Area: New Zealand
Date Of Release: June 28th 2019
Genre: Sludge / Doom
Record Label: Independent
For Fans Of: 4000 Year old Babylon, Foxing, Possessed
"Canopy of time and space Listen to it's will, It calls your name Back to the beginning" - The Traveller
Roaring out of New Zealand, Wellington’s own BEASTWARS recently released their album "IV" following an intense personal journey for the band. They wanted to ‘capture new songs as a thank you to all the fans’ and put out a sludge release that should appeal to their fans and potentially make some new ones along the way.
BEASTWARS curtain raiser, erm, sword-raiser, more like, introduces listeners to a barrage of distortion and harsh vocals which mightn’t tickle your fancy if this isn’t the particular kind of music you’re used to listening to. Sludge is certainly a bit more of a niche and less-spoken about genre, but ‘Raise the Sword’ introduces things quite well and sets the tone for these other slower, riff obedient tracks such as ‘Storms of Mars’ and ‘Sound of the Grave’.
It’s songs like ‘Wolves and Prey’ that attract me a bit more to this release, as the quickened tempo brings up the entire mood of the composition in my opinion and doesn’t wane nearly as much as other tracks during the more ‘lull’ moments scattered throughout. Whilst generally being a fan of pristine and crystal clear production, I really love how BEASTWARS approached their sound in "IV". These dirty, muddy tones blend together so cohesively it makes this collage of noise seem purposeful, as opposed to other bands nowadays who can tend to give off the vibe that they went into the recording studio unprepared and produce a subpar album as a result. I definitely imagine that this was their intent, but I feel it has been done really well in this particular instance.
The one thing that really started to hit me once I was into tracks like ‘This Mortal Decay’ and ‘Omens’ (the latter moreso) was the repetitiveness. Objectively, even subjectively, the first 6 tracks are not individually bad by any means, but I struggled to stay engaged as I was introduced to each new track. It may be due to my lack of expertise in sludge, but I failed to really feel any oomph at any point through "IV" because, as a whole, it can kind of just mindlessly meld together and drone on with the exception of some occasionally used lead guitar. As nice as a little variety could be, I’m unsure what the limitations of experimentation are within this genre and scene, so it is a small gripe nonetheless.
Although, an attempt at diversity is made to close out the album in ‘The Traveller’ and ‘Like Dried Blood’, BEASTWARS tend to do quite well here as this ended up being my favourite songs on the whole album. ‘The Traveller’ starts out with clean tones unfamiliar up until this point with a gradual crescendo to reach that more recognizable sound the band has offered so far. The note intervals about halfway through felt radically different to anything that the lead guitar had done previously and the song had a completely changed mood and vibe in comparison to the rest of "IV".It was a great transition into the album’s closer, which I undoubtedly could have mistaken the first half of for a low budget Foxing track based on vocals alone. Similarly to ‘The Traveller’, ‘Like Dried Blood’ slowly picks up pace and eases into the more typical BEASTWARS sound that has been present for the rest of the album, presenting a closing song that I felt was too far down the track listing for its diverse sound to leave a lasting impact and provide that ‘oomph’ that I mentioned earlier. There may be justified reasoning to tell their story how they wanted, but I think that "IV" could have benefited if that song got shifted forward a couple of places.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed these songs and the band should be proud of providing a strong follow up after to some really rough trials and tribulations outside of their musical lives. Obey the Riff \m/!
- IV Track List -
1. Raise the Sword
2. Wolves and Prey
3. Storms of Mars
4. This Mortal Decay
6. Sound of the Grave
7. The Traveller
8. Like Dried Blood
Would You Go And See Them (WYGAST) 2/5
Personal Enjoyment: 6/10