Within this past week, I was given a few hints and tips of upcoming bands within the alternative music spectrum. Most I had heard of, a couple I had no knowledge of. Beastmilk was one of them.
Upon a personal request through a friend of mine, he lent me the album to listen to saying that it is ‘a breath of fresh air’. Of course, when anyone says that this is totally original or something that is not being done by many other artists at the moment, I tend to take that with a pinch of salt as I am always let down with the monotonous disappointment of the ‘same shit, different band’ sort of deal. On this rare occasion, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
So, who are the epically named Beastmilk? Well…
Beastmilk are a self-proclaimed ‘apocalyptic death-rock’ band from the cold heart of Finland (part of the Scandinavian lands to which most amazing music seems to be stemming from lately). They formed in 2010 and released a demo called ‘White Stains On Black Tape’ to critical acclaim. Since then, it seems that they have been slow rising underground whisper which is just about to break out in to bigger circles.
So fast forward to late November 2013, and they released their debut album ‘Climax’ via Svart Records in Europe / UK, and Magic Bullet in the USA. So… how do I sum up this album upon first listen? Quite simply put… “YES!”.
Firstly, I got to tip my hat off to the songwriting element of this album. it seems that Beastmilk take all the best elements from 1980’s new wave / post-punk along the lines of Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, Nick Cave, The Cure, and Joy Division, and stain it with the dark heart of gothic rock in the vein of Sisters Of Mercy, Killing Joke, and The Cult. But with this there is like a modern punk element to it (from the likes of Turbonegro or The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster) which acts like the heartbeat at the very centre of it all.
There are many attributes to the excellent songwriting which lean and nod heavily to these influences, but Beastmilk manage to make it their own sound without actually sounding cliche or pretentious.
Songs like ‘The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls’, and album highlight ‘Genocidal Crush’ are rifftastic slabs of death-rock perfection which are instantly catchy beyond belief, and could make even the most basic of listeners sing along by the second chorus.
Other songs like the achingly gorgeous (and other album highlight) ‘Ghosts Out Of Focus’ is a sheer demonstration in how to write a sublime yet haunting ballad that will stick with you for a good while after. Vocalist Kvhost’s displays a tender yet beautiful vocal range which propels him as a true talent in being an actual singer. Yes, there is a difference between a vocalist and a singer.
With the likes of the mosh-tastic ‘Fear Your Mind’ are a great example of how the awesomely named guitarist Goatspeed, bassist Arino, and drummer Paile work as a solid and tight rhythm unit without losing any momentum whatsoever.
The album closer however is just terrific. ‘Strange Attractors’ sounds like a composition that the likes of The Horrors only wish they could pull off with such ease and effectiveness.
Now I got to give absolute props to the production on this album. A name that you may recognise, Kurt Ballou (Converge) produced this album at his very own God City Studios. Kurt has also been responsible for producing some of last years most critically acclaimed albums as well (‘Meir’ by Kvelertak, anyone?). The style of production used for Beastmilk‘s sound actually gels perfectly. As well as capturing the ‘live’ feel and the carefully constructed reverb touches which make for a more stadium like sound as well as providing a brooding and haunting atmospheric, it almost gives the album a slightly Rockabilly feel in terms of production (particularly the vocals). but it also captures the elements of what was mentioned earlier with the sonic qualities of early post-punk / new wave / gothic rock.
I would probably say that the only weak point with this album is its inability to be boldly daring with musical experimentation, and its reliability on capturing the essence of times and genres of old. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, because Beastmilk make this in to a sound of their own and execute it with absolute class and style.
Probably the only other personal thing I can point out is whilst every song on this album is great, there are a couple of songs that do not quite stick out as much as the others (‘Nuclear Winter’ in particular).
But I would probably say that the biggest upset for me about this album, is that I did not check out anytime sooner in 2013, otherwise this would have automatically made my top 10 of the year.
Overall, Beastmilk have given us an absolutely beautiful masterclass in musical precision and rawness, excellent songwriting skills with memorable effectiveness, and left us with arguably one of the most overlooked and underrated albums I feel that I have personally heard in years. A sheer joy to listen to from start to finish (no Scandinavian based pun intended there). Make sure you catch these guys on tour with Doomriders in May of this year in the UK / Europe, this could be your chance to see them before they break from the underground and poison the hearts of a greater audience with their brilliant apocalyptic death-rock.