Beastwars
Blood Becomes Fire


4.2
excellent

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
April 19th, 2013 | 107 replies


Release Date: 04/19/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Boisterous sludge metal complemented with futuristic visions of apocalypse to startling effect.

New Zealand's Beastwars seem to apply the maxim: “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” on their second full length. Blood Becomes Fire follows the footsteps of their hugely successful self-titled debut that was hailed by critics and fans of sludge metal alike. The new album is also produced by Dale Cotton, and it feels like a worthy follow-up sharing the same sonic aesthetics. The quartet's sound still revolves around a colossal aural assault, now augmented with science-fiction undertones splendidly captured by Nick Keller's spellbinding cover art.

In its relentless heaviness the album may be indebted to the likes of High On Fire and early Mastodon, yet the foursome continues to establish their own identity with an immediately recognizable style. James Woods' towering bass lines resemble the movements of tectonic plates, thus placing the music in a brand new context. It's uncommon for sludge metal bands to depend on the power of this instrument to such an extent. In case of Beastwars, the constantly throbbing bass serves as a foundation for a gargantuan wall of sound showcasing the act's evident noise-rock leanings. The contribution of other members shouldn't be diminished though. Guitarist Clayton Anderson delivers a distinctly diverse performance that constantly ranges from thick and crushing to ominous and spaced-out, while drummer Nathan Hickey is in charge of various tempo changes resulting in a multitude of deft progressions.

The crucial component of the band's thunderous sound is the presence of charismatic singer in Matt Hyde whose vocals oscillate between gruff bellows and sinister crooning. His gravel-throated voice along with prophetic posturing hit hard, and make perfect sense given the apocalyptic themes in his lyrics. Blood Becomes Fire is told through the eyes of a dying traveller from another time who finds the contemporary world ruined, and tackles such universal topics as morality, death and disease. Hyde is particularly commendable when he's in his storytelling mode. Both “Rivermen” and “The Sleeper” highlight his penchant for conjuring up ghastly visions of decay and uncontrollable chaos.

Instead of stretching out their presentation beyond the limits of endurance, Beastwars are admirably focused and concise. In its lean 39-minute running time, the album hardly overstays its welcome with the approach “less is more” being in full swing. Actually, some of the most immaculate tracks barely go over the 3-minute mark. The opener “Dune” sets the tone of the record with its non-linear transitions crascendoing in a supreme mosh riff. “Realms” is built around a thick groove that provides a backdrop for the most memorable passage of the entire disc with Hyde maniacally chanting at the top of his lungs: “Build us a temple/A temple for the gods/Build us a temple/Deep in the Seer's mind.” Following suit, “Caul Of Time” is supremely accessible due to its simple structure and enticing chorus. The four-piece does an excellent job of balancing these fast-paced jams with more drawn-out tunes, being more in line with conventional sludge metal aesthetics. In this regard, “Imperium” clearly stands out with its off-kilter rhythmic shifts making for an elusively futuristic vibe.

While the group's motto “obey the riff” couldn't be more fitting, boiling down Blood Becomes Fire solely to its sonic onslaught doesn't really do the act's performance justice. Granted, this is superbly conceived sludge metal through and through, yet the album is also very much about apocalyptic visions that find a perfect reflection in Hyde's earnest vocals. Beastwars excel in churning out music that would certainly make for an ideal soundtrack to the end of the world. There's a sense of foreboding tension making its presence felt in every moment of the record, one that propels the band into the top league of underground metal.




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user ratings (48)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


7432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

The first half of the album is streaming here:

http://beastwars.bandcamp.com/

My interview with Nathan Hickey:

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/blog/2013/05/06/beastwars-blood-becomes-fire-interview/

Digging: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Rhythm

tempest--
April 19th 2013


14403 Comments


Sweet review, Greg! Just checked out Tower of Skulls, sounds pretty awesome.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


7432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks. I admit I have a soft spot for these guys. I don't exactly know why I haven't reviewed their previous LP.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


3492 Comments


WHAT

NOT STONER ROCK

WHAT

good review as always, sludge isn't really my thing but i trust this is good

LilLioness
April 19th 2013


2727 Comments


I have enjoyed what I have heard of this album so far.

demigod!
April 19th 2013


45005 Comments


Beast Wars was the heroin of my childhood. nice review, might have to check

Digging: Autechre - LP5

greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


7432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

@Brostep: It's nothing out of ordinary for me. Sludge and doom metal are actually my favorite subgenres of metal.

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
April 19th 2013


1477 Comments


Noice. One of the better Kiwi metal bands, yeah.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


3492 Comments


Haha, I figured, I can picture you listening to sludge and doom. Would I like this?

greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


7432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

The vocals are mostly gruff, but this is really catchy at times. So I guess you may...

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


3492 Comments


I'll check it out, I'm home today and don't really have anything to do, plus Boston's on lockdown right now so I can't really go outside

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


3492 Comments


First impressions: the vocals are kinda wonky, but it's all right. Not really my cup of tea though

Keyblade
April 19th 2013


15226 Comments


awesome band name haha

Digging: Insides - Euphoria

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


8387 Comments


This sounds cool, Greg, I'll check it out.

InbredJed
April 19th 2013


6101 Comments


woah gonna check this!

Storm In A Teacup
April 19th 2013


13191 Comments


DINOBOT, MAXIMIZE!!!!!!

Ponton
Emeritus
April 19th 2013


5815 Comments


omg beast wars

Digging: Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

Jethro42
April 19th 2013


12547 Comments


Excellent review, Greg. Gonna listen to the album later.

Storm In A Teacup
April 19th 2013


13191 Comments


RAMPAGE, TERRORIZE!!!!!!!

As a ten year old, I wanted to fuck Black Arrachnia

taylormemer
April 19th 2013


4944 Comments


God, looking back, I can't believe I thought that show was good.



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