The glittering technological future we were all promised has turned into a dystopian nightmare. If music must reflect the times, the hour has plainly come to reject the mainstream status quo and get down to the roots and rhythms of life’s elemental heaviness. And that’s where Beastmaker come in. Purveyors of some of the most ecstatically thunderous and raw doom metal to emerge in decades, this three-man riffing machine from Fresno, California, are manifestly the real deal. Their sound is instantly recognisable and yet thrillingly otherworldly, like all your favourite riffs fed through some perverse malevolent prism and reborn in fresh, overdriven grotesquery.
“When I describe what we do to do people that don’t know about us I like to say if Danzig and Black Sabbath had a child of darkness it would be Beastmaker,” says vocalist and guitarist Trevor Church. “I’ve always wanted to express my love for horror films through music, so you could say it was planned, but it took some natural evolution to figure out what works.”
Bursting into the consciousness of the world’s doom hordes with their debut EP You Must Sin in 2015 and debut album Lusus Naturae the following year (both via Rise Above Records), Beastmaker have already won over countless converts, not least with an extensive European Tour in 2016 with label mates Blood Ceremony, climaxing with a much-praised appearance at the hallowed Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland. Voted ‘Best emerging metal band’ by MetalAssault.com and among 2016’s Top 10 doom releases by Cvltnation.com that same year, they hit the ground running and earned a formidable reputation as a crushing live act.
But while they may superficially appear to servants of a strict Sabbathian code, there is plenty of room for manoeuvre within the band’s titanic sound. The result of this feverish desire to expand their sonic universe is new album Inside The Skull, a bruising tour-de-force of sinister riffs, skewed blues and looming horror, it is simply one of the heaviest and most mesmerising albums you will hear in 2017, replete with a special cameo or two.
“In my opinion we’ve gotten heavier,” states Trevor. “Really our only goal in evolving is to get heavier and obviously improve our playing abilities. As for surprises, Johanna from Lucifer joined us on a couple tracks and Nate from Salem’s Pot also joins us on a track. The band brings a lot of the heaviness to the table. Andy [Saldate] is just barbaric behind the drums. John [Tucker, bassist] always lays down a solid heavy tone. There are many things that inspire the riffs. Our studio is covered with collectible horror memorabilia, so I’ll smoke some weed, look at my posters and boom, a riff is born!”
From the old school evangelism of opener Evil One and the warped psychedelia of Now Howls The Beast through to the twisted fury and fire of Psychic Visions and creepy closer Sick Sick Demon, Inside The Skull is not just a muscular hymn to the glory days of heavy metal’s genesis and early prosperity: this is a vital, virile and venomous slab of wildly creative but spiritually pure doom devastation, designed to rescue us from the drab harshness of present day reality and transport us somewhere cooler, somewhere better and, in the best way possible, somewhere much heavier. Recorded and produced by the band themselves, in their own self-built studio, it’s an album with great depths and a macabre heart.
“The title track is about acquiring eternal life,” Trevor explains. “There is always a price to pay it seems in life to get to the next level. You get that promotion, and more responsibilities come. So in this concept, to achieve this eternal life, you are confined to live inside your skull, literally in solitude. There is no happy ending but death cannot touch you. In general I try to keep our music horror inspired but there is also a Hitchcock-esque song called Night Bird. It’s about a woman that gets her rocks off by poisoning her lovers. I have the same birthday as Hitchcock so I’ve always felt a connection to his films…”
While they may be revelling in Hitchcockian disquiet, Beastmaker will not be lurking anonymously in the shadows for long. Once Inside The Skull is released, the band will be hitting the road in the US with Zakk Wylde’s Black Sabbath tribute act, Zakk Sabbath, before the band’s campaign to draw the world into this unique maelstrom of pitch-black riffs and morbid tales begins in earnest. Erupting from the underground, this beast is alive and ready to howl.
“We have a few more tours that I can’t really say anything about yet but come autumn time we will be doing another US tour that is pure evil!” Trevor concludes. “We’re still working out the details for a European tour as well. I think most of 2017 is really plotted out. We just hope that people enjoy the hard work and dedication that it takes to keep underground music alive and well for many years to come.”
Dom Lawson, 2017