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EP Review: Beastmaker – The EP’s

In June 2018, Trevor William Church went from being a more prolific than average musician to the Buckethead of doom. His “main” project Beastmaker, having already put out two full-lengths and three EP’s since its 2014 formation, suddenly released eight EP’s in just a three-week span. These recordings are said to mark the end of the group’s horror doom beginnings; they’ve since promised a stylistic revamp after signing a new contract with Shadow Kingdom Records, which is also home to Church’s other band Haunt.

What makes this premise especially fascinating is that these EP’s not only all sound alike but really aren’t that far removed from Beastmaker’s “proper” releases either. The slightly rawer production isn’t too surprising since these are basically glorified demos and all, and classic horror samples are used more frequently to presumably spruce things up the looser compositions. But the post-Pentagram traditional doom style of Inside the Skull and Lusus Naturae is at full force as songs are defined by grimly grooving riffs and nasally sneered vocals. The execution is a little more aggressive, but tempos rarely fluctuate, and lengths never venture beyond the two to four-minute range.

A thirty-two song total understandably makes one wonder how they were all crafted and how good they end up being. The compositions are basic, and arrangements are all quite sparse, but it would be unfair to call these tracks mindless. They do inevitably run together but a workman quality can be felt throughout. One can imagine hours of tinkering away at these songs, making sure that each track fits its mold before moving on to the next. It’s clear that Mr. Church lives and breathes his music and these songs clearly highlight the difference between cranking out music and merely pulling it out of your ass.

While these EP’s don’t contain any future doom staples by any means, it’s reassuring to see some good songs come from such an extensive amount of material. EP 1 provides the strongest batch with “Colors of the Dark” starting things off right and “Black Butterfly” putting in a surprisingly infectious chorus. EP 6 also comes out surprisingly strong thanks to the Uncle Acid-style bounces of “Thirteens the Hour” and “Midwich.” I also give props to “Knights that Came from Hell” for its gloriously metal title as well as “Forever with the Devil” for its delightful Vincent Price sample.

On the surface, the 2018 Beastmaker EP’s will only appeal to already established fans and won’t do much for anybody beyond the traditional doom spectrum. I’m not a fanboy, but as one songwriter examining another, it’s fascinating how much insight this material gives into the writing process. It’s like you’re witnessing the material develop before your eyes, but the presentation is polished enough to not feel intrusive. It’s best enjoyed in the small doses as initially released but they’re breezy enough to binge without too much exhaustion. Between this and Haunt’s Burst into Flame, I have garnered a new level of respect for Mr. Church and will be watching his future developments with great interest.

“Colors of the Dark”
“Black Butterfly”
“Mortal Souls”
“Knights that Came from Hell”
“Thirteens the Hour”
“Night of the Eagle”
“Unholy Communion”

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