NEW MUSIC: Beastwars– Omens

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photo by David James

New Zealand metal band Beastwars return with their first single since singer Matt Hyde successfully underwent 6 months of treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2016. ‘Omens’ comes from their new LP IV, due out on Friday June 28th.

 Hyde said that 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 – and 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.

To celebrate the album release Beastwars are touring New Zealand and Australia in June/July – presented by Panhead Custom Ales. They are hitting Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin in New Zealand and then jumping over the Tasman to play Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne shows.

IV can be pre-ordered now at all good digital stores and streaming platforms and Limited Edition Vinyl, Cassette and T-Shirt Bundles are available at http://www.beastwars.bigcartel.com. Single ‘Omens’ is available for streaming and purchase now.

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2013 MID YEAR FAVOURITE ALBUMS

2013 mid year faves

Here we are again at list time, halfway through 2013 and already there have been a swathe of great albums released. We’ve been listening to an eclectic mix of stuff as usual including dub electronica, skronking freeform saxophone, abrasive art rock, retro-leaning post punk and heartstring americana. These are the records we’ve loved the most from what we’ve heard this year. There will be others from the last six months that we’ll discover as the rest of the year rolls out but we can at least highly recommend these ones – in no particular order…

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
  • Protomartyr – No Passion All Technique
  • The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango
  • Kirin J Callinan – Embracism
  • The Drones – I See Seaweed
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
  • Jason Isbell – Southeastern
  • DJ Koze – Amygdala
  • Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
  • Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light
  • Zomby – With Love

ALBUM REVIEW: Beastwars | Blood Becomes Fire

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by Chris Familton

Rating8.5square-600Beastwars are something of a musical anomaly in that a group of men in their late thirties arrived seemingly fully formed on the Wellington scene before releasing their debut self-titled LP and rapidly building a strong, nationwide fanbase. The musical allegiance of their fans in the metal scene isn’t a surprise as devotees of the hard, fast and heavy dictum are notoriously passionate followers. What made the Beastwars story all the more interesting was their infiltration of the mainstream media in the form of award shows, TV and radio exposure.

There was the hope that the first record wasn’t the full extent of their songwriting capabilities, a lifetime culmination of their combined musicality. That fear is allayed instantly with their sophomore release Blood Becomes Fire, a supercharged slab of metal that cuts a swathe across many of its myriad sub-forms, chewing them up and angrily spitting them out as bludgeoning musical statements.

The opening jackhammer riff of Dune makes it instantly clear that the band hasn’t decided to mellow and explore post rock or prog metal diversions. They hit the ground running and they don’t let up for three minutes of churning Tool-like sludge metal. Imperium takes a step back in speed but ratchets up the intensity and in the process shows doffs its cap to the influence of early Shihad in the brittle chopped up chords and that semi-industrial bass churn. The defining moment of the song comes at the 3:38 where you are left in no doubt that Matthew Hyde is one of New Zealand’s finest exponents of visceral throat shredding as the music momentarily eases and he unleashes a spine tingling guttural bellow that sounds like the aural equivalent of a tortured soul desperately baying for redemption. Hyde isn’t just a screamer though, he shows restraint and variation at various points on Blood Becomes Fire, a key to ensuring that the album doesn’t drain and exhaust the listener by rote of its relentless intensity.

Economy is a key to why Blood Becomes Fire maintains its presence across its ten tracks. Only the last song exceeds five minutes and generally they work within standard rock song parameters of verses, choruses, middle eights, breakdowns and build ups. Beastwars also display a wide range of influences, albeit through subtle means. There are nods to everything from Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, the lesser prog tendencies of Tool, the classic demonic industrial metal of Ministry and Godflesh, the punk/hardcore intensity of bands like Refused and the intergalactic stoner rock of Kyuss. They have ultimately figured out how to combine all those disparate influences into their own cohesive and succinct brand of heavy music. Moments like the sci-fi metal intro to Shadow King, the melodic interplay of The Sleeper and the almost Gordons-esque bass at the start of Ruins show that the band and engineer/producer Dale Cotton have worked hard to build in those small, often surprising elements that lift the album well above the plethora of metal releases trying to out-muscle each other.

Thematically there are a bunch of typical metal signifiers at work on Blood Becomes Fire – from death, redemption and judgement to apocalyptic dread. In lesser hands they can become cartoonish but via Hyde’s vocal cords and the ruthless playing of Clayton Anderson, Nathan Hickey and James Woods they create an entirely self sufficient world of physical and emotional death, destruction and the vagaries of mortality. Often it is difficult to hear what Hyde is singing/screaming but the band more than make up for any  loss of literal interpretation by shading the music with light, dark, intimate and epic shapes as required.

Blood Becomes Fire is a hugely impressive album that many hoped for but not all expected. The band have built on their strengths almost perfectly, never once over-stretching themselves or resorting to filler to flesh out the record. The world stage beckons and is probably a given in a genre of music where its best exponents generally rise to the top regardless of where they hail from. Beastwars’ mantra is ‘Obey The Riff’ and though they have bent, abused, reconfigured and honoured it they haven’t for a second lost sight of its power and importance.

this review was first published on Under The Radar

NEW MUSIC: Beastwars release first taste of their new LP

New Zealand masters of the heavy Beastwars have gone from strength to strength on the back of their live shows and their great debut LP. Ahead of the release of the second album they’ve pressed up two of the tracks on ‘glow in the dark’ 7″ vinyl. You can check out The Sleeper (B-side) below, a dark ominous lumbering monster of a track and the band will unleash the even heavier A-side Tower of Skulls in the coming weeks.

Tour Dates

AUCKLAND
Saturday 17 November – Kings Arms Tavern
With Bloody Souls and Proton Beast
Tickets from http://www.utr.co.nz

WELLINGTON
Friday 23 November – San Francisco Bath House
With Arc of Ascent and Von Thundersvolt
Tickets from http://www.utr.co.nz

NEW PLYMOUTH
Saturday 24 November — NZ Tattoo Festival, TSB Stadium
With Cobra Khan and The Bleeders
Door sales only

CHRISTCHURCH
Saturday 1 December – The Irishman, 177 St Asaph Street
With Anthesiac and Hayne
Tickets from http://www.utr.co.nz

BEASTWARS ON FACEBOOK

NEWS: New Zealand’s Taite Music Prize 2012 Finalists Announced…

The Taite Music Prize is the equivalent of the UK’s Mercury Prize or the Australian Music Prize and recognises outstanding creativity for an album release. The award is $10,000 in cash to be used however the artist wants. This year’s finalists are:

Andrew Keoghan – Arctic Tales Divide (Brave Beluga Records)
Beastwars – Beastwars (Destroy Records)
David Dallas – The Rose Tint (Dirty Records)
She’s So Rad – In Circles (Round Trip Mars)
The Bats – Free All The Monsters (Flying Nun Records)
Tiny Ruins – Some Were Meant For Sea (Spunk Records)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Seeing Records)

The judging panel is comprised of:

Jon Bywater (Programme Leader, Critical Studies @ Elam School Of Fine Arts)
Hugh Sundae (Entertainment Editor, NZ Herald Online)
Stephen O’Hoy (IMNZ / Amplifier / DRM)
Jeremy Morrow (Warner Music)
Leonie Hayden (Editor, RipItUp)
Richard Thorne (Editor, NZ Musician)
Andrew Tidball (Editor, Cheese On Toast)
Russell Brown (Public Address)
Charlotte Ryan (95bFM)
Glenn Williams (Wammo) (KiwiFM)
11th Man – John Taite (BBC America)
The Judge Wrangler – Damian Vaughan (APRA)

Personally we’ll be hoping the award goes to Tiny Ruins, The Bats or Beastwars when the winner is announced on the 20th April in Auckland.

Questions & Answers: Beastwars

Beastwars have their debut album out polluting young minds and are touring New Zealand to rabid audiences at the moment. The record stands as one of the great metal albums to come out of the shaky isles in quite a long time and we managed to catch frontman Matt Hyde for a few minutes between gigs for the inaugural interview in our new section Questions & Answers where we’ll try to cut to the chase and find out the latest views and happenings, mumblings and rants from a bunch of musicians…

How has your music evolved since the band first formed?

We are now about to start demoing the new album and we’re already 6 songs in. So far I believe it is sounding even larger  and the year’s adventures have given us the confidence to write something bigger than the debut. About 4 of the new songs have already been played live so these are exciting times. We start our last tour for the year next week and will have a time in Whanganui on the day of  the show to work on some more tracks. We hope to continue this pattern using different spaces on the tour to record.

 Is there a story behind the origin of the name Beastwars?

Up until couple of years ago our drummer who came up with the name thought he had made it up. He believed it summed up the sound of music he want to create.

It feels like you have tapped into something that has been missing from the heavier end of the NZ music scene. Can you put your finger on what that is?

The country suffering through a recession, the end of the good times. We may of kind of brought a sound that people want to hear right now, I dont now its a hard one to answer but our record stuck out  from a lot of other releases this year.

For a genre too often built on cliche you’ve invested some interesting angles in your music like post punk, noise and more textural elements. Was there a concerted effort to avoid any cliches?

We all have such a wide range of influences in the group we all brought it together to make the record and we were just trying to make a good record.

Dale Cotton (producer) has done a stellar job harnessing the sound of Beastwars, how was the recording experience for you?

What made it great was the deadline we set ourselves and also removing ourselves to Dunedin where we would wake early and make music late into the night. It was very focused but a hell a lot of fun at the same time.

Are you surprised by the attention the band has received over the last year?

It has been an amazing reaction, we have been very lucky. It’s been great to see the album embraced the way it has.

Many band’s fire their best shots on their first album, do you feel like Beastwars have hit their peak yet or are new songs still evolving the sound of the band?

It’s hard to say you will have to be the judge of that when we release the second album but I will say the new songs are feeling louder.

Does the band have long term ambitions, if so what are they? Any plans to get to Australia?

We wanted to come to Oz this year but have ended up having a great year here. The new album will be our priority in the new year and then hopefully after that we’ll make it over there.

North Island NZ Tour

Palmerston North – Friday Oct 28th
The Royal w/ Wall of Silents and Bloodspray for Politics

Whanganui – Saturday Oct 29th
Space Monster w/ Caves and Robin

Hamilton – Friday Nov 4th
Biddy Mulligan’s w/ Mountaineater and Arc of Ascent

Auckland – Saturday Nov 5th
4:20 w/ Mountaineater and Arc of Ascent

Wellington – Sat Nov 12th
Bodega with Arc of Ascent and Detrÿtus

WATCH: Beastwars | Lake of Fire

New Zealand’s monolithic metal creatures Beastwars have had a massive year with a ton of packed out shows and the release of their debut album which is up there with the best heavy/metal records of 2011. Here is their first official video for the song Lake of Fire directed by Hamish Waterhouse. You can catch the band touring NZ through October and November, dates on their FB page. Also check out their stuff over at Bandcamp where you can pick up the abum digitally for a steal at 10 USD.