On a nameless, murky night at Carfax In Joburg I stood utterly transfixed watching Inge Beckmann strut like Marla Singer on acid onstage with the other members of Lark.
It was like she was conjuring the elements, whipping them up into a maelstrom of human limbs thrashing in syncopated unison. It was a wonder to behold.
After she’d finished performing I ran into her in the crowd and drunkenly confessed that she was the sexiest woman I’d ever seen play live. So when I heard she’d formed Beast with the legendary Louis Nel and Rian Zitsmann from Taxi Violence and Sasha Righini from The Plastics, I had to get my hands on their album.
It wasn’t easy. As badass as the name “Beast” is, there are at least another two bands that share the same name (one being a Korean boy band. Siff). All I was able to find was the video for “Fill The Hole” a track in which Beckman’s singing takes on an almost cat-like wail that had me wondering whether she’d taken things a little far with her new band.
Then via a lucky coincidence I tracked Beast down on Twitter and downloaded their full debut Smoke Swig Swear and, one listen in, I was nodding my head, utterly transfixed and grinning from ear to ear.
Jesus, where to begin? The eight tracks on Smoke Swig Swear are packed with a ton of thumping, seething, meaty hooks and “fuck yeah!” moments that tease like a stripper and kick like a mule.
It’s not often I lump this kind of praise on an album, but I’d almost say that every track on Smoke Swig Swear will melt your fucking face off.
First off, this is a band of only bass guitars which Nel and Zitsmann wield like twin sledgehammers, lending the album this deliciously dark tone throughout that crawls under your skin and makes a home for itself.
Add Righini’s dextrous, awe-inspiring work behind the kit you have a band that is basically ALL rhythm section. These guys play so tight you’d need a crowbar to separate their beats and riffs from one another. It’s filthy, mutant blues laced with everything that was cool about rock music in the 90s.
The album opens with “Fill The Hole”, the album’s most abrasive track by far. It’s a baptism by fire, it’s the band dialing shit up to 11, breaking you in hard and fast as Beckmann wails “Draw a hand / Draw the dead / Draw a heart / Draw a head / Lift the hand / Raise the dead / Eat her heart / Roll her head”.
“Airport Deport Abort” is sheer songwriting genius. With a bassline reminiscent of Bjork’s seminal “Army Of Me”, this track lurches with thinly disguised malice – it’s complex, expertly arranged and custom built to prove beyond doubt that this band is not here to fuck around.
“Walls” starts out pensive and quickly builds to a frenzied climax as Beckmann sings “I’m in the well / I’m in the black garden / Rolling down a hill / Pulling gunk out of your mouth again”.
I could go on – I could wax lyrical about the soaring chorous of “The Grape”, the beautiful slow-build of “Man In Between”, the undeniable, bluesy rock ‘n roll badassery of “Smoke Swig Swear”, but this review would run on for days.
And then, after everything that is Smoke Swig Swear, the sheer agony and ecstasy of this undeniably powerful album, the band drops “Hand Of God” that lands with atom-bomb force as Beckmann sings “And all the idols will topple over / And the fair maidens will be reformed / And all the men will know their worth / When the earth implodes”.
Should You Give A Shit?
Fuck me, have you been reading this review?!?!
Get this album. Stab it directly into your heart like an adrenaline-filled syringe and sit tight as shit gets interesting.
Then, when you’re done falling sickly in love with this album, go out and watch them play live. Get the fuck off the 5FM bandwagon and wonder off the beaten path for a change.
Get their album. Unleash the Beast. Thank me later
Here’s “The Grape” to give you guys a taste:
Final Verdict: 9/10