Slaves to the Nothing

Bees are totally fuckin wild, man.

Yes, I’m one of those “SAVE THE BEES!” guys. They’re really fucking important! Yeah, they’ve got the stingy bits and everyone in my generation was scarred by the end of “My Girl” and blah blah yadda yadda WHATEVER. Sure, some folks have potentially deadly reactions to be stings. That sucks, and I’m sorry. BUT SEE THE FOREST THROUGH THE TREES, MAN! Did you know bees are largely responsible for pollenating nearly three quarters of the plants that produce 90% of the world’s food? Did you know honey, beeswax and honey bee venom are vital resources to the world healthcare system?! DID YOU?!

… ok, yeah sorry, got carried away with all that… Again… My point is, it’s amazing how such an amazing little creature can somehow fly so far under the radar despite insane zealots (moi) preaching their benefits. Case in point, here we have San Diego’s Beekeeper, a fuckin KILLER little trio out of San Diego who originally released this album in 2017, which I am only now finding out about as it’s being re-released on vinyl, cassette, and again on CD. AND WHAT A SWEET TREAT IT IS!

For any like me who were unfamiliar, Beekeeper, led by the super talented Ally Levine on vocals and guitar, attack with brand of both Bay Area and Euro thrash-based fury with a healthy dose of Death Metal thrown in the mix for some additional heft – at times with an angular, Death-like technicality, other times with a deep Bolt Thrower rumble, and other times still with a ferocious Vader onslaught. And just in case there wasn’t enough going on here, the band often and enthusiastically nods its collective head to the gods of Mercyful Fate and Angel Witch just to stuff the whole package with as much GODDAMN METAL as possible. All put together, this is clearly not a laid-back, reserved affair. Levine, along with bassist Adam Wollach and drummer Dylan Marks are like a damned NASCAR – tons of power and grit, relentless speed, no brakes, and lots of talent behind the wheel keeping everything from ending in a giant, chaotic fireball.

Levine really takes center stage on the record, deftly interweaving killer riffs at will while commanding your attention with a seething, energetic vocal attack – usually sticking to a signature raspy sneer, but throwing in a few guttural growls when occasion calls, and every so often throwing down a few King Diamond falsettos. She even busts out some very Morgan Landers-ish (Kittie) crooning on certain tracks (see fourth track, “Vegeta”) that take you somewhat by surprise but offer an effective change of pace. All of this is made even more impressive considering the extremely busy and inspired fretwork on display. Look no further than the previously mentioned track, or other standout thrashers like the very Slayer-inspired “Kamel Krusher” or breakneck “Instant Death” to find ample evidence, while more plodding bruisers like personal-favorites “Subservient Submission” and “Picket Fence Death Night” show off an ability to change up the pace and throw down different playing styles at a moment’s whim, often – as is the case on the latter – all in the same song. All killer, no filler – not a single dud to be found on the entire record.

But while she may command the bulk of your attention (and rightfully so), Levine’s cohorts are certainly no friggin’ slouches themselves – in particular, drummer Kylan Marks deserves a ton of praise for keeping the whole intricate exercise glued together. Whatever speed, direction or style she goes, Marks is right there keeping up perfectly in time with just the right backdrop. Similarly, while I’d love to hear the bass even a little more pronounced, it’s certainly not buried, and the bass lines from Adam Wollach are spot on – keeping pace with everything going on. Final track “Trials of the Shredder,” is perhaps the ultimate example of just how tight the trio are in sync with one another. With all its sharp changes and progressions, any one of them could be forgiven for a missed note or beat, but everything is held together tight as the skin on Donny Osmond’s face.

So once again, I’ve found myself in the awkward position of discovering an act that has been around well long enough that I should have stumbled upon them before now. I’m useless. But once again, better late than never, right? Even better, I JUST recently got my hands on an old cassette player of mine while on a trip home to my Ma’s place – providing a perfect opportunity to take advantage of these new re-releases. Whether your preference is vinyl, cassette or CD, I can’t recommend enough that you check the link below, and get your mitts on this album – whether you’re a new fan like me or you’ve already gotten to know these beautiful bee people. Join the swarm!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
May 11th, 2021


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