Review: Beastmilk – Use Your Deluge

A purposely lo-fi noise-punk blast of dark greatness from Beastmilk.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Beastmilk

Use Your Deluge

Svart Records

And the year of our lord (or yours) did then bring the arrival of Beastmilk. Helsinki based Beastmilk that is, a band you don’t really know about it but should. Why? Well fuck man; do I have to do everything? I guess I do because I’d be too afraid for you to do this on your own. Lot of things going on here, lot of angles in the old Duders head, but I digress. Beastmilk are a band, we’ve established that. They have a new EP out titled Use Your Deluge, now you have that piece of the puzzle. Okay children, lets move on to the juicy beef of what I’m talking about.

The press photo for Beastmilk features four individuals cloaked in dark colors and standing in shadow. Wow, that’s macabre, that’s spooky. What are these guys about, it must be something raging with metal or pulsing with ambient soundscapes. Except wait, there’s a rub. One of these dark soldiers is pouring a glass of milk into an overflowing glass. Their name is Beastmilk, there’s milk in the picture, doesn’t that boast a sense of humor. Could there be some self-inflicted camp with this band?

Within that conundrum of imagery you find the riddle of Beastmilk’s music. Let’s not mince words children; Use Your Deluge is gifted.  It’s dark, ambient, catchy, and low-fi all at once. Do you see? Do you see why the band is so confusing? Yeah, I kind of like it to. Some will be quick to label Beastmilk as retro-something or slap a name with them that inevitably involves the term “Goth”. Sure there are elements of a gloomier Joy Division, an angrier Echo & The Bunnymen, a medicated Killing Joke and even a lush layering of Peter Murphy. All of that in the mix, nothing happening here is nostalgia nor is it easy to digest.

Before I try to break down the songs, lets talk production. Use Your Deluge is purposefully low-fi. There is a muffled quality to the goings on that brings to mind a single microphone in the middle of a giant room picking up the band playing off to one side. To the digital generation, the ones who debate over how good an Mp3 sounds at what bit-rate, this might be a turn off. To those of us who love the raw sound of punk demos or even underground black metal, the production is instant erection material. You can hear everything fine, nothing sounds muted, it’s just a pure and honest raw energy you can only catch by recording an album live-to-tape.

Musically these four songs are a bigger example of the dichotomy of Beastmilk’s photo. The songs are dark, drenched in a melancholy sadness that makes them just a bit disturbing. Wrapped within this darkness are catchy hooks and upbeat tempos that will force you to tap the foot, bob the head or fully get up and dance around the room. “Void Mother”, the EPs opener, is a swing groove. The bass and drums give the tune the kind of movement that brings about grooving shoulders and snapping fingers. Over the top of that is a noisy guitar that hammers the riff into the ground. Then come the vocals, superb and haunting, the words are thick with melodrama and grace. There’s so much emotion in the vocals that you can’t help but be moved.

“Children Of The Atom Bomb” is the showstopper. A straightforward post-punk tune that enters a checks and balances song structure with low-end gothic (sorry, it works here) tendencies. When the noise becomes too much, the song switches effortlessly into a darker and slower movement. The chorus is outstanding, one of the best sing along choruses in recent memory. “Forever Animal” is dark pop, catchy but allowing for moments of weirdness that allow some musical punches to the left and right. “Red Majesty” is the experimental jam. Tribal drums’ bringing to mind Killing Joke but with a dissonant guitar line that engages you as much as it rubs you the wrong way. 

The entirety of Use Your Deluge feels like Beastmilk is daring you to look past the dark imagery and just enjoy the songs. Can you put aside your own pretentions and dig the jams? Can you see the humor in the darkness and find the nuggets of genius that lay beneath the perceived surface. Use Your Deluge is a catchy slice of post-punk, noise-punk and dark pop but it’s more than that. It’s an EP that makes you think and step outside of your comfort zone.