Wellington’s Mighty Mighty last night became a seething mass of metallers, with local sludge fanatics Beastwars providing an apocalyptic soundtrack that nearly left the crowd in a state of physical and mental destruction.
Usually catering to the more sedate sounds of indie hipsters, the bar may have been unprepared for the onslaught of bogans, stoners and general weirdoes, my own bad self included, that seem to accompany Beastwars wherever they go.
Arriving halfway through openers Spook the Horses (having missed Viking Weed thanks to the inability of David Tua to finish his fight to my schedule) I was shocked to see how full the bar was already; I visit Mighty Mighty most weekends and have never seen it this packed. Having heard that Beastwars had managed to fill up Bar Bodega earlier in the year, a much bigger venue, I was surprised to hear that they were playing this smaller venue.
The crowd were getting right into Spook the Horses, with their bass-laden riffs and doomy vocals – the perfect warm up for the main act. If you haven’t heard them before they’ve got a couple of demos floating around on their Bandcamp page. If you’re a fan of the sort of ambient, gloomy, plodding rock that Jakob, Isis and Red Sparrowes are known for then you’ll probably enjoy this Wellington four piece.
During the break between bands the crowd seemed to swell; a seemingly endless stream of people flowed through the doors. Wanting to secure a good position for Beastwars I made my way to the front of the stage while most of the crowd were clamouring for attention at the bar.
At first everything seemed calm. Beastwars jumped on stage, started playing and people watched peacefully. But then a change came over the crowd. People started pushing, started jumping around. Bodies were flying everywhere, lighting equipment was falling over, the floor felt like it was going to cave in, and the band just kept pushing us all onwards.
Fearing for my safety (or more specifically, the safety of my camera gear) I retreated to a safer vantage point. Watching from further back it was impressive to see the energy of the band, particularly that of singer Matt Hyde, and to watch that be picked up by the audience. It made a fine change from having an impassive audience staring motionless at a band.
At the end of the set the crowd loudly demanded an encore and were rewarded with a return to the stage for another 10 minutes of sweaty heavy metal. It’s clear to see that Beastwars have been building a loyal following and if they keep playing shows like this one then that fanbase should continue to swell.
New Zealand sludge metal four-piece Beastwars abide by one steadfast maxim: Obey the Riff. Described as "a mongrel mix of Kyuss, Neurosis, and the mighty Godflesh..." (NZ Herald) and playing "heavy tunes for heavy times" (ALARM), the Wellington-based sonic soothsayers utilize the chaos that engulfs our world as ammunition for their defiant howls into the abyss.
Two years on from their internationally acclaimed, self-titled debut, Beastwars return on 20 April 2013 with Blood Becomes Fire. The new album serves witness to the end of days, told through the eyes of a dying traveler from another time. It is a work inspired by eternal themes. "It's a reflection on mortality, death and disease. Sooner or later they come for all of us and we've all screamed to the gods for answers, not that they've ever come."
On Blood Becomes Fire Beastwars hammer the story home with concussive force. "It’s a heavy album, both sonically and lyrically, but what solidifies it are the really triumphant 'fuck yeah' riffs. To us, this music is like getting psyched up to go into battle. You could be at war with someone else or yourself.”