Published on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 21:19
Album title: Climax
Release date: 29 November 2013
Label: Svart Records
01. Death Reflects Us
02. The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls
03. Genocidal Crush
04. You Are Now Under Our Control
05. Ghosts Out Of Focus
06. Nuclear Winter
07. Fear Your Mind
08. Love In A Cold World
09. Surf The Apocalypse
10. Strange Attractors
Much has been written about Beastmilk's debut album Climax, though it's available since barely a month. Such is the magnitude of this rising phenomenon, springed from Helsinki over three years ago. Their previous singles, "White Stains On Black Tape" and "Use Your Deluge", already caught the attention from all around the underground scene. Beastmilk's signature crossover of early post-punk, deathrock and goth on one hand, and psychedelic rock, post rock and, pretty much diluted, black metal influences on the other - since the lead singer Mat 'Kvohst' McNerney was involved in Dødheimsgard and Code - fits as a meeting point among all these styles and, thereby, it has impressed a broad and eclectic audience.
Echo And The Bunnymen, Danzig, Killing Joke, Crisis, The Cure, Joy Division... the list of spectres lurking mind while listening to Climax will be endless. While it's true that they dissolve away in seconds, absorbed by the Finns' own personality. Certainly, Beastmilk manages to push the gloom boundaries, dropping the songs' mercury below zero and recapturing the retro melodic splendour. Relatively speaking, they do this in a similar way to modern acts like Soror Dolorosa - despite the obvious disparities between them. Track titles like "The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls" or "You Are Now Under Our Control" are great examples of this ardient, yet icy, rock form. Percussion is tribal and propels the songs in a pounding duo with the assertive bass. Guitar figures slip through fissures in the rhythmical wall, ranging from anxiety-inducing solos to jagged and gritty chords. There is also an exciting vox gaming which alternates between baritones and dramatic moans, even on the same track. Both tunes, along with the closer "Strange Attractors" - featuring Occultation's female singer Viveca on vocals, make up the album's dreamy triangle. Particularly, the 'dying world' theme of the album so soaks into this song that you can feel the crooners' grief as if it was yours. There's something ominous simmering beneath the entire repertoire and great credit is due to the skilfully gritty production of Kurt Ballou, well-known in the hardcore circuits. Even though when the accelerator is depressed and the length shortened, those feelings still linger on the frigid ambiances. Just check out onslaughts of guitars, drums and bass like "Surf The Apocalypse", "Nuclear Winter" or "Fear Your Mind" and you will get what I mean. Indeed, Beastmilk doesn't go far wrong when they classify themselves as an 'apocalyptic post-punk' ensemble.
Another reason why the band's alchemy works is the chamaleonic voice of the singer. Kvhost has the ability to channel rage, despondency and paranoia without any loss of directness. He can turn from the depressive Ian Curtis-like depression to the Robert Smith's histrionics, or call to war in a Danzig-style while holding together all the sections and bringing credibility to the lyrics' imaginary. Emotional and forceful at the same time, Climax sounds as the painful war-cry of the eternally doomed would does, soaring into a radiactive sky. Beastmilk's ice will burn your bowels.
Review written by: Billyphobia (Virus G)