Saturday, 21 December 2013

Beastwars - Blood Becomes Fire


Beastwars are a band that I've not given enough attention to. They've been on my radar for quite some time. It's quite fitting that they're another band from the far flung shores of New Zealand, as a few of their compatriots have sprung on this blog recently and with the weather being so miserable in UK right now, I'm also dreaming of warmer climes.

Beastwars have been taking it steady since their formation in 2007 and have released two LP's in that time. Their self-title debut in 2011 and the subject of this review, Blood Becomes Fire in April of this year. They're also the only band I know of that've done a tour of Melbourne, Australia! They're also due to make an appearance at Auckland's Big Day Out festival in January and on viewing the line-up, they are probably the heaviest band in attendance. Good work!

Tracklist:-

1. Dune
2. Imperium
3. Tower of Skulls
4. Realms
5. Rivermen
6. Caul of Time
7. Ruins
8. Blood Becomes Fire
9. Shadow King
10. The Sleeper

The first thing that struck me with Beastwars was the vocals. I was trying to remember who that reminded me of, but it was impossible and futile because they sound like nothing I’ve heard. They add to the impact that Beastwars produce with album opener Dune, which is groovy and heavy all at once. There’s isn’t a huge amount of melody in the riffs, but there are some really atmospheric dynamics at play, especially during the intro of Imperium, which is an off-kilter song at times and where the dispels the grooving on the first number.

Beastwars move in another direction with Tower of Skulls. The heaviness is put to one side briefly and is replaced with semi-clean singing and varied guitar patterns. There is still an underlying groove and menace to it all though. The cool thing about Blood Becomes Fire is that the production isn’t overdone. It’s good and it gives the record volume, but it doesn’t sound false, which allows the band to sound genuine. The intros to songs are usually the clearest before the guitar fuzz kicks in and the drums increase the tone. As you listen to songs like Realms, you start to really appreciate the song-writing of Beastwars as well as their ability to layer them with the right instrumental textures.

It might be an omen and Rivermen begins, because it’s blowing an absolute gale outside my window, which I can actually hear over the music.  This is a great song, with plenty of blues influence and even some country elements thrown in. It’s simple and quieter during the verses before it crescendo’s during the choruses. It’s that build up and release that make it a standout for me. After the mid-way point of Rivermen, Beastwars inject more urgency into the album with a trio of heavy hitters, Caul of Time, Ruins and the title track. The vocals melodies are louder and the tempo’s are up, as far as they can be when a band’s chosen genre is stoner/sludge. During the aforementioned title track the bass conquers all.

There’s undeniable rock n roll flair on show during Shadow King, with some great lead work that sounds proper dramatic and leads you into a thick sludgathon. Closing song The Sleeper is Beastwars’ ballad. It’s approached in the same way that Riverman was earlier with more clean singing and calming guitar. They let the bass have it’s moment too, ensuring that the low-end is suitably catered for. It might seem more radio friendly than earlier songs at times, but I think the balance works really well overall.

Blood Becomes Fire shows great musicianship and maturity from Beastwars and I’m gobsmacked that they haven’t been picked up by a big label yet, as they would put many established major label bands to shame. This is a comp;eye grower and will get repeat listens from me for sure.

Listen for yourselves below:-



You can buy Blood Becomes Fire digitally from bandcamp page above.

You can buy the album in both CD and LP formats directly from the Beastwars website - http://www.bloodbecomesfire.com

Beastwars Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/beastwars666

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