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    Interviews: Matt Hyde from Beastwars

    19.11.15 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Beastwars have been busy in the studio recording their eagerly anticipated third album – following on from 2011’s well received self-titled debut Beastwars, and 2013’s sophomore album Blood Becomes Fire.  We caught up with vocalist Matt Hyde who keeps us in the loop with the band’s busy schedule, and fills us in on how their new album is coming along.

    How is the recording of the third Beastwars album progressing?  Has it been an easier process this time round, or is each album an entirely new experience?
    We are back in the studio this week to add more guitars, sounds and add some more vocal tracks. We managed to get about 90% done in the 5 days we had between the South Island shows and our Wellington show at San Fran Bathhouse. I’m not sure easier is the right word but definitely a different vibe, as we have tried a lot of new ways of writing this album compared to the last two records.

    In terms of tone and style, what can be expected from this album?  Is there a narrative or conceptual element the band is hoping to convey?
    Darkatmospheric filled with huge riffs. The album deals with realism more than sci-fiction – portraits of people dealing with life thru vice and religion, damnation and redemption, and also a complete sense of running out of time.. change comes very fast. No ending is perfect, in fact, the end is a possible stumble of unfinished hopes, ambition and dreams.

    There’s an innate darkness and epic quality to Beastwars which is perfectly echoed in Nick Keller’s artwork for your previous albums Beastwars andBlood Becomes Fire, as well as the Beastwars custom-brewed beer label.  How did this collaboration for your artwork come about?
    As the years have passed, our relationship with Nick has just become a great friendship – we love and admire his work.

    What helps inspire your song writing?  Are other bands a big influence or do you prefer to conjure a unique sound?
    I just try and look at the world and imagine advents, stories, victories and failings through the eyes of strangers; maybe sometimes even my own eyes.

    Your recent tour with Jakob has just wrapped up.  Do you have any highlights from these shows?  Did you debut material from your upcoming album? 
    The tour was great, being able to showcase our new material in front of an audience then jump into the studio was an ideal way for us to record. I believe we have captured our song ‘Horse’ (working title) particularly well when I listened back to the rough mixes. It is the song I hear when I’m standing on stage – I’m back there in the moment.

    What’s up next on the Beastwars agenda?
    At the moment the record. We are also playing Echo Festival in Auckland January 11th.. with a few other shows over the summer yet to be announced.

    From The Archives:
    Beastwars made the cover of ‘Rip It Up’ in 2013, as their second album ‘Blood Becomes Fire’ was released. Here is the interview the band did with Martyn Pepperell.
    They’re our unlikeliest chart toppers, stars of a genre your mum has probably never heard of. But for Beastwars the slavish quest for popularity has no place in music. Rig It Up assembled the band for a ritualistic charring of flesh and imbibing of mead, which may have looked to an outsider like a pleasant weekend barbecue, and discussed the tribal nature of man and music. “People made music for centuries before the music industry,” says Matt Hyde.

    On a warm Saturday evening in early March, Nathan Hickey, Clayton Anderson, lames Woods and Matt Hyde, the quartet collectively known in heavy metal circles as Beastwars, are gathered in the open plan kitchen/living room and backyard of Hickey’s house in the Wellington suburb of Mt Cook. Dressed in black band t-shirts and denim jeans, they’re each occupied with different tasks. Hickey is making a Greek salad and pouring everyone glasses of locally brewed craft beer. Anderson is outside, cooking a leg of lamb and a selection of sausages on the barbecue. Woods is stationed next to the stereo and record player, working through a stack of vinyl albums including works from Aerosmith, Arc of Ascent, Metallica, Scott Walker and The Stooges, amongst others.

    Hyde stands in front of the communal kitchen table, looking at an assortment of different coloured guitar picks detailed with Beastwars artwork and phrases like ‘obey the riff’. They’re divided into one hundred individual piles of three, each of which will be packaged up with a red and gold vinyl record with full colour gatefold artwork by fantasy artist Nick Keller and a lyric sheet, as the deluxe edition of their second album Blood Becomes Fire, due for release in April. “Think about it, this represents the whole world,” Hyde says with a childlike wonder to his voice. “Outside of New Zealand, we’ve had pre-orders from places like Brazil, Norway and America.”

    Handled through a dedicated website www., they’re also been offering the album on CD, as a standalone MP3 folder and as a t-shirt with download code attached. Committed to creating quality physical packages that match the visceral qualities of their internationally loved sludge metal, Beastwars attention to detail is born of a longstanding dialogue with an impressively loyal fan base. “People need to understand that when they buy a record from a band, they’re helping the band make more music,” Hyde explains. “We wouldn’t be making this second album without people buying physical copies [or coming to shows]. At the end of the day, all of the people who have bought t-shirts and CDs and vinyl made us be able to make this album.”

    As Hickey finishes assembling the salad and Anderson completes the barbeque, the group gathers around the kitchen table for a few drinks and a meal, expressing a shared enthusiasm for what Blood Becomes Fire adds to the Beastwars oeuvre, while reflecting on the positive overseas feedback they’ve had from media outlets, and the sheer volume of shows they’re played together since they released their untitled debut album in 2001. ‘‘We’ve played more shows between the first and second album than we had while we were becoming a band,” Hickey says. ‘‘I think when the first record came out we had a local fan base in Wellington, but the rest of the country was kind of surprised. It was like we came out of nowhere.” Still all working day jobs, Beastwars are family men, or at the very least coupled up men.

    Off stage and off record they have a settled calmness, a quality diametrically opposed to the heroic, celebratory energy their music possesses both live and recorded. Emotionally, they impact as hard as many of their heroes, yet making the transition into making a full—time living out of the band has never been an explicit priority. In fact, they actually seem to draw strength from living lives less lopsided. “We’re free,” Hyde enthuses, speaking with his eyes shut and exuding an electric energy with every word. “We’re free from all that world of having to become a product to be sold. We are free because we are in our own time, our own space. Don’t think the band just ends because you have to go to work. It walks with you. It is with you in every moment.”

    “If you want to make lots of money, become a lawyer,” Woods laughs. “If you want to be famous, do something stupid, get it filmed and put it on the Internet. If you’re making music to make money or become famous, sorry buddy, you’re in the wrong game.” “People made music for centuries before the music industry,” Hyde elaborates. “They just made it a part of their life. They’re just go to the fields, and they got food, and they made music when they got home at nighttime. It’s just an old ritual that we are following.” Last year they took things full circle by returning to the Dunedin based studio where they recorded their first album, again choosing to call on the mercurial ears of audio engineer Dale Cotton for recording, mixing and co-production duties, along the way borrowing equipment from old school Southern legends like Stephen Kilroy and Bob Scott. In a process that took ten days, Cotton pushed Beastwars to the edge, engineering a unique state of emotional conflict, which eventually unified the band against him, leading to a remarkable outcome. “The job of a producer is to bring the music out of you and make it the best they can,” Hickey says. “He has interesting techniques, they pushed us to a new level.”

    “You’re in this space for ten days of madness,” Hyde says. “It really was the height of darkness. We were so happy when we arrived. We were so sad when we left. When you look back, that was what was done, that was what we had to go through.” Lyrically shadowed by the concepts of age, life, sickness, physical change and spiritual change, Blood Becomes Fire is essentially a reflection on mortality and the human instinct to, when death comes knocking, call for something higher, even though, as Hyde puts it, “there may be nothing, we may be talking into the blank.” With Hickey (drums) and Woods (bass) locked together in an increasingly machine like manner, Hickey’s virtually tribal rhythms and Woods viscous bass ooze serve as a perfect backdrop to Hyde’s massive voice, pained yet melodically expressive as it is. Meanwhile, Anderson’s triumphant guitar riffs rally the rest of the band, lending a wartime feel to the music, and in the process presenting them as fearless gladiators locked into the midst of a never-ending cosmic conflict, qualities all enhanced by Nick Keller’s remarkable oil painting artwork.

    “I think we deal in old, eternal themes,” Hyde says. “We’ve just thrown them into the modern world. Look, nothing has changed. Society has not changed. It is still the same. There is the elite, the workers in the middle and the poor. That is all it is. When a show is happening, we all get together and say, fuck that! It’s just about the music, you know? That is what I think Beastwars is, a celebration of tribalism and life! A celebration of being a human being. I have to work, I have kids, but at the moment of the music, everyone escapes together.” In the background, American-British songwriter Scott Walker wails forlornly through a speaker. Coupled with Hyde’s words it’s a salient moment. From darkness comes new light, and may Beastwars continue to prove this for years to come. Blood Becomes Fire is out April 20th (Record Store Day).

    ‘Born Of Fire’ sourced from Rip It Up No. 352, April/May 2013. Grateful acknowledgment to Grant Hislop for letting us use this material on our site.

  • General


    02.10.15 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Cover image

    Wellington black metal band Bulletbelt are about to head back across the ditch for the Toxic Holocaust, Nuke the Southern Cross tour, but before they do they’re warming up with a free entry matinee show at Wellington’s home of local metal, Valhalla (this Sunday 4th October, from 4pm).  They’ll be debuting their new song Orpheus, as well as a fresh stage set.  These guys (and gal) have been working super hard and it’s wicked to see their track Deathgasm from 2014’s Rise of the Banshee featured on the soundtrack for New Zealand heavy metal splatter film of the same name, DEATHGASM, directed by Jason Lei Howden.  If you haven’t seen this flick yet, you absolutely have to!  It’s everything you want a New Zealand splatter-fest to be and more because it’s jam-packed full of stand-up kiwi music, including Wellington’s own Bulletbelt, power metal band Razorwyre and sludge demons Beastwars.

    Check out some of the featured artists below, including Bulletbelt’s DEATHGASM, the first video clip from Rise of the Banshee:



  • General

    Eva Prowse – A Secret Worth Sharing!

    06.08.15 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Eva Prowse is a name to listen out for. The Wellington songbird has recently completed recording her second solo album Humid Nights, which is due for release in September/October this year. Her debut album, 2010’s I Can’t Keep Secrets, produced by The Phoenix Foundation’s Samuel Flynn Scott, is a wee gem – a wonderful combination of folk-pop, full of beautiful, gently played instruments (guitar, mandolin, violin), and melodic tunes carried by Eva’s charming vocals.

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    The talented songstress has been busy the last several years with an array of impressive projects including performances and recordings for Fly My Pretties (A Story; and Fly My Pretties IV) as well as providing backing vocals and violin for solo albums by both Barnaby Weir (Tarot Card Rock) and Wild Bill Ricketts (West Wind). Additionally, as part of collaborative project H & Eva, she co-wrote, produced and recorded their EP Crazy Eyes alongside Henry Marks (of Mon Ami), whilst abroad in 2012.

    More recently, Eva has been performing shows across the country on Eden Mulholland’s Utopia Tour where she has been debuting new songs from her anticipated Humid Nights release. Check Eva out here, performing Space Cadet for Fly My Pretties IV and stream or download her music via Bandcamp.

  • General

    Leviathan: The Heavy Metal Art of Nick Keller

    18.06.15 | Permalink | Comment? | By



    Artwork is an integral part of any album concept and several Wellington metal bands have seriously upped the ante over the last few years, enlisting renowned artist Nick Keller for their album art.  Keller is a senior concept designer at Weta Workshop and has worked on massive film productions including The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  His award winning science-fiction/fantasy style fits perfectly with the tone of heavy metal.  The combined audio-visual result is dark, epic and truly impressive!

    Local metal bands Bulletbelt, Beastwars, Heresiarch, and Razorwyre have all commissioned artwork by Keller for various album/EP releases.  Though the bands each represent very different corners of the metal spectrum, Keller expertly conjures imagery that defies boundaries and evokes the depth and darkness of bands’ unique sound.

    In collaboration with NZ Comic Con 2015, Thistle Hall will be hosting Leviathan: The Heavy Metal Art of Nick Keller – a showcase of the artists’ collaborations with heavy metal bands, including the aforementioned Wellington groups, as well as other metal bands from New Zealand and around the world.  Leviathan will exhibit from 13-19 July, at Thistle Hall (293 Cuba Street), free entry.

    Header used with permission of Comic Con.

  • General

    Wellington Metal Gigs: Summer/Autumn 2015

    21.04.15 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    2015 is shaping up to be an extremely busy year for Wellington metalheads. The event calendar is jam-packed full of notable gigs, including a significant number of international acts. This gives hard-working local musicians the opportunity to play alongside some truly legendary bands and helps them garner much deserved exposure.

    Cover imageMMXV began with a bang, with Wellington black thrash maniacs Pervertor supporting Swedish black metal legends Marduk on the Auckland leg of their Frontschwein tour in January. This was promptly followed by the third installment of Wellington promoter Headless Horseman’s Strike of the Beast festival, held at Vivian Street venue Valhalla. The impressive line-up included Wellington’s Bulletbelt and their brothers in metal Pervertor playing alongside a strong collective of accomplished metal acts from across New Zealand; as well as the exciting inclusion of Australian metallers Johnny Touch and their Aussie counterparts, black thrashers Bastardizer.
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    Australian death metal tyrants Disentomb played Valhalla on the 28th February with local support from Wellington’s tech death heavyweights Farming the Population and grind group Insidious Wretch; alongside brutal counterparts, Carnal and Horrendous Disfigurement.

    March saw Goatwhore’s New Zealand tour reach our shores. Hailing from New Orleans, Wellington audiences were treated to a debauched night of extreme metal. The Wellington show saw solid support from local acts Bulletbelt and crust punks Bonecruncher and Vomit Storm.

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    The mayhem continues in April with Cleveland’s black/speed demons Midnight bringing their No Mercy Down Under Australasian tour to the capital this Saturday, 18th April. Joining them in support are Wellington veterans Bulletbelt, local black thrash duo Vomit Storm and Auckland’s Graves. Bulletbelt are relishing an insane schedule at the moment, joining Midnight to play all their Australian and New Zealand shows on the No Mercy tour, having only recently toured their well-received Rise of the Banshee album across the ditch late last year.

    The Wellington horde are amped to see mammoth UK grindcore legends Napalm Death and Carcass play two highly anticipated shows at Valhalla next week on 21st/22nd April. Bulletbelt are also proudly playing in support at the sold out Tuesday night Wellington show – a second show on Wednesday having been added after tickets promptly sold out! As a cool side note mentioned on their facebook page, Bulletbelt drummer Steve’s first band Karnage supported Carcass in 1993 (22 years ago!) on their Heartwork tour and [guitarist] Ryan’s old band, Wellington legends Backyard Burial supported Napalm 8 years ago!” Awesome.
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    With Desecration of the Capital V coming up on 25th/26th April at Valhalla, there’s no rest for the wicked! This fifth incarnation of local promoter Internecion Production’s two-night festival features an illustrious line-up of several of New Zealand and Australia’s best black/death offerings including Wellington’s Vesicant and brutal death duo Cenosphere.

    Seeing us through to mid-2015, Wellington fans are hanging out for the mighty co-headlining Suffocation and Decapitated Despise the World Australian/New Zealand tour heading to Wellington’s iconic bar Bodgea on Friday 1st May. This promises to be a brutal night of renowned international death metal!!

    While extreme metal certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, for those who love it, live it and breathe it – we believe it’s really promising to see such a strong caliber of international metal making its way to Wellington with greater frequency. It all helps to support the scene, our musicians and venues, and ultimately encourages the awesome cultural diversity that this cool little city has to offer.

    Take a listen to local band Vomit Storm’s album ‘Mudge or be Mudged’ available for free streaming or digital download via their bandcamp page 🙂  And see them play this weekend, Saturday 18th April when they support Midnight at Valhalla.



  • General

    Axiom of the Elite

    18.02.15 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Image credit: Axiom of the Elite (

    Image credit: Axiom of the Elite (

    Axiom of the Elite is a substantial, high-quality zine that profiles a selection of New Zealand’s best underground metal bands and offers insight into the NZ metal scene from an insider’s point of view.  Launched in 2012 by Mark Brooks (of Auckland bands Exordium Mors and Bloodfvkk), Axiom aims to showcase lesser-known and much deserving metal acts and to increase awareness of a dynamic scene that is often misrepresented.

    The hefty 1st issue of Axiom was released with a corresponding double CD compilation which includes sample tracks from an assortment of highly respected local bands.  The Wellington horde includes Blood of the Moon, Bulletbelt, Execrate, Pervertor and Sabbatic Goat.  A track from brutal grind-core legends Backyard Burial (no longer active) also features.  Professionally written and expertly designed, Axiom of the Elite is recommended ‘to fans of Thrash, Death, Black, Grind, Power, Industrial, Doom/Sludge and Heavy Metal’ who will undoubtedly relish the engaging anecdotal style and appreciate the polished presentation.

    The zine’s equally impressive 2nd issue was released  in 2013 with a digital compilation available for download with purchase.  Alongside their brothers in metal, Wellington bands Brutal Supremacy and Red Dawn contributed tracks for the online compilation which is also available for streaming via Axiom’s Bandcamp webpage.  Due to high demand and limited print-run the libraries’ zine collection missed out on the 2nd volume, but issue 3 is due for release sometime in 2015.

    Axiom of the Elite is a great example of some of the awesome local stuff that’s tucked away safely behind the scenes at the Central Library.  The 1st issue zine and accompanying CD are presently shelved in the stack collection and can be borrowed, just ask the friendly folk at the Sound & Vision counter, or place a reserve to have the set sent to your local branch for a small fee.

    Keep in mind that we love to receive your zine donations and CD recommendations too.  So if you have any local gems that you’d like to share, please do let us know!

  • General

    Rise of the Banshee!

    16.12.14 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    [Image courtesy of Ian Tilley Photography]

    [Image courtesy of Ian Tilley Photography]

    Armed with fierce new vocalist Jolene Tempest, NZ metal band Bulletbelt are a force to be reckoned with! The Wellington-based five-piece comprises respected members of the local metal community and brings together a unique sound that draws inspiration from black metal, and encompasses elements from traditional metal, thrash and punk. Evolving from 2012’s Down in the Cold of the Grave, these diverse influences are all unleashed in the band’s recently released second full-length album Rise of the Banshee. 2014 has seen Bulletbelt digress from their earlier black metal roots and develop an encompassing sound that pushes boundaries and welcomes a broader audience.

    A relentless NZ/Australian tour included support slots for an impressive range of international acts like Sepultura and has concluded with the Wellington Album Release Show at Valhalla on Sunday with support from local bands Fallen Order and Insidious Wretch. Good guys (and gal!) that Bulletbelt are, entry fee for the gig included Rise of the Banshee CD, a complementary crate bottle of Ale of the Banshee and a Hells Pizza voucher!!!   The band also made headlines recently after their set at the New Plymouth Tattoo Festival coincided with a performance by pop-folk band The Seekers, playing at a near-by concert.  And they’re a commanding live act indeed!  Be sure to check Bulletbelt out when they play Wellington metal fest Strike of the Beast in the new year, and later in April when they support US band Midnight on their No Mercy Down Under tour.

    Rise of the Banshee and Down in the Cold of the Grave are available to borrow from the Wellington City Libraries CD collection or you can support some local metal and purchase copies from Bulletbelt’s bandcamp page.