There is only so much that one person can take. Apply enough pressure, be it physically or emotionally, and that a person is bound to crack along some biologically predetermined fault line. Inevitably a person’s choices in art, musical or otherwise, will have an effect on that pressure in that it either lessens or strengthens the burden. That is why people tend to diversify their tastes. Balance, especially in regard to our daily choices of consumption, is crucial to a healthy mental and physical state.
Listening to only dark, oppressive music could lead to a depressed mental state causing those around you to suffer from both your constant lashing out and from their worry about your spiraling state of mental health. Contrastingly, only listen to bright, happy music and you could easily be labeled a psychopath and feared by those around you who fear a forthcoming violent mental collapse.
The genre of doom is no different. It’s a living breathing organism that requires equal parts Candlemass, Skepticism, Giant Squid and Beastmaker to evolve. There are times appropriate for beautiful tenor tracks about the fate of the downtrodden just as there are appropriate times for harsh vocals and long, epic tracks. Well, there are also times in life that call for more progressive takes on the genre and themes of ancient societies festooning a channel of islands in a long forgotten sea as much as there are times for good ole fashioned doom-inspired rock and roll about love and moonlight and emotional hurricanes. And that, the last one, is where Beastmaker somewhat surprisingly now comes in.
Harmonized guitars sing out with shockingly bright production as the title track kicks off this delightful little EP. As the track drops into its marching rhythm a complimentary, the main riff supports layered vocals laced with reverb and aching for a sing along. A guitar solo catapults itself over thick chords before the verse comes right back with that infectious hook. The track is simple, formulaic and relatively short at just over three minutes. Standing out are the subtle touches like the bass vocals that underscore the much higher lead delivery. This is a trend that continues throughout the EP marking the band’s vocal talent and providing a thick, balanced take on vocals.
Also standing out across these little seventeen minutes are what’s lacking. For starters, there are no samples. No spoken word passages about the devil or witches or anything of the occult. Also missing is the fuzzy, velvety sheen swathing the production in a soft hum that feels analog and timeless. While this style was hinted at on EP. 9 and EP. 10 those short jaunts retained the occult feeling and spooky hollow of Beastmaker past. Eye of the Storm strips all that away to make an EP that is more in your face production-wise, more aggressive with guitar harmonies and ultimately much of a departure from the “doom” classification in which Beastmaker made their name and in which they released a staggering amount of material in a short time.
Across all four tracks of Beastmaker’s Eye of the Storm you can expect to find similar surprising elements: harmonized guitars, infectious riffs, layered vocals and driving rhythms. Admittedly all elements of what have made Beastmaker a notable piece of the American doom scene. That said, long time fans might be surprised at experiencing the levity and clarity in production found on their latest work but the shift is a welcome one pushing Beastmaker away from the 70s occult roots and closer to the modern school of doom found in guitarist/vocalist T.W. Church’s (and J. Tucker’s) other project Haunt. Is this the direction that Beastmaker is going to be headed or is this EP merely a fun departure from the band’s usual sound?
At seventeen minutes, Eye of the Storm isn’t going to take up much of your day (unless you put it on loop and then eat a ton of drugs). But it will invigorate you, give you something to think about and certainly give you plenty of hooks to unconsciously sing aloud in inappropriate situations throughout the day. Balance your life, balance your diet and balance your emotions and do so by spinning Beastmaker’s Eye of the Storm upon waking. You won’t regret it and your central nervous system will thank you.