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Album Reviews : Beastwars – Blood Becomes Fire

By on April 29, 2013

1168486211-1The cover art of Blood Becomes Fire, the latest release from Beastwars, is a damn fine representation of what’s inside. It’s heavy, ominous, oppressive, dark and gloomy, and offers nothing but despair as it unrolls its quest for total annihilation.

Since the release of Beastwars’ self-titled debut in 2011, stoner metal fans from around the world have discovered there’s a country called New Zealand. It does in fact produce a wealth of musicians, actors, sportsmen etc., punching well above its weight. While music critics marvelled at the idea the inhabitants of NZ even knew what music was, Beastwars started on record number two, and it cements their spot on the world stage. And so we come to have a band from the youngest country in the world singing about the end of the world.

The record recalls the likes of High On Fire and Motörhead in its overall sludge metal feel and the bass is the key. It’s so thick, rich, dirty and loud, it rumbles so hard you can visualise and feel those strings vibrate. It propels the music in the same way as the bass in “Talking to a Stranger” and “Betty’s Worry Or The Slab” by Hunters and Collectors. Yes of course it sounds different but there is that raw, primitive essence.

Apart from bass, riffs are what Beastwars love churning out and they do it even better on this album than the debut, some of them carrying the melody but mostly driving the rhythm and creating lots of noise, opening track “Dune” being the best example as it explodes out of the gates. The record shares as much with noise rock as it does with metal – “Tower of Skulls” creates a wall of guitar and bass that provides the backdrop of the assault while vocals carry the strong melody and “Realms” builds on this with a stronger psych feel in the riffs, as does closer “The Sleeper”.

Matt Hyde’s often-growling vocals are dark, deep and menacing and really create the feel of despair and futility that bathes the record. At times it signals resignation, perhaps even melancholy, while at others it’s angry. Proper angry. “Tower of Skulls” in particular shows off his range of style and emotion but it’s evident throughout the album. He’s not a million miles in his soulfulness, emotion and deep baritone from Mark Lanegan, especially given the context of the riffing in the less intense parts of the record.

Blood Becomes Fire is intense and heavy so there are times when it can be overpowering, but this is about the mood of the listener and not a negative by any means. When the mood is right for some depressing end-of-the-world sludgy, heavy rock and metal, this is the record to reach for.

Band: Beastwars
Album: Blood Becomes Fire
Year: 2013
Genre: Stoner/Sludge
Label: Independent
Origin: New Zealand

Track list:
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


A relatively recent convert to more extreme metal (not exclusively), I've always preferred non-commercial and progressive music to mainstream. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where in my youth I lived for every new Greasy Pop Records release. I also write for ech(((o)))es & dust and ThisIsNotAScene but it's good to start contributing to an Australian metal site.