When I reviewed Beastwars’ debut, I noted that they were “the heaviest thing to hit Godzone since the Big Sheep Shearer,” and I’m sticking by that statement. Although New Zealand isn’t necessarily known for sludge metal, there is a wave of extreme, avant-garde, underground metal bands from the Isle of Phil Rudd… and these guys are definitely bringing up the bottom end with their downtuned riffage.
Pretentious post-sludge, this is not. The nine tracks on here span an even 40 minutes, with none much longer than five. “Call to the Mountain” starts us off in straightforward sludgy fashion, with a stop-start riff somewhat akin to the Melvins and a garbled gravel vocal that sounds like Lemmy on a bad day. A deep, grimy bass line beings “Devils of Last Night,” a downtuned stomper that spins off into some softer moments, complete with clean(er) singing, before coming on strong like a raging, erm, beast. A pretty decent exercise in contrast, to be sure.
There seems to be somewhat of a Satanic theme here, as “Some Sell Their Souls” offers an eerie, gothic verse culminating in a somewhat spacey chorus. I find that the Motorhead vocals don’t work as well on some of the lighter moments, such as heard on the angular, proggy “Black Days” or the slow buildup of “Holy Man.” The leather-lunged yelping can work well in a heavier context, but it would be better if the vocals were as dynamic as the instrumentation.
With that being said, Beastwars at its best hits harder than Phil Rudd on a methamphetamine bender, and this stuff would certainly appeal to fans of Sofy Major, KEN Mode, and other forward-thinking, noise-rock outfits.