Review Summary: That which disturbs your soul you must not suffer.
"In a Promethean sense, man is a God. But on an even more profound level, man is a beast. This primary contradiction has plagued mankind for millennia. Man is a God. Man is a beast. These two aspects of his personality have been waging war with one another for countless centuries; a war whose casualties are seen everywhere and recognized nowhere. But there exists, however, a long forgotten place in the soul where God and beast intersect. To go to that place is to witness the death of one world and the birth of another...join me.
Boyd Rice is a controversial man.
If there is anything that can be said at least this much is true of the guy. One of the most dividing cult figures of all time, Rice is an underground figure who has operated on the fringes of experimental music since the 70's helping to pioneer the unique niche of the growing industrial scene known as noise, also later on being instrumental in helping to develop post-industrial music circles such as neofolk. Alongside his musical endeavors he has gained a certain notoriety over the years, mostly for his outspoken philosophies which had become increasingly esoteric and sinister as he became ordained as a priest in the Church of Satan, and founded a Social Darwinist group known as The Abraxas Foundation that promotes authoritarianism, totalitarianism, misanthropy and elitism. Along with such stunts as appearing on racist TV shows and getting a regular slot arguing with christian radio host Bob Larson, Rice also found his place as a prominent sound archivist, a revivalist of Tiki Bar culture and something of a social critic writing about all kinds of topics he shows an uncanny knowledge for including pranks, 60's novelty bath soaps, mondo films, fascism as an eternal construct in nature, the real search for the Holy Grail, his time visiting Charles Manson in jail and hanging out with Anton LaVey.
He has alienated many of his friends and fans over the years due to his conflicting nature, but despite this he manages to come off as something a true Renaissance man in many ways and people regularly debate whether the guy is just trolling or completely serious. God & Beast
is his 1997 release with solo act NON, coming right after a period of deep unpopularity in the mid 90's where his particular brand of fascism was desperately uncool and he was facing fire on all sides. The Boyd Rice Experience's Hatesville!
was released in the thick of this particular time, something of an avant-garde spoken word release recorded with such figures as Shaun Partridge and Jim Goad, the perfect expression that could have been hoped for at the time and certainly one of the most unique albums I have ever heard. A couple of years later, new NON was released, and boy was Rice firing on all cylinders. God & Beast
This is one of the best noise music albums I have heard, alongside ambient and noise loops Rice opts for plenty of militaristic percussion giving this something of a martial industrial feel. It is a concept album, as Rice explores themes to do with man as both God & Beast and is best demonstrated on tracks such as Between Venus & Mars
, The Law
and Total War
, Rice speaking like a man energetically addressing a political rally over a soundtrack of horrifying frequencies and huge, monstrous sounding percussion. Although it is separated into several tracks it plays out from start to finish as one unbroken piece of music, building up from humble beginnings to a mighty climax, drifting off into an almost paranoid uncertainty of sound. Douglas P. of Death In June makes an appearance contributing vocals to the song Millstones
(also playing e-bow and wind chimes), as does neofolk regular Rose McDowall, giving this something of a vague mystical touch that isn't far removed from the feel of Current 93 and the like, but still remaining firmly in the realms of ambient and noise. The textures of this album are of particular interest, mostly it is dissonant walls of noise and driving percussion set to hypnotic lyrical patterns but by the time the repetitions of The Law
rolls around you'll know we are really onto something else, Out Out Out
an equally unusual and pleasant surprise. The highlight of this album is by far Total War
though, the entire album building up to its fierce blend of droning noises and thundering drums as Rice questions the listener over and over -
"Do you want Total War?
Throw out Christ & bring back Thor!
Do you want Total War?
Unleash the beast, in man once more!
A strong way to finish an already superb album, Total War
is undoubtedly one of the most essential moments in industrial music. Things would start to quiten down for Rice somewhat after God & Beast
, he would largely retreat out of the limelight (as far as being a cult underground figure goes, in any case) to do all kinds of dry, esoteric intellectual research along with putting out the odd album with Death In June and releasing an album of 60's pop covers with close friend Giddle Partridge (whom he apparently hates now and can't stand). I'd like to think of God & Beast
as something of the final expression of one of the most tumultuous periods of his life, certainly leaving this listener most intrigued at just another side revealed of one of the strangest men I have ever read about. Whatever your political stance and philosophical beliefs, God & Beast
is difficult to ignore.