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Review: Beastmilk Astonish With ‘Climax’

Helsinki’s post-apocalyptic sons deliver a stunning contender for best album of the year.

Beastmilk

I have no real idea how to write about this album. Climax, the new record from Helsinki’s Beastmilk, is the weirdest damn thing I’ve heard in a long time. It takes elements from the more romantic, new wave sounds of the 80s, but never comes off as a nostalgia act. Beastmilk’s guitars are alive with bits of Siouxsie and The Banshees, Misfits and Cramps, but folded within structures straight from angry Echo And The Bunnymen, Joy Division and Bauhaus. I feel like I’m sixteen, sitting in my room in the dark listening to music. At the same time it’s completely modern. What the fuck?

I will say this; the opening jam “Death Reflects Us” has a guitar line that bares more than a passing resemblance to Morrissey’s “First Of The Gang To Die”. The rest of the jam isn’t Morrissey influenced; it’s too dark and elemental for that. It could be Smiths though, if The Smiths ventured into darker pop territory and hired Danzig to belt out tunes for them. Truth be told, if Danzig heard “Death Reflects Us” he’d probably kick kitty litter all over the place out of sheer jealousy.

I loved The Road Warrior, and if I had to pick an end credits song for the movie, I’d go with “Death Blows Through Their Skulls”. Is there such a thing as post-apocalyptic rock? If not, here it is. Beastmilk go huge all the way through this jam. Big guitars, playing against big drums and rattling bass. The riff here is catchy and eerily despondent. Making sure “Death Blows Through Their Skulls” keeps its apocalyptic view, even through the catchiness, vocalist Kvhost bellows out a gorgeous, lush string of words that was born to make men raise glasses of beer and women drop their panties.

Not wanting to make things easy, Beastmilk slide into their version of a love song, one that is the very definition of Goth before it became stupid, trivial, and sold at Hot Topic as just another youth commodity. “Genocidal Crush”, besides being a fantastic song title, is a dark, moody, love song, with a nice twist of insanity to it, and a big, catchy chorus. “Genocidal Crush” is the song the ladies scream along to at the arena. “You Are Now Under Our Control” gives birth to a hybrid, a bastard child of brooding, melancholy, new wave and bold, groove driven punk.

“Ghosts Out Of Focus” shifts gears again for Beastmilk. Built on slow drums, and stagnant chord strikes, “Ghosts Out Of Focus” is epic, a grand music bed made even more fantastic by Kvhost’s vocals. I’ll be honest, between “Ghosts Of Focus” and the song “Love In A Cold War”, Climax sags a little. The sounds the band use are huge, and exciting, but also very similar. “Ghosts Out Of Focus” is a great song, but a wall for the energy of the album. It takes Climax a few tunes to find it’s footing again.

Once it does, the home stretch is wonderful. Again, the effective sound is owed to Kurt “Is There Anything This Guy Can’t Do” Ballou. Ballou understands the band perfectly, and captures their sound with razor precision. Climax is a room album, a record where the band’s sound is echoed off of walls and bounced through massive open spaces. It allows the sounds to be enormous, to grow into monolithic slabs of guitars, drums and bass. The simplistic writing style of Beastmilk, met with this kind of room tone, gives Climax something that is both massive and extremely personal. Oh Mr. Ballou, you’ve done it again!

Beastmilk has entered the battle for my top album of 2013 with a machete. An astonishing debut.

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