These days, it can no longer be said that New Zealand bands aren’t living up to their international counterparts. Although our local scene is still small and incestuous, the quality of releases and
Beastwars are a Wellington four-piece who have been regarded for a long time as one of the best local acts. Why? Well, one listen to their 2011 self-titled 2011 debut and you want to get your ass down here and experience them for yourself. Beastwars take the heavy, filth-laden stoner/sludge sound and infuse it with their own blend of killer riffage and fuzzed-out glory. The production on this album is quite clean, leaving room to appreciate the full, gut-wrenching bass, the rich guitar and the distinctive hunging drawl of vocalist Matt Hyde. If you’re looking for stoner metal with a more upbeat, rocky feel, ala the best of Kyuss, then Beastwars won’t disappoint. There’s little focus on flashy guitar effects here, just on simple riffs, bare sound, songs fleshed-out with heavy bass and drawn-back drumming, and a stunning vocal performance that propels Beastwars into the dimension of being really fucking good.
Standout songs on Beastwars include “Cthulhu” and the evocatively evil “Call Out the Dead”. The opener, “Damn the Sky” introduces the leaden pace of the album and the slow, downtuned riffage of “Midi” shows just how Beastwars corrupt and twist the concept of “groove”.
They have supported some top quality international bands (the Melvins, High on Fire, Kyuss Lives, Fu Manchu), and are playing shows in Wellington and (hopefully) Auckland this year. You can stream or purchase Beastwars the album from the Beastwars Bandcamp, which I highly encourage you to do. Lend these blokes some support!
These guys have been bleeding out their unique blend of chaotic thrash-inspired black metal since 2004, and with the recent release of their 2012 EP, Sacrifice, Perish and Demise, they’re <>. Maybe it’s just because I’m on a huge occult metal binge lately, but for me this has been one of the eagerly awaited local releases of the year. And the fact that these guys are gearing up to release a full-length album before the year is out fills my little boots with joy.
The band consists of Santi and Black Mortum on guitars, Scourge on vocals, Hades on drums and Assailant on bass, and their sound reminds me most of the pitiless chaos of bands like Absu, at once both destructive and utterly enthralling, or the raw, primal chaos of Impiety (who they’ll be opening for next week). The influence of Venom can be heard dripping from every blistering riff, so it is fitting that the EP ends with a cover of “Black Metal”. My personal favorite on the EP is “Ancestor’s Call”, where Hades’ precision and primal drumming lend an auro of religious deference to this unrelenting onslaught of satanic madness. That’s closely followed by “Exordium Mors” – which appear on an earlier demo and has been re-recorded to it’s credit – assaults the listener with layer after layer of rich, intoxicating thrash, tied up with an impressive vocal display and an energy that seems to reach other through the speakers.
New Zealand does this brand of occult war-cult death/black metal extremely well, and Exordium Mors are, in my opinion anyway, some of the best of the best we have to offer. And they seriously go off live. I’m looking forward to seeing them open for Impiety and Goatwhore in Wellington next week.
Heavy Metal Ninjas
You know with a name like “Heavy Metal Ninjas”, it’s going to be good. Well, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The Ninjas formed in Auckland in 2010 after years of jam sessions, the band features brothers Stu and Fran from popular local band Kora on guitar and bass, and Richie Allan – a Steff-proclaimed guitar virtuoso and conceiver of some of the most fascinating compositions known to man. Joe Brownless on drums rounds out the sound.
There are no vocals, because … well, when you are this awesome, who needs them? The Ninjas have been playing across the country, opening for Shihad on their 2010 Killjoy tour, and giving a stunning performance of the winning classical composition at last year’s APRA awards. They create layered, cinematic soundscapes that draw you in slowly, unwary, like a ninja waiting to pounce, before delivering a wall of sonic awesomeness that catches you completely by surprise. I’m told – since I haven’t yet seem them live (soon to be remedied – they have a tour in August) – that they play their unique, soul-wrenching instrumental masterpieces dressed as ninjas and shoot laser beams from their fingers, but I’m not going to believe it till I see it.
The Ninjas turn traditional metal on it’s head with progressive structures, fascinating compositions, melody on top of melody and evocative orchestrations. Each song tells a story, from beginning to end, with all the plot twists you need to make Stephen King weep.
There is a shit-ton more awesome New Zealand bands, and I’m going to be profiling a lot more in weeks to come. In the meantime,