Review Summary: The most underappreciated of Vader's albums is in fact a great record full of ideas, variety and emotion. Much groovier and lighter-hearted than their previous works too - a good album to get you into death metal altogether.
"The Beast" was the album that introduced me to extreme metal. Before that, there was only Evanescence, Linkin Park and System of a Down in my musical libraries. One day, though, when I was at the tender age of thirteen, The Beast was released. My father seemed to have prior experience with the band then, and bought a shiny copy of it (but not before listening to their other albums back at the store). Thanks to that act I would soon awaken into a whole new world of music. At first, naturally, the album seemed like senseless noise to me, and the first playthrough was nothing but a painful chore. My innate taste for good music prevailed, though, and after a few listens I as much as fell in love with this album.
Since that time, I've naturally familiarized myself with Vader's entire discography, but a soft spot for The Beast remains. It could be because this album isn't as heavy as their other ones, or because it's less chaotic and dissonant, or less reliant on dual tremolo picked black metallish melodies. Yes, this album's different from what came before and from what came after. It's an example of a short-lived trend in Vader's songwriting that would persist only on this album, and to a degree, on their following EP masterpiece "The Art of War".
The change in songwriting from "Revelations" is progressive, but quite noticeable - mainly due to the all but complete abandonment of blast beats and those "venomous" dual tremolo riffs Vader's famous for. This gives the album an almost exclusively thrashy feel, with lots of energy characterizing this genre and absent from death metal. The approach would shine through on their 2006 and 2011 albums (in exclusion to The Art of War), all of which emphasize melody to a much greater extent than the earlier works - and the way for it was paved by The Beast.
This album's neither as "venomous" as Litany and Revelations, nor quite as melodic as Impressions in Blood and Welcome to the Morbid Reich. Neither does it contain a cool synthy intro song (it's fully instrumental instead), nor any symphonic elements that have come to enhance and embellish later Vader - these are probably the reasons for the album's lukewarm reception. What it contains instead are huge numbers of groove, catchiness and emotion (check the solo for "Firebringer" or the dreamy "The Sea Came In At Last"). The intro track "Out Of The Deep" is one of the most fun thrash/death metal songs made, while the single "Dark Transmission" is just the thing to have fun and headbang to. The best song on the album is the fantastic, almost progressive "Apopheniac" - I remember that song taking me the most time to stomach, but in the end it's become probably the most fun to listen to on this album. And the at-first-deceptively-calm, amazing closer "Choices", is probably in the top three of Vader's album closers - and they're known for making good ones.
All in all, this album is a very essential thrash/death release. And this fact shouldn't be taken as bad, even considering that Vader's predominantly a death metal band. Don't look at this effort as a failed one - it does indeed differ from pretty much any other album by them, but variety is a good thing. Try to find fun in listening to the catchiest, most energetic album by Vader - and of that fun there is plenty for the willing.
Out of the Deep
The Sea Came In At Last