Beastwars IV Album Launch, San Fran, Wellington 5 July 2019
We arrived late and just caught the end of End Boss. The diverse, good natured crowd was loving it and then awesome ockers Witchskull sent them over with a sound and presence that belied the size of the venue, and as Witchskull triumphantly left the stage the abstract LED backdrop lit up to reveal the headliner’s harbinger: IV.
Beastwars’ biggest hit Damn the Sky was a dynamic and driven way to smash open a show and would’ve also been an obvious encore.
For such hard sounding music, Storms on Mars is desperately vulnerable, honest and raw. I’m a dad to young kids and the feeling of leaving my kids one day tears at me even now, and it doesn’t get more personal than Storms on Mars’ plea for life to secure the wellbeing of those most loved.
The show closed with IV’s opener: Raise the Sword. The refrain ‘Breathe Long…’ is more mantra than chorus, and though the song acknowledges it’s burdens, it finds eventual strength. I was a little bereft that Bruno Lawrence’s Quiet Earth scientist wasn’t losing his mind in the middle as he does on the album. It’s a perfectly timed moment and adds another layer of confession. Some will hate me for this, but somewhere between the graveled vocal and the sword imagery I hear Queen’s Gimme the Prize in here. Raise the Sword is an instant anthem and needs to be heard everywhere.
This is a band who play to the Gods. Matt Hyde’s praying mantis repeatedly appeals to the sky, microphone aloft as a precious offering. More Shaman than showman, his stage presence is undeniable and given gravity with the experience of his illness.
Beastwars live are pure and primal. They’re communal and yet introspective. There’s as much peace and meditation here as any yogic retreat. Don’t fuck about. Go see them. Then just shut your eyes, obey the riff and you’ll understand what I mean.