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"Beastwars Review"

Listening to this album makes me mad. Partly because so much piss-weak indie keeps being excreted by little boys looking for a girl’s hand to hold; but mostly because it’s reminding me of a time when drop tuning my axe to D was about all I had on the agenda. It’s also got me wondering if Beastwars are some kind of time-lords because this record’s giving me the distinct impression they’ve seen a glimpse of the future, and that shit wasn’t pretty. Turn this primordial ooze up to eleven and blow your eardrums in a prolonged sonic orgasm before the bombs hit. - Vice Magazine

"Slipped Discs 2011"

A home-country top 20 debut, sold-out shows, rock award nominations, an acclaimed video, award winning cover art and a beer brewed in their honor—New Zealand’s downtempo titans Beastwars had a triumphant 2011. The band’s self-titled debut—recorded in a scant few days and spilling over with palpable urgency—is the unacknowledged, mutated and illegitimate child of an extremely unholy union between the Jesus Lizard, early Soundgarden and Black Sabbath. Fronted by a lead singer whose unsettling charisma has all the hypnotism of a manically unhinged end-times preacher, Beastwars deliver primordial sermons from the crumbling mount. With a crushing blend of apocalyptic terror slathered with lugubrious atmospherics, the band’s twisted psychedelic narratives are set around stripped-back distorting riffs that revel in their dissonance. Cathartic, claustrophobic and oozing with peril, the rotten heart of the Antipodes has never been so spectacularly, or wantonly, exposed. - Pop Matters

"Beastwars: Heavy Music for Heavy Times"

Now we know where grungy metal went to mature: across the ocean to the Pacific Southwest. Part Unsane, part old-school Soundgarden, and part High on Fire. - The Alarm Press

"Doommantia Album Review"

Listen, I like using terminology. It helps me convey otherwise complex and multi-faceted concepts with a single word and gives you, the reader, an indication of what I am trying to describe. The trouble begins when I find something that falls through the cracks of genre conventions, takes a few out of each genre involved but doesn’t conform to any of the standards. Then, to be blunt, I have to pull terms right out of my ass. So here’s one: sludge rock.
That’s what Beastwars is about. If I had to describe this genre-crossing piece of beauty, I’d say it was stoner-tinted sludge rock. Yeah, sludge rock. The music isn’t harsh enough to qualify for sludge metal, and isn’t stoneriffic enough to qualify as stoner metal. It involves droning, not too overproduced but still sort of glossy-yet-dirty (think “hot mess”) guitars that churn out memorable, simple and tasteful riffs, under which a thick and nice layer of drums are added. The bass on this album has some serious attitude, so much so that at one point, I thought that was a baby T-Rex they had wired to the sound booth. It’s thick, sharp, nasty and roaring at times and overall brilliant. The vocals are the game-changer here: this guy has some serious range. The quirk is, however, he does vocals like he is drunk, in that the vocalizations are inherently unstable. You can hear soft croons right before throaty, mumbling shouts and it’s a brilliant, all-over-the-place addition.

Now, this beast starts with “Damn the Sky” which is a perfect opener. It alternates between chugging that one inexhaustible stoner riff like a sludge boss and letting the chords ride out a little – you can just feel the vice-grip those fretting hands have on the strings during verses. When the band isn’t hammering you over the head with those, they add rather hushed bass and throaty vocals. This trend actually carries into the second track, “Lake of Fire” which presents the more flowing and more restricted/controlled version of the same riff, in opposition. With a sweeping solo section and an ending that suddenly starts building on the main riff by making it heavier and heavier, it’s a colossal track.

Then comes “Mihi” and it’s got this quirky, playful, hammer-on riff that I guarantee will get stuck in your head the instant you hear it. The song itself is carried on by more pronounced bass, throaty, rambling vocals and slight, psych rock-like variations on the main riff on the second verse. Packing a brilliant chorus riff and a heavy, delicious bridge section, this track exemplifies what sludge rock is all about. Next up is “Daggers” which, frankly, reminds me of another song. The churning riff, the bass-with-serious-attitude, the sweeping leads and vocal concentration on a singular phrase (“Play it loud” in this case, which they do) carries the song, and it’s a good, slow burning sludge rock track with nice dynamism to it: this dynamism is more apparent in the chorus-like sections where the guitarwork briefly branch out into post-metal/sludge territories.

Then comes “Calling Out the Dead” which pulls an interesting trick with the main riff. See, it’s a bunch of notes (I figured, 8th) the first four bars, but in the second, each note is elongated by nearly one-half (as opposed to two, which I figure is a 6th note.) It provides nice flow and this infectious riff carries us towards the soaring, sweeping, overarching, beautiful chorus sections. The song also mingles both parts with a latter-part riff that combines both the more focused riffing and the spread-wing solo. Watch out. Next up is “Red God” which is where the sludge tones, the (g)rumbling bass are applied to a heavy metal song structure; the riff is very heavy metal, and the rest of the song is made to accompany. It’s a very nice, very easy-going track for most listeners, I think, with a nice bridge, a good solo, very serious bass sound and good flow. It’s a bit generic, I suppose, but that’s a high point.
Now, that’s - Doommantia

"Beastwars: First Strike is Deadly"

In their native New Zealand, the four-piece Beastwars have shared the stage with the likes of Helmet, High on Fire and the Melvins. Their self-titled, self-released debut (rightly) won a New Zealand Music Award for best artwork for its two gorgeous gatefold paintings – inside and outside – by Nick Heller, and the record itself is a finalist for “Best Rock Album.” They’ve sold out shows, will play the 2012 Big Day Out fest, and even have their own beer on the way. It’s a long list of accomplishments for a band just releasing their first record, but damned if Beastwars’ Beastwars doesn’t stand up to the quality, taking the less-explicitly Southern elements of early Alabama Thunderpussy’s crunchy riffing and injecting it with some Voivod-type dangerousness and grunge-based moody swagger in its quiet moments. Beastwars – vocalist Matt Hyde (not the recording engineer), guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods (not the actor) and drummer Nathan Hickey – balance accessibility with an underground mindset. Their songs are deceptively catchy, and they hone in on riff rock without ever completely giving way to the conventions of the genre. Hell, on the airy, late-arriving “Cthulhu,” they border on Radiohead’s pre-indulgence ‘90s radio days. Their spectrum is broad, but the sound consistent, and they work well within the contrast of the two.

“Damn the Sky” launches Beastwars with an immediate emphasis on chugging groove. Anderson’s riff is familiar but not necessarily easy to place (other than at the feet of Erik Larson) and Hyde – who now has a whole album of standout performances under his belt – moves seamlessly from a drawling, marbles-in-mouth verse to a throaty, whiskey-style chorus, and for a moment, that seems to be the breadth he’s going to work with, until “Lake of Fire” sees the adoption of a snarl reminiscent of Denis “Snake” Bélanger, and all bets are off. It’s appropriate to the song, which also reminds of Voivod (though perhaps a thickened Voivod thanks to Woods’ burly tone), and a smart way of revealing the various ways Beastwars can hurt: One at a time, but still all at once. With “Mihi” and “Daggers,” they unveil their ‘90s-style noise rock crunch, particularly on the latter reminding of the last Unsane record but still managing to eek an identity of their own out of the song. If you’re the nodding type, you’ll nod. If you’re the punch-in-the-face type, I’ll stand further away. A lead from Anderson keeps skillful time with the rhythm section for the bridge and only enhances the groove leading back to the chorus, and though they’re basically working with the same verse-chorus-etc. formula throughout the nine tracks, Beastwars use structure to their advantage. Centerpiece cut “Call Out the Dead” is among the most menacing, with a lurching bass-led groove and madman howls and growls from Hyde. Length-wise, it fits with the rest of the cuts – six of the nine are between four and five minutes, and the others aren’t outlandishly far off that mark – but it’s a standout for what the foursome do with that time.

As Beastwars’ second half commences with “Red God,” the band again takes a turn toward the Southern and riff-based. It’s the shortest song at 2:50, and it’s halfway over by the time it’s begun, but Beastwars once again carefully move between drunken aural nastiness and heavy rock guitar. Woods’ bass shines here as it did on some of the noisier cuts preceding, and proves to be a major factor in the overall success of the album, sticking a heavy low end beneath the more open feel of the record’s most sullen songs, “Iron Wolf” and the aforementioned “Cthulhu.” He’s got his work cut out for him keeping the strumming guitars and Hyde’s paean poetry grounded on the verses of “Iron Wolf,” but Hickey does a good job laying a foundation for the chorus to build on, and he and Woods prove all the more effective in working together in the song’s second half, when it seems like the guitars are almost in a separate place d - The Obelisk

"Beastwars: Beauty of the Beast"

Beastwars look to the past to make their unique brand of heavy metal, writes Scott Kara.

One devoted fan of Beastwars wrote on the heaving and unhinged Wellington quartet's Facebook page that they made him proud to be a New Zealander.

"It was the coolest thing," says Nathan Hickey, the band's bludgeoning drummer, "but I never really thought music could make someone feel patriotic like that. But I suppose it reminds me - and not to compare us to the mighty Shihad or anything - but when I was young listening to that band was something special."

Though Beastwars don't sound much like the Shihad of today, after many years playing in other bands it was a longing to be in something like their high school bands that got Hickey, singer Matt Hyde, guitarist Clayton Anderson and bass player James Woods together.

"This music is like the closest music to what my high school band sounded like," he laughs. "And in one way or another I think for all of us it's what sort of music our high school bands played - noisy, punky, heavy metal kind of stuff."

Hickey met Anderson at a gig and through "just being pissed at a bar" they got talking about what sort of band they wanted to be in; out of that drunken union, Beastwars was born.

That was 2006. Then along came Hyde, formerly of the Larry Normans, who turned up to one of the band's first shows when they were an instrumental three-piece. "Apparently he was in the crowd singing along, making up words to the songs," says Hickey who can't remember inviting him to the next practice but he turned up and joined in.

And they have played solidly ever since, and although it's taken a while they released their excellent self-titled debut album this month.

It's, well a beast of a record. Though it's easy to play hard fast and heavy metal, it's another thing to do it with perfect poise, power, and venom, as Beastwars do. So how did it come out sounding like that?

"I think because we're older," reckons Hickey. "I'm the youngest and I'm 32 and we've got two 40-year-olds in the band. So I think we don't have anything to prove, like look how fast we can play.

For me it's like cooking a sausage - you've got to cook it long and slow to retain that flavour. We tune down low, play quite slow, and keep the intensity there through hypnotic riffs rather than just bashing people over the head."

And they only made the album because people were coming to their shows and asking to buy some music that they could take home.

"The band has always been just for ourselves. There has never been a plan. So we had no expectations when we made the album and we just thought we'd go and record one."

They saved up between $100 and $200 each show and got enough money to record the album with Dunedin producer Dale Cotton, who in the past has worked with Dimmer and HDU.

"We recorded at Dale's house in the middle of winter, we all slept on the floor of the studio, and we only had a window of five days. But we figured Black Sabbath did their first album in two days so we could manage it," he laughs. - New Zealand Herald


Beastwars - Beastwars
Destroy005 (May 11 NZ/Sept 12 Worldwide)



Beastwars are a band from Wellington, New Zealand who play heavy music.

They formed in 2007 as 4 friends who never even considered that the world outside their practice room would have any interest in the noise they were creating. Because that wasn't the point of it - it was just for them. But the sound was like animal instinct or a force of nature. It was something that no one quite knew the power of, and that no one could control.

Their first ever show was at a friends birthday party in the hull of a tugboat. There were a lot of people there - and a lot of people loved the band. So they played more and more gigs. And more and more people came. And these people kept on asking the band to put out an album. So they did.

In just 4 days wintery days they made a record that changed the musical landscape of their home country forever.

The underground fans and the mainstream media welcomed the group to the forefront of the local music scene with the album debuting at #15 in the album charts (a definite first for a local band of this genre) and became one of the highest selling vinyl releases in recent local history. 5 star reviews followed - with the countries most read daily paper, The New Zealand Herald declaring "Beastwars bring together pummelling intensity, beautiful brutality, and sonic paranoia to create a sound all of their own."

They continued their assault on the country with 4 national tours and joined influential bands like Melvins, Kyuss, High On Fire, Helmet, Fu Manchu and Black Cobra on their New Zealand visits. Beastwars also had the honour of appearing at the final ever Auckland Big Day Out headlined by Soundgarden and then themselves headline the 3 day Camp A Low Hum festival.

Beastwars were nominated at the 2011 New Zealand Music Awards for Best Rock album and Best Album Artwork which they won for the gloriously mind melting gatefold by Nick Keller. Nick's day job is as a conceptual designer at Peter Jackon's Weta Weta Workshop - tasked with creating the worlds of The Hobbit, Avatar and Narnia. His 2 enormous oil paintings perfectly complimented the album with imagery so perfectly otherworldly, psychedelic and apocalyptic.

Earlier this year Beastwars made the shortlist for the Taite Music Prize. A cash award for outstanding artistic achievement in the vein of Britain's Mercury Prize. Although they didn't win their spirits were significantly raised in the knowledge that Hallertau brewery had created a beer in their honor. It tasted big, and in your face, and particularly angry while still being approachable. Just like the music that had inspired it.

Beastwars live by this simple motto - Obey the Riff.

Beastwars - Empire -
Beastwars - Lake of Fire -