The band that put New Zealand on the doom-metal map is back with their fourth full-length effort. IV sees Beastwars return with another platter of raw, visceral, doom/sludge, clocking in just shy of 38 minutes.
“Raise the Sword” comes rumbling out of the gate, with a rough-and-tumble riff a la slow-mo High on Fire. Verses are more sparse and vocal-driven, but the main riff will definitely get yer noggin noddin’. “Wolves and Pray” lurches out of the gate with some solid stop-start riffage, descending to a subtle chug for the first verse before returning with a vengeance on the chorus. “Storms of Mars” is a little more up-tempo, although they also seem to dial back the distortion, giving this tune sort of a Neurosis vibe—which is further reinforced by the tribal drumming/spoken word section that starts around the 2:30 mark.
“This Mortal Decay” is anchored by a Pentagram-ish trad doom riff, although these sandpaper vocals are a far cry from Bobby Liebling. Pre-release single “Omens” hits like an All-Blacks rugby scrum at its heaviest, although the light verse/heavy chorus dynamic remains intact, before taking more of a post-metal turn down the stretch. That sinister sneer takes centre stage on “Like Dried Blood,” which is the closest thing to a ballad you’ll find on here, with a piano-driven intro and initial verse. I know the vocals have always been a unique aspect of this outfit… but why feature them so prominently when the guy can’t really sing?