Beastwars ‘Tower of Skulls’ Release Tour
San Francisco Bath House, Cuba Street, Wellington, NZ
Friday 23 November 2012
Support for local heroes (and 2012 Taite Music Prize Finalists) Beastwars, came from Arc of Ascent and Von Thundersvolt – both of whom were sadly forgettable. (They have however convinced me to not make efforts to start my own stoner rock band, which Beastwars advancing years had inspired me to do, so a sensible purpose was served).
The ‘wars (as I expect no one calls them) were involved on a brief, four date mini-tour to promote their new single, ‘Tower Of Skulls bw/ The Sleeper’.
In the relatively short space of time since I first saw Beastwars opening for Fu Manchu (I also attended a gig where they opened for Kyuss in Wellington, though I arrived as they played their last note and similarly arrived too late to see them play at a Melvins/High On Fire) I have managed to acquire two rather fantastic Beastwars T-Shirts (one of which glows in the dark) and what I understand to be the sum and whole of their (albeit small) vinyl output.
Any speculation that I might have had whether my fanboy antics might be some sort of local team supporting instinct were pretty much blown out of the water, when Beastwars came on stage on Friday and were frankly, well, awesome.
The hometown gig confirmed my feelings that not only are Beastwars a great New Zealand band, but that they’d be a great band anywhere.
I’ve read somewhere the original blueprint for the band came from a conversation between their guitarist and drummer, whereby the speculated on whether a band with the riffs of Kyuss and the anthemic chorus’ of The Cult would work.
In short, it does, (though there’s a fairly large dose of Soundgarden in their sound as well).
Downtuned, sub-Sabbath guitars, (the band’s motto is, “obey the riff”), with Tool-esque time and key changes are the norm with vocalist Matt Hyde’s individual vocals varying from a worried whimper to all out bellowing, with the range particularly evident on (my favourite Beastwars track), ‘Mihi’.
(Mihi being a maori word that describes the formal speaking structure used during powhiri, or formal meeting).
The LP’s opener ‘Damn The Sky’, which came later in their set, is probably the bands catchiest song and was a clear audience favourite at the gig (complete with some Lee Renaldo style atonal guitar jangling that doesn’t appear on the recorded version).
The mini-tour was in support of the bands new single, ‘Tower of Skulls’ and I picked up a limited edition (171/200) glow in the dark vinyl 7” version. Both tracks add a Goth element to Beastwars stoner sound, and particularly the B-side ‘Sleeper’, was another corker live.
During a recent TV interview, Hyde commented that should the band win the Taite prize, that the $10,000 prize money would be put towards tickets to Europe to tour their album, which has now seen wider release on the UK’s Witchhunter Records.
It’s fingers crossed from me, because should these guys manage to get to something like HellFest to play, they’re sure to come away with a wider European audience.