Posted by: Necci – May 29, 2012
People often start bands like Beastmilk with the intention of using sinister, apocalyptic imagery to shock or unsettle listeners. And while this approach has occasionally reached its intended goal, the act of trying to disturb people with morbid imagery is so over-done as to have been rendered cliched. It takes a lot more than songs about irradiated corpses to really shake an audience at this point, and while I can't say that's necessarily what Helsinki-based Beastmilk is attempting, they do attain a subtly unsettling end, in that a listener can easily find themselves tapping a foot, nodding a head, or humming along to a song that casually references Stalinism or gas chambers.
So despite the catchiness, it isn't going to appeal to everybody. Songs with titles like “Children of the Atom Bomb” don't necessarily win over the masses. Nor does the sort of cavernous, low-fidelity production normally found on crust punk and black metal albums (not surprising considering the band features a former member of black metal experimentalists, and Darkthrone side project, Dødheimsgard), though this release possesses a slightly cleaner production quality than 2010's White Stains On Black Tape, which saw its first vinyl release concurrent with this newer recording. But cloaked in this morose, disorienting atmosphere are seriously catchy songs, ones that lend an exhilarating quality to ideas of desolation and destruction. They conjure images of grim bands of survivors of society's collapse, picking up instruments amid ten millenia worth of ruins and playing this music simply because there's nothing left for them to do.
While there are moments that don't fall far from a noisier Joy Division, a less macho Samhain, or Jesus & Mary Chain on a sizable dose of horse tranquilizers, Use Your Deluge couldn't really be easily classified as falling in line with any specific strain of post-punk material. A shadowy photo on the cover of the members cloaked in darkness, one pouring milk into an overflowing glass, underscores the dark, mysterious image with which they seem to want to define themselves, but raises as many questions as it answers. How literally is one to take the moroseness of the band's image? Is the overwhelmingly apocalyptic tone a wholly serious facet of what they do? Is there any tongue in their collective cheek, some strange Finnish sense of humor, or is the overflowing glass of milk intended as some really heavy commentary? The gloom almost seems campy at times, a bleakness so exaggerated that it can be hard to take it at face value.
These questions shouldn't taken as criticism, however. It's rare to find anything at this point that isn't clearly laid out and neatly categorized for listeners. The fact that Beastmilk seems to relish the ambiguities in which they cloak their music alone makes them more interesting than many bands attempting a similar aesthetic, to say nothing of their ability to craft more memorable and coherent material than most bands who could be considered their contemporaries. By offering a few twists on a familiar approach, the band pushes their music far afield of expectations, and in doing so crafts material that balances the disturbing and the accessible in a way that few can.
By Graham Scala