BEASTWARS, Blood Becomes Fire (2013, self-released)
Here we have a skull cover so badass, so expertly painted, so perfectly perfect in its perfection, there will be very little need for snarky comment here. Look at it! It’s like the greatest science fiction book cover for the greatest science fiction novel ever. A skull slowly creeps up on a planet that once thought him a moon, and then starts quietly blasting away at the planet’s other moons, which he has gathered and brought closer for the denizens of the planet to get a good look at. Or perhaps it is sucking up these worlds like so much inconsequential dust into an industrial size vacuum tube. Problem is, there are no denizens in sight to bear witness, but hey, the main thrust of the mission is being carried out no fucking matter what. It’s like some apocalyptic version of the Asteroids video game come to life above a hot, arid desert planet, and it can’t help but recall Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Cool as hell. Only thing bringing down my enthusiasm is a pessimistic feeling that the music cannot possibly be as good as the cover.
These New Zealanders throw down some massive, monolithic stuff throughout Blood Becomes Fire. It’s one huge ball of burning sludge slammed up against even huger balls of burning sludge. It’s got an ominous, creepy quality to it, and they have a keener melodic component than most “sludge” bands, helping them transcend the lamentable sludge tag altogether. I hear everything from Giant Squid to Solstafir to Devin Townsend to Belew-era King Crimson in their music, and no doubt these guys would go down very well with fans of Mastodon. While I was hoping for something more along the lines of Ansur meets Gorguts meets Kayo Dot meets Bolt Thrower, I don’t think such a thing exists, so in that case, Beastwars capably convey the more-epic-than-epic imagery of their insanely great album cover.
— Friar Wagner