Bestial Earthhammer is a solo-project from the U.S. that creates experimental Black Metal / Ambient with a good dose of influence from the most primitive BM-bands, along with for example ambient and drone doom. This is the band's first release, executed with a guitar, varying vocals, programmed drums and some electronic effects. Most of the tracks are between one to two minutes long.

It was rather difficult to grasp the music at first; the overall picture mostly consists of varying, pounding, simple and really damp but powerful programmed drums, some distorted and thin-sounding guitars rather back in the mix, some simple electronic and ambient effects here and there, and some varying vocals on the top. The end result consists of fuzzy, messy, primitive and short outbursts of atmospheric black metal. The tracks are simple in nature, as they continue in the same mood, patterns, tempo and atmosphere each until the second track comes in. They're also rather primitive due to the (musical) simplisticity of the elements, and their sparse amount.

When one has listened to this release enough to get into the soundscape, he/she will be surprised by the amount of variation between these primitive tracks. First off, the tempo varies a lot between the tracks - although most of the demo stays well above mid-tempo - keeping the listener awake. The songs are mostly driven forward by the simplistic but varying, catchy beats, along with a layer of distorted guitar usually behind (occasionally even way behind) the drums. The riffs are simple and repetitive, and most of the time something that won't stick to your mind - they're there to add feeling and rawness to the tracks and to fill the soundscape, creating some background-sounds and occasionally some ambient- and even electronic/noise-esque effects. The vocals vary a lot, from whispers, harsh shouts/screams, varying growls, and gnarling to even some clean vocals in a couple of tracks. The vocals are a big element in creating the atmospheres and catchiness of the songs, and they succeed in it well through their raw appeal and repetition. Just after one or two listens you're likely to have "United Nations Under Hoof", "Nuclear Satanic Goat Sodomy" or "Scumdog Underworld" playing in your head.

Even though the record's whole is solid despite it's variation, there's still things that stick out. There's a few tracks that are clearly lacking in interesting elements; most of the tracks are based on one or two main elements sticking out amidst the other ones, but when this isn't the case the tracks seem dull simply due to them not fitting to the record's whole. While the improvisation and recording on the first take can occasionally be noticed in some guitars and vocals, it fits to the demo's primitive nature. Sometimes, though, this can be seen through some guitars or vocals just being plain dull, uninnovative or messy, unfitting. Even though these things are rarely visible, they really damage the listening experience on a couple of tracks. Some even more minor flaws are the fact that "Whispers..." is way louder than the tracks before it, really surprising the listener due to it's sudden loud start, and that the doomy ambient piece "Bones and Incantations" is too lenghty; it's calm and unsurprising nature does not, again, fit to the demo's whole and nature.

The demo includes no lyrics, but a lot of them are clearly audible anyway. The themes revolve around violence, a "satanic nuclear goat"-figourine, occult themes and more punk-oriented themes. Despite the lyrics and vocals sounding rather ridiculous on a few tracks, they fit into the whole like a glove, losing the humorous qualities they would have if they'd be listened on their own. The demo clearly presents a band that has a clear vision of it's output and nature, and even the flaws in the music aren't mostly a bother due to the record's primitive nature. The whole is well crafted, and the record has an occult mood that's only slightly bothered by the couple weaker tracks. I will most certainly keep an eye on this band's future records.

4 / 5