New Zealand’s answer to the stoner doom of High on Fire and Conan, Beastwars are releasing their appropriately titled fourth album, IV for the mass consumption of these Oceanic orations of misery.
After firing out of the gate on their 2011 debut, the band considerably changed their direction, the pounding doom seemingly replaced by stoner rock on Blood Becomes Fire and The Death of All Things. Will IV change that direction, or will the band go further down this rabbit hole?
There is certainly Bongzilla levels of distortion on “This Mortal Decay” as a showing of good doom faith and the album opens with “Raise The Sword” which displays vocalist Matthew Hyde as if he were Jus Osborn of Electric Wizard with echoed vocals, backed only by James Woods’ ample and plodding bass.
The band is digging at their own roots and it shows here; they aren’t afraid to get down and dirty vocally or with Clayton Anderson’s fat guitar riffs to pace the album along at a mid-tempo (by the genre’s standards) pace.
IV is a solid doom effort played by some well-versed musicians and can easily be seen as the second best album after the band’s powerful self-titled debut and an album that points the band back in the right direction. As one of New Zealand’s premiere metal exports, Beastwars may find themselves back on the international map with a solid stoner doom effort, but this is a much more crowded field than it was during the time of their debut; wading through this subgenre’s pool of mucky sludge is a much more difficult one than before.
The band needs to do a bit more to help distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack in the future, but there is certainly hope for that. Solid 2019 doom from a bunch of crazy Kiwis.
(released June 28, 2019 on Destroy Records)