Beastwars is one of those bands that unfairly hasn’t gotten their due, however with their noise informed and rock inspired third full length The Death Of All Things hopefully this will change. Just to be clear, the band have not underwent a seismic shift from their sludgy and muscular past. But this album leans heavily on melody and emotions, and really with the albums title it’s almost expected. If you’re already a fan of the band this album will not disappoint and if you’re just discovering them, now is a fantastic time to jump in.
With the band’s first two full lengths, comparisons to Kyuss and Remission era Mastodon flew around like a flock of birds and for the most part were pretty accurate. One thing that’s always been appealing about this New Zealand group is their murky abrasiveness that exists no matter what direction a song takes. Heavy enough to please any metalhead and rock enough to satisfy just about everyone else, which is quite a feat particularly with today’s strict adherence to whatever rules of kvlt that no one has published the cliff’s notes for. Good music is good music, and Beastwars do indeed make good music. With that said it further begs the question of why they’re not absolutely huge by this point.
If the last two albums were the scuzzy rockers then this one is the 12 rounder with a photo finish. As brawny as their material has been its obvious on first spin the band isn’t content to sit still as heard on the Unsane inspired “Devils Of Last Night”. Milky thick grooves and pointed bass lines hit like a freightliner. Much the same could be said for opener “Call To the Mountain” but with catchier riffs and a faster tempo. But before we go much further let’s be brutally honest, with Matt Hyde’s snarled yelling vocals the rest of the band could literally play just about anything and it would sound heavier than lead. And his vocals make plenty of room for the rest of the band to experiment — jam even — while retaining their trademark beefy sound. Experiment they do on the campfire acoustic “The Devil Took Her”. Cleanly sung vocals, acoustic guitar, and a violin combine for the most soulful music of the band’s career. But also a complete out of nowhere moment, totally unexpected but a nice — albeit dark — surprise nonetheless.
“Black Days” rocks and moves like Red Fang on their best day but the title track is where all the experimentation throughout collides with the haunting heaviness the band is known for. It’s a doom and gloom plod that has a dark, emotive atmosphere and closes the album on a somewhat somber note. But make no mistake the band wrings every ounce of energy from this performance. The repeated lyrics here leave a feeling of pleading for something without ever getting the pleasure of a release, or a cliffhanger awaiting the next episode to find out what happens. With many listens to this album, the latter seems to be the most accurate even though this is the end of the trilogy. But the final release from the band surely this is not.
With all the chances taken throughout Death Of All Things, Beastwars have a third album full of creative songwriting and extremely catchy tunes. While this one may not match the straightforward riff centered and sludgy approach of their past work, it makes up for it in sheer intensity and absolutely unforgettable grooves. There’s equal parts noise, rock, metal, and a level of accessibility here that was missing previously but should by all accounts garner tons of new listeners. Hopefully with this album Beastwars will finally get the recognition they so deserve.