Hail and well met, friends! It’s been a hot minute since this column was live, but I’ve got the tunes and the libations, and I think they both deserve a place to be talked about. Let’s get into it. This week’s offerings: Wombbath’s Tales of Madness and Beachwood Brewing Company’s Hayabusa Lager.
The Tunes: Wombbath – Tales of Madness
Sweden’s Wombbath might not be the first name on people’s lips when they think of classic Swedeath, but they are nothing if not a staple in the genre, and this year they are celebrating their thirtieth anniversary with a specially rerecorded collection of tracks that span from the first Wombbath song ever written to the most recent Wombbath song ever written. Tales of Madness features deep cut tracks from 1992’s Brutal Mights EP and 1996’s Lavatory EP, the former of which was the band’s debut release, as well as unreleased tracks and two new offerings written just for this collection. Every track has been rerecorded with the band’s current lineup, with a modern update on the production and a focus on a tight sound quality. Truly, these cuts do an excellent job of capturing the overall Swedeath sound. There’s a distinctive guitar tone that is instantly recognizable as coming from that particular country, and it is absolutely at the forefront, along with all the classic hallmarks of the genre. Huge tremolo picked riffs, d-beat breakdowns, guttural vocals and eerie melodies are exactly what you’d expect, and it’s exactly what you get. For big fans of the band, hearing songs that go all the way back to their very early stages is certainly a treat. Probably the most amazing thing about Tales of Madness is just how similar the band’s old material and their earliest material sounds. Not that they haven’t evolved over time, but rather, it’s really something to hear just how ahead of the game Wombbath were when they were just starting out. Maybe there’s something about death metal that never goes out of style, but hearing “The Grave,” which is the first Wombbath song ever, and the newly written title track slap just as hard as each other is a testament to just how relevant Wombbath have always been to the conversation of Swedish death metal.
The Booze: Beachwood Brewing Company – Hayabusa Lager
Beachwood Brewing Company is not exactly local to me, but I’ve been on a kick of making Asian food at home, since that’s pretty much all I can do without risking my health or paying $30 in fees to Doordash just for some fried rice, and I thought that this sounded like an excellent pairing with something sweet and spicy. Boy, it sure is. I’ve had a fair bit of Japanese and Japanese-style lagers before, and there’s something in just how crisp and refreshing they are when they are ice cold. While this is technically a Japanese style lager, it’s made with American barely, Canadian pils, German hops and the signature toasted rice that give a little depth and sweetness to the finish. This is an easy drinking beer that is smooth, slightly sweet and perfectly complements big flavors without overpowering them. A little bitter up front, it finishes clean and it’s mellow without being watery or light on flavor. Is it a great choice for the middle of winter? Maybe not, but time has no meaning anymore and I can do what I want.
It’s good to be back with this. It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to drink that was worth sharing, and a new(-ish) Wombbath release should also be cause for celebration. Gotta celebrate any little thing we can. As always, cheers and be good to each other.