “let’s try this!” impulse and make a song out of it, as the chunky rhythm of instrumental centerpiece “Expedition” or the melodies in the prior “#8” show. Before finishing with the crash-into-push of the relatively brief “Intermassa,” the eight-minute “The Federal” complements winding guitar with organ to affect an engaging spirit somewhere between classic and futurist heavy, with the drums holding together proceedings that would seem to convey all the chaos of that temporal paradox. Perhaps it was opener “Shiva” that set this creator/destroyer tone, but either way, Massa bask in it and find a grim sense of identity thereby.

Massa on Thee Facebooks

Massa on Bandcamp

 

Alastor, Slave to the Grave

alastor slave to the grave

The first full-length from Swedish doomplodders Alastor and their debut on RidingEasy Records, late 2018’s Slave to the Grave is the four-piece’s most expansive offering yet in sonic scope as well as runtime. Following the 2017 EPs Blood on Satan’s Claw (review here) and Black Magic (review here), the seven-song/56-minute offering holds true to the murk-toned cultism and dense low-end rumble of the prior offerings, but the melodic resonance and sense of updating the aesthetic of traditional doom is palpable throughout the roller “Your Lives are Worthless,” while the later acoustic-led “Gone” speaks to a folkish influence that suits them surprisingly well given the heft that surrounds. They make an obvious focal point of 17-minute closer “Spider of My Love,” which though they’ve worked in longer forms before, is easily the grandest accomplishment they’ve yet unfurled. One might easily say the same applies to Slave to the Grave as a whole. Those who miss The Wounded Kings should take particular note of their trajectory.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Seid, Weltschmerz, Baby!

seid-weltschmerz_baby-web

If Norwegian space-psych outfit Seid are feeling weary of the world, the way they show it in Weltschmerz, Baby! is by simply leaving it behind, substituting for reality a cosmic starscape of effects and synth, the odd sample and vaguely Hawkwindian etherealism. The centerpiece title-track is a banger along those lines, a swell of rhythmic intensity born out of the finale of the prior “Satan i Blodet” and the mellow, flowing “Trollmannens Hytte” before that, but the highlight might be the subsequent “Coyoteman,” which drifts into dream-prog led by echoing layers of guitar and eventually given over to a fading strain of noise that “Moloch vs. Gud” picks up with percussive purpose and flows directly into the closer “Mir (Drogarna Börjar Värka),” rife with ’70s astro-bounce and a long fadeout that’s less about the record ending and more about leaving the galaxy behind. Starting out at a decent clip with “Haukøye,” Weltschmerz, Baby! is all about the journey and a trip well worth taking.

Seid on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records website

 

Moab, Trough

moab trough

A good record tinged by the tragic loss of drummer Erik Herzog during the recording and finished by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes, the 10-track/39-minute Trough demonstrates completely just how much Moab have been underrated since their 2011 debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here), and across the 2014 follow-up, Billow (review here), as they bring a West Coast noise-infused pulse to heavy rock drive on “All Automatons” and meet an enduring punker spirit face first with “Medieval Moan,” all the while presenting a clear head for songcraft amid deep-running tones and melodies. “The Will is Weak” makes perhaps the greatest impact in terms of heft, but heft is by no means all Moab have to offer. With the very real possibility this will be their final record, it is a worthy homage to their fallen comrade and a showcase of their strengths that’s bound someday to get the attention it deserves whenever some clever label decides to reissue it as a lost classic.

Moab on Thee Facebooks

Moab on Bandcamp

 

Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split

primitive man unearthly trance split

Well of course it’s a massive wash of doomed and hate-filled noise! What were you expecting, sunshine and puppies? Colorado’s Primitive Man and Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance team up to compare misanthropic bona fides across seven tracks of blistering extremity that do Relapse Records proud. Starting with the collaborative intro “Merging,” the onslaught truly commences with Primitive Man’s 10-minute “Naked” and sinks into an abyss with the instrumental noisefest “Love Under Will,” which gradually makes its way into a swell of abrasive drone. Unearthly Trance, meanwhile, proffer immediate destructiveness with the churning “Mechanism Error” and make “Triumph” dark enough to live up to its most malevolent interpretations, while “Reverse the Day” makes me wonder what people who heard Godflesh in the ’80s must’ve thought of it and the six-minute finishing move “418” answers back to Primitive Man‘s droned-out anti-structure with a consuming void of fuckall depth. It’s like the two bands cut open their veins and recorded the disaffection that spilled out.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Into Orbit, Shifter

Into Orbit Shifter

Progressive New Zealander two-piece Into OrbitPaul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums — offer up the single Shifter as the answer to their 2017 sophomore long-player, Unearthing. The Wellington instrumentalists did likewise leading into that album with a single that later showed up as part of a broader tracklist, so it may be that they’ve got another release already in the works, but either way, the 5:50 standalone track finds them dug into a full band sound with layered or looped guitar standing tall over the mid-paced drumming, affecting an emotion-driven atmosphere as much as the cerebral nature of its craft. Beginning with a thick chug, it works into more melodic spaciousness as it heads toward and through its midsection, lead guitar kicking in with harmony lines joining soon after as the two-piece build back up to a bigger finish. Whatever their plans, Into Orbit make it clear that just because something is prog doesn’t mean it needs to be staid or lack expressiveness.

Into Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Into Orbit on Bandcamp

 

Super Thief, Eating Alone in My Car

super thief eating alone in my car

Noise-punk intensity pervades Eating Alone in My Car, the not-quite-not-an-LP from Austin four-piece Super Thief. They call it an album, and that’s good enough for me, especially since at about 20 minutes there isn’t much more I’d ask of the thing that it doesn’t deliver, whether it’s the furious out-of-mindness of minute-long highlight “Woodchipper” or the poli-sci critique of that sandwiches the offering with opener “Gone Country” immediately taking a nihilist anti-stance while closer “You Play it Like a Joke but I Know You Really Mean It” — which consumes nearly half the total runtime at 9:32 — seems to run up the walls unable to stick to the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” point of view of the earlier cut. That’s how the bastards keep you running in circles, but at least Super Thief know where to direct the frustration. “Six Months Blind” and the title-track have a more personal take, but are still worth a read lyrically as much as a listen, as the rhythm of the words only adds to the striking personality of the material.

Super Thief on Thee Facebooks

Learning Curve Records website

 

Absent, Towards the Void

absent towards the void

Recorded in 2016, released on CD in 2018 and snagged by Cursed Tongue Records for a vinyl pressing, Absent‘s Towards the Void casts a shimmering plunge of cavernous doom, with swirling post-Electric Wizard guitar and echoing vocals adding to the spaciousness of its four component tracks as the Brasilia-based trio conjure atmospheric breadth to go along with their weighted lurch in opener “Ophidian Womb.” With tracks arranged shortest to longest between eight and a half and 11 minutes, “Semen Prayer,” “Funeral Sun” and “Urine” follow suit from the opener in terms of overall approach, but “Funeral Sun” speeds things up for a stretch while “Urine” lures the listener downward with a subdued opening leading to more filth-caked distortion and degenerate noise, capping with feedback because at that point what the hell matters anyway? Little question in listening why this one’s been making the rounds for over a year now. It will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

Absent on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beastwars Post “Some Sell Their Souls” Video; Albums Available as Name-Your-Price Download

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

beastwars

So is this it? Is this the last we’ll hear from New Zealand crushers Beastwars? Is this their goodbye? As they and their group-therapy audience seem to get raptured at the end of this clip for “Some Sell Their Souls” — I’d have said “spoiler alert,” but we all know the joy is in the journey, not the destination — should we also consider that the actual process of the four-piece being absorbed into oblivion?

If so, they die as they lived — viciously underrated.

Beastwars released their final album, The Death of all Things (review here), last year. At the time, they called it the third in a trilogy behind 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire (review here) and their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but the bottom line was the band was basically announcing they were done, one way or the other. Their tenure ended with their never having gotten their due internationally for the quality of their output across those three records, and though they drew well in their native New Zealand and Australia, to my knowledge they never made it to Europe for a tour, let alone North America, much to the loss of both continents.

I’ve learned the hard way — also the easy way — over time that you never say never in rock and roll. That is, because Beastwars are done today doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the case in a year, three years, five. It might be wishful thinking on my part, but though we see in the clip for “Some Sell Their Souls” the lineup of vocalist Matt Hyde, guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods and drummer Nathan Hickey be taken from this earthly plane as the PR wire seems to confirm that, indeed, that’s a wrap for them, it just seems like this band had something special to them, and they knew it. That can’t be easy to walk away from, say it’s permanent, and have it stick.

But I’ve also learned the hard way to never assume one way or the other. What we have to go on right now, in April 2017, is that after three stellar, grueling, grinding, and at times genuinely uncomfortable albums, Beastwars have called it a day. Whether or not that lasts, it should go without saying they’ll be missed, and should they ever decide to embark on a fourth installment of their “trilogy,” its arrival will be welcome.

To mark their passing, Beastwars have made their three full-lengths available as a name-your-price download via their Bandcamp page from now until April 20. If there’s one of those records you don’t have, you might want to get on that.

Enjoy “Some Sell Their Souls” below:

Beastwars, “Some Sell Their Souls” official video

Having returned in 2016 with one of the year’s most revelatory releases in The Death Of All Things, Beastwars are back one final time with a new video directed by Alistair MacDonald for ‘Some Sell Their Souls’.

The song, sung from the perspective of a troubled singer at a small suburban church who is trapped by his demons and plagued by memories proved to be one of the most talked about songs on last year’s album. Attributed in no small part to singer Matt Hyde’s weathered and worn viewpoint on morality and redemption.

“Like ‘Witches’, the first video off our last album, it was inspired by experiences of the band,” explains drummer Nathan Hickey. “In the case of ‘Witches’ it was in response to a record label exec shrieking, ‘They’re so old!’ when he saw a video of us. So we decided to replace ourselves with a coven of female musicians. The video for ‘Some Sell Their Souls’ was inspired by a set of studio videos we did called The Sundae Sessions, where the audience was sitting around us on chairs. Some of the YouTube comments are hilarious with complaints about how sedate the crowd look, why isn’t there a mosh pit etc. With this video we took the audience response to a Beastwars experience to its extreme.”

The album, produced by the band and James Goldsmith in their hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, mixed by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Big Business) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Windhand) brought with it the closing chapter in the band’s post-apocalyptic trilogy of albums.

As a thank you for the continued support Beastwars received in 2016, their unremitting triptych of sludge – their 2011 debut Beastwars, 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire and last year’s The Death Of All Things – are being offered on Bandcamp as ‘Name Your Price’ up until 20th April 2017 – www.beastwars.bandcamp.com.

Beastwars:
Clayton Anderson – Guitar
Nathan Hickey – Drums
Matt Hyde – Vocals
James Woods – Bass

Beastwars on Thee Facebooks

Beastwars on Twitter

Beastwars on Bandcamp

Beastwars website

Tags: , , , , ,

Lamp of the Universe to Release Hidden Knowledge in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The fact that New Zealand tantric psych outfit Lamp of the Universe has returned to activity can really only make the cosmos a better place. Peopled solely by Craig Williamson, the ever-fluid and at this point long-running project released its latest album, The Inner Light of Revelation (review here), just last year through Clostridium Records and Williamson‘s own Astral Projection imprint, and both band and label have confirmed that a follow-up, titled Hidden Knowledge, is due out in October on limited-run vinyl, black, in color or splatter with a gatefold. No doubt well earned.

What I find particularly encouraging about the prospect of this new offering from Lamp of the Universe is that it’s made up only of four songs — “Space Craft,” “Mu,” “Dawn of Nebula” and “Netherworlds.” I don’t know how long each cut might be, but Williamson‘s done long-form work with Lamp of the Universe before — not so much on The Inner Light of Revelation, but a 2013 split with Krautzone (streamed here) consisted of a single, 22-minute Lamp of the Universe track, and the results were meditative and gorgeous in kind. If a similar exploratory feel were to be brought to Hidden Knowledge, well, I don’t think we’d lose out either way, but it’s certainly enough to add a layer of interest.

No audio from the album yet, sadly. The announcement came out a bit ago, so apologies for being behind the times on this one, but I wanted to make sure the info was posted here, if only as a reminder to myself to look forward to it.

Preliminaries go like this:

lamp of the universe hidden knowledge

Lamp of the Universe – Hidden Knowledge.

Release date October 2016. Clostridium Records. Artwork by Dale Simpson.

500 numbered copies
* 200 x black / 200 x col. & 100 x Splatter *
Gatefoldcover……
more info soon…

Tracklisting:
1. Space Craft
2. Mu
3. Dawn of Nebula
4. Netherworlds

https://www.facebook.com/lampoftheuniverse/
https://lampoftheuniverse.bandcamp.com/
http://www.clostridiumrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/clostridiumrecords/

Lamp of the Universe, The Inner Light of Revelation (2016)

Tags: , , , , ,

Beastwars, The Death of all Things: Totality

Posted in Reviews on May 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

beastwars the death of all things

Much has been made the last several weeks about the possibility that Beastwars‘ third full-length, the recently-issued The Death of all Things, will be their last. Fair enough. The Wellington four-piece have referred to it as the final installment of a trilogy that also includes 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire (review here) and their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and if the nine tracks/40 minutes included on The Death of all Things are really the end of the band, I don’t think anyone could argue with the quality of their output during their tenure, the impact they had or the progression they demonstrated from one album to the next. If this is it, in other words, they’ve been a success. All three of their records, further united by stellar oil painting artwork by Nick Keller, have worked in a blend of grand-scale heavy, derived from sludge and ’90s-style noise rock dissonance, but indebted to neither and growing only more individual in presentation as songwriting takes root in brooding atmospheres.

The Death of all Things might be their best work yet in terms of how the material itself stands out. An opening salvo of “Call to the Mountain” and “Devils of Last Night” — also the album’s two longest tracks at 5:36 and 5:31, respectively (immediate, double points) — leads to the likewise fortified “Some Sell Their Souls,” giving a kinetic beginning to what unfolds from there as a record that owes no more of its overarching affect to impact than to mood. Underlying complexity has long been a factor for Beastwars, glossed over in part because they’re so outwardly heavy, so if The Death of all Things is to be their last outing, it’s all the more appropriate that should be the case here too.

Frontman Matt Hyde (not to be confused with the L.A.-based producer) leads the returning lineup of guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods and drummer Nathan Hickey, and his snarling, rasping, growling, howling, grunting approach continues to be a defining factor no less than Anderson‘s rolling riffs, the heft in Woods‘ low end or Hickey‘s snare cutting through to punctuate the morass. Andrew Schneider, who mixed, makes his impact felt there, while James Goldsmith, who produced, keeps the focus rightly on the largesse in the band’s sound.

beastwars (photo by Damian McDonnell)

“Call to the Mountain” and “Devils of Last Night,” both seething with intensity, gripping in their catchiness and marked in their cloud-cover bleak vibe, set the tone for what’s to come, the latter capping with a move into an all-out payoff that seems to answer some of the tension created, but the chorus of “Some Sell Their Souls” becomes even more of a landmark for the early going of The Death of all Things, shorter but also more patient than “Devils of Last Night” and setting up a transition into the more subdued, melodic beginning of “Witches.” That initial impact — starting with “Call to the Mountain,” a condensed-epic very much in Beastwars‘ stylistic wheelhouse — is no coincidence, but neither is the shift that “Some Sell Their Souls” begins into the broader territory that “Witches” continues to cover. Even as “Witches” hits its apex, Hyde and Anderson pushing a surge of energy forward in the song’s second half, the dynamic has changed from the first several tracks, and centerpiece/side B opener “Black Days” moves further out with an upbeat rhythm, scorching guitar and a lyrical reference to pyramids in the sky, which of course graced the cover of the first album half a decade ago.

A temporary slowdown leads to a raucous finish, and “Holy Man,” rages and sways in its beginning and finds solid ground in a second-half bridge of winding noise rock riffs, moving toward a drum-thudding finish that finds Hyde pushing his voice well past the breaking point before the rest of the song deconstructs, giving way to “Disappear,” which starts out like it’s going to work in loud/quiet verse tradeoffs but actually just gets loud and stays that way, building through its first verse to a weighted groove that it doesn’t again relinquish, lead guitar adding melodic counterpoint to the vocal howls in its ending, following another solid hook, maybe not accomplishing anything “Devils of Last Night” didn’t do on side A, but regrounding The Death of all Things in the core of Beastwars‘ songwriting prior to the brief acoustic sojourn of the penultimate “The Devil Took Her,” which brings in strings, keys/flute, quiet guitar and softer vocals for a genuine departure in modus if not mood from everything else on the LP.

To the best of my knowledge, an acoustic Beastwars track is a first, but the resonant strings work well as a precursor to the rumbling beginning of the closing title-track, “The Death of all Things” finishing — how could it not? — as the album’s ultimate resolution, building in aggression through its first verse and into an echoing chorus that, once it starts, doesn’t seem to stop, just moves through different stages for the remainder of the song. “I’ll tell you something/It’s a brand new world,” Hyde intones amid repeated finishing lines, and for Beastwars, if they’re actually looking beyond the existence of the band itself, it may well feel that way. What they leave behind, however, is a three-album legacy of destructive and stylistically ambitious noise/doom/heavy rock that stood out early and became even more their own as they moved forward. One never wants to say never in rock and roll, but if Beastwars are done, then The Death of all Things is the epitaph that a group of their scope and of their sheer gravitational force deserves.

Beastwars, “Witches” official video

Beastwars on Thee Facebooks

Beastwars on Twitter

Beastwars on Bandcamp

Beastwars website

Tags: , , , ,

Beastwars Release The Death of all Things April 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Lurching New Zealand sludge-doomers Beastwars will release their third album, The Death of all Things, on April 22 through Destroy Records. What do you say to new Beastwars other than “fuck yes?” Probably not much if you’ve heard the band, whose two outings to-date — 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire (review here) and 2011’s Beastwars (review here) — are so righteously pummeling as to make decriptors like “Crowbarian” seem insufficiently weighted. Preorders go live on March 11 for the vinyl, and to herald the album’s coming, the band has made the new track “Call to the Mountain” available for streaming.

You can hear that under the PR wire info below, and there’s a very good chance it will be the heaviest thing you put on today, so be ready before you dig in. Also looking forward to seeing the final artwork for the album by Nick Keller, who’s done their past records as well and never disappoints in scale or design. Until then, info and audio:

beastwars

BEASTWARS to release new album The Death Of All Things this April | Stream and share the new song ‘Call To The Mountain’

The Death Of All Things by Beastwars will be released worldwide through Destroy Records on 22nd April 2016

Obey The Riff… As far as aphorisms go few hit harder than Beastwars’ heavy metal mantra.

Returning in 2016 with what will undoubtedly become one of this year’s most revelatory releases, Beastwars are a band so heavy, and heavily admired by fans in the Southern Hemisphere, they practically weigh the world in place and stop it spinning wildly off its axis.

The Death Of All Things was produced by the band and James Goldsmith in their hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, mixed by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Big Business) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Windhand). and is the third and final full-length in a post-apocalyptic trilogy. An album that signals the arrival of one of metal’s best-kept secrets out from under; primed to take on the world full tilt.

In 2011, Beastwars released their self-titled debut to critical acclaim and in doing so transformed New Zealand’s metal landscape. Reviewers celebrated the album’s, “slow- burning furnace of bass-trawling riffage,” (The Sleeping Shaman) as well as its distinctive blend of lysergic and premonitory metal that compared the band to Kyuss, Neurosis and Godflesh, while hinting at influences as distinctive as The Jesus Lizard, Black Sabbath, and in Hyde’s ‘avant-grunt’, Celtic Frost. Music that at its very core channels a colossal mood filtered to a point where, “every wail, every riff, every bass thump and every cymbal crash serves to remind you that this is enigmatic and darkened metal, straight from the murky heart of the Antipodes.” (Sixnoises)

Two years on from their internationally acclaimed debut, Beastwars returned in 2013 with Blood Becomes Fire which landed at #2 in the nations music charts. The album delivered ten songs retaining all the strength and psychedelic fire of their first while presenting a powerful evolution in vision.

The Death Of All Things is released worldwide through Destroy Records on 22nd April 2016. On 11th March a pre-order for limited edition vinyl will be available from www.obeytheriff.com but in the meantime, you can stream and share their brand new song for ‘Call To The Mountain’ here.

Live:
20th February – Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney
21st February – Coburg Hall w. THE SWORD, Melbourne
27th February – The Studio w. THE SWORD, Auckland

Beastwars:
Clayton Anderson – Guitar
Nathan Hickey – Drums
Matt Hyde – Vocals
James Woods – Bass

Artwork by Nick Keller – www.nickkellerart.com

https://www.facebook.com/beastwars666/
https://beastwars.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/beastwarsband
https://www.instagram.com/beastwarsband/
http://www.obeytheriff.com

Beastwars, “Call to the Mountain”

Tags: , , , , ,

Beastwars Post New Video for “Rivermen”; Vinyl Released Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 9th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Today is the release date for the Destroy Records/Granite House Records vinyl reissues for Beastwars‘ two albums to date, Beastwars (review here) and Blood Becomes Fire (review here), and to mark the occasion, the New Zealand riff crushers have just unveiled a new video for the song “Rivermen” from their second outing. A slow-burner that showcases some of Blood Becomes Fire‘s more brooding sensibilities, the clip was filmed earlier this year at Camp A Low Hum in Wainuomata, NZ, and if the audience response depicted here is anything to go by, “Rivermen” was greeted with due appreciation. I wouldn’t argue.

Beastwars have made both the self-titled and Blood Becomes Fire available as name-your-price downloads through Bandcamp until June 15, and you’re just going to have to take my word for it when I tell you that for the investment in effort it takes to acquire them — i.e., none — it’s about as solid a payout as you’re going to find. The four-piece have a propensity for capturing the epic in their work, their songwriting, their artwork, their videos, and this time around they do it in the scale of the releases themselves, and in the case of the video, through the sheer act of performing their material live. They remain a band I’d very, very much like to see one of these days.

Reissue info follows the video below:

Beastwars, “Rivermen” official video

BEASTWARS: Vinyl reissues of Beastwars and Blood Becomes Fire out now on Granite House Records

Download both albums for free until 15th June via http://beastwars.bandcamp.com

Having always been appreciative of the support given to them by their diehard fans, New Zealand’s loudest sons have today rereleased their 2011 debut Beastwars, and last year’s acclaimed follow up Blood Becomes Fire via Granite House Records.

With original pressings already commanding high figures among collectors of rare heavy metal vinyl, not only are these reissues welcomed news for anyone who missed out first time around, they will gives new fans a chance to discover the band’s one and only maxim: Obey The Riff.

Thanks to a new partnership with the Denver, Colorado-based label Granite House Records (United States) and Rocket (Australia) both Beastwars and Blood Becomes Fire are now available worldwide through Destroy Records/Granite House Records. More info of which can be found here – http://granitehouserecords.bigcartel.com.

Beastwars on Thee Facebooks

Granite House Records

Tags: , , , ,