Review Summary: Newsflash: Craig Owens is a beast.
Craig Owens is probably the last person I would have expected to release a grindcore EP; "never judge a book by its cover" as the adage goes. Best known as the front man of scene darlings Chiodos, Owens has contributed to a myriad of 'mildly' heavy post-hardcore projects over the years (D.R.U.G.S. The Sound of Animals Fighting, etc...), but few would have ever expected to hear a performance as visceral as the one on 'Empathy Is A Gift' coming from a man known for his whining croons more than anything else. Recorded in a bedroom session last summer by himself and friend named Hiram, this grindcore project dubbed Bea5t, has just dropped one of the most surprising yet satisfying hardcore releases of the year thus far.
Sharing in a recent interview that some of his favorite bands growing-up were Ed Gein, The Locust, Converge, and Botch, once you swallow the pill that this is indeed a Craig Owens fronted project, it's no shock that Bea5t sounds like a modern amalgam of all these projects. From the throat-shredding Jacob Bannon-esque squeal that opens up premiere track "Werewolves, Not Swearwolves" to the Botch-inspired calamity that manifests itself in the majority of the music's discordance, you can clearly hear the spirit of these bands residing in Bea5t ferocious onslaught, without it ever feeling like a lesser derivative of its influences. All in all, it is a relatively straightforward grindcore release (well, as straightforward as grindcore can be anyway) but thanks to its brevity (four-songs in seven minutes) and all around quality, it's a release that begs for repeated rotation.
“We just wanted to make an album because it felt good -- not for money, not for fame -- but because we love music, and making art is cool." says Owens about the release. Throughout all the screams and punishing breakdowns, the fun he had recording Empathy Is A Gift
is obvious; the honesty and levity felt throughout makes the EP that much more enjoyable. It's downright awesome to see a musician of Owens stature forgoing everything that has made him a household name for a project built on a foundation of pure, music-loving passion. In turn, Empathy Is A Gift
is equally as awesome, and well worth a listen or twelve.