Heathen Beast

Transcending Obscurity delivers again with this compilation release from pox-stricken, West Bengal black metal lunatics Heathen BeastTrident collects the band’s three EP releases into a full-length serving that’s easily some of the sickest, rawest black metal I’ve heard in a quite bit.  Fans that worship the rotten side of the style like Darkthrone, Burzum, Damnation and Craft will lick their lips over the scraping, high-end vomit the band pukes upon the listener.  This is a blessing for me because the nastier, godless side of the genre is what suits me best and I’m not much for the symphonic side unless it’s ugly and gnarled like Dissection or Dionysus (and this band may appeal to fans of that pair as well).

Lyrically, Heathen Beast is steeped into the dark side of India’s historical underbelly with the song’s telling specific stories about a number of topics (God fearin’ listeners will run for the hills!).  I’m going to spare you a regurgitated history lesson and focus on the music.  “Blind Faith” oozes like slime from the speakers with an exotic, melodic lead lick set to a backdrop of tom-laden drum fills that eventually settle into a begotten, desolation doom stomp.  It’s a demonically deliberate build-up that ratchets up into nefarious double-bass ballast (with even the bass being audible!).  Once the atmosphere is properly conjured, you best bunker yourself into a hole that can withstand a nuclear bombing because this shit turns into a crusty onslaught of needle-jabbing speed riffs, vaporizing blast beats and gloriously scummy melodicism.  There’s denser grooves that fester like hellish death metal congealing into noxious pools of fetid, shit-stink mid-tempo dirge while vocalist/guitarist Carvaka screams and screeches through a fog of slight distortion that makes for a DIY, rehearsal room feel across the board.

These sickos put off some serious heat for a three-piece and the constant tempo switches in addition to the penchant for hateful, unadulterated heaviness practically ensures there’s never a dull moment.  Sparing its audience any sort of introduction, “Religious Genocide” coils n’ quickly strikes with the venom of a million rattlesnakes in a relentless onslaught of mincing rape riffs, decimating double-bass poison, pinched noise guitar and piss-splashed vocal pestilence.  Hopefully, you have a strong constitution because these fuckers never halt the pace for even a second.  Clean guitar/bass pulsations punctuate the sublime intro of “Ayodhya Burns (the first EP’s title cut)” with whispered vocal rasps and even keyboards rendering the early going a highly esoteric affair drenched in opaque melody.  A cataclysmic scream spirals the music into a stew-thick riff gruel that tips a hat to Celtic Frost’s critical mass density.  The riffing delves into exquisite Eastern melodies while dabbling in more measured pacing, yet never loses the over the top intensity that Heathen Beast made their calling card from the starting gun shot.

The second EP, The Drowning of the Elephant God leads in with the title track and the band sacrifices none of the raw atmosphere for the increased production ethics and musical progression that often comes with age.  The drums might be slightly more produced but you can hardly tell.  Precision riffs are a ticket to instant whiplash as they stop, start and change direction wildly from pure blackened hatred to thrash and towering doom with a unique slant reckoning of traditional Indian music.  Heathen Beast truly put a spin on the style that’s all of their own.  This particular tune has enough unbridled mayhem on hand to please the meanest black metal purist, yet it constantly toys with strangled melodic textures and doom-y riffs where every note, chord and arrangement sticks to the craw.  “Contaminating the Ganges” rumbles with hand percussion, melodic guitar-work and abyssal bass lines that plunge endlessly into the unknown.  Barely contained, high-end guitar shred pushes the limit of abrasiveness as much as it plows through harmonic progressions that starkly contrast the machine gun vocal sprays.  That mid-tempo, death knell thrashing usurps everything in its path, balancing gleefully between order and disorder in a way that shouldn’t work but does!  The tribal percussion crescendos return in “Bakras to the Slaughter,” dancing around a sky high pyre of surgical blackened thrash flames and pulse-stopping, low-hung blast beats.  Dirt-blasted doom churns return in the cut’s later stages, smashing your eardrums out your asshole via amplified tonnage that knows how to use its girth as a weapon of mass destruction.

After a three year break, the third EP is pretty new still, having been released earlier in 2015.  A sampled speech kicks off “The Carnage of Godhra” and soon the trio lays into the semi-melodic riff maelstrom with cycling arpeggios bashing heads against dueling black/death vocals and percussion both standard and tribal.  Those Eastern lead guitar licks drip with fervor and heatstroke fever, giving drummer Mimasa plenty of room to lay down a crumbling double-bass pattern.  Though hardly a slick, major label recording job, the production on this EP is probably the most pronounced the band has had to date.  The blast sections are absolutely leveling in their volume and the scorching, tremolo napalm holds its own in the drumming’s city burning shadow.  As I listened more and more to the release, I became an even bigger fan of the vocals.  They don’t pull any tricks or bullshit, it’s just the exact kind of rabid dry lung abandon that such violent music necessitates.  Another sample is utilized to stoke the ashes of “Ab Ki Baar, Atyachar,” which is a ruthless cutthroat blast-feast with some of the wildest riffing and time signature curveballs in the band’s catalog.  Shambling, misshapen slowdowns maintain weight where lesser bands would stumble, though they are in the minority of a screaming mad, black metal territory war.  And what the fuck is that in the background?  Is that a flute or didgeridoo or keyboard?  I can’t quit make it out…  Closer “Gaurav Yatra (The Aftermath)” is another helping of health detrimental, blackened blast carnage not approved by the FDA.  Heathen Beast continuously prove that they are far from a one trick pony by incorporating some of the most melody-intensive guitar work of their entire pantheon into this destruction hymn…my ears are hearing an Iron Maiden-ish quality to the soaring, 6-string transcendence and it was surely a spectacle for the ears to behold.

Trident is the perfect pick-up for mugs like me who have missed out on the entirety of Heathen Beast’s output.  The way the EPs are recorded/played sees them sitting very comfortably alongside each other, as if they were meant to be compiled into a full-length one day and that day is now.  It’s without question that this is easily a new favorite in my black metal diet.  Whenever I get some money you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be picking up a hard copy.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
December 9th, 2015


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