Beastmilk – Climax (Svart Records, 2013)

Beastmilk Climax cover

There are few things that please me more right now than this resurgence we’re currently seeing in the gothic sounds of the 1980s within the realm of heavy music.  It appears that metal musicians have taken a shining to the the stuff of late, or maybe they’re getting bored with metal, or perhaps they always had it and are only now allowing themselves to cut loose and release the bats.  Whatever the case, Helsinki’s Beastmilk are absolutely killing it with their debut album, Climax.

Metalheads will recognize British vocalist Kvohst from his time spent in such forward thinking heavy bands as Code and Dødheimsgard, but here he’s an all together different, uh, beast, channeling a compelling mix of Peter Murphy, Ian Curtis and Morrissey on tracks like “Death Reflects Us” “Genocidal Crush” and “Surf the Apocalypse.”  There’s a rich history of great UK vocalists to be mined when it comes to this style, and Kvohst brings a little bit of each to the table without sounding exactly like any of them, making for one of the year’s most thoroughly enjoyable performances.

As for the music, it’s a darkly shimmering mix of Joy Division’s driving post punk and the aforementioned Sisters of Mercy’s knack for crafting ridiculously catchy guitar-driven gothic rock.  That said, Beastmilk are more than the sum of their influences, bringing their own sexy swagger to the music and displaying an exceptional aptitude for cranking out an album’s worth of three minute ear-worms like it’s no big deal.  Every song here has a hook ranging from good to brilliant; sure, some are better than others, but all ten have the potential to lodge themselves in your skull with no filler in sight.

In that last paragraph I threw out the word “sexy,” and indeed, there’s something about Beastmilk’s music that just might set the ol’ loins ablaze under the right circumstances, something sensual at work here that’s tough to put a finger on, you just feel it.  It’s probably got something to do with the fact that these songs both rock and are downright danceable, toeing the line between goth club dance floor seduction and punk rock “fuck on the floor and break shit” to varying degrees depending on the track.  In a time when music is either utterly sexless (pretty much all heavy metal) or blatantly sexual (pretty much all pop music), it’s refreshing to hear something that’s the equivalent of a come-hither look with intentions that aren’t totally clear.

When albums come out so late in the year, there’s always a danger that they’ll get lost in the shuffle, but Climax is a downright excellent album that deserves your attention amidst all the year-end lists and assorted hoopla.  Fans of the classic bands mentioned in this review will find much to enjoy, given Beastmilk’s expert craftsmanship, and those novices looking to get into this style will find an album that’s catchy and accessible in the best way possible.

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