The Kvohst with the MostI’ve never even listened to his black metal releases with Code, but over the past few years I’ve become a fan of Kvohst. First his psych-folk band Hexvessel intrigued me. Then his deathrock band Beastmilk intrigued me. Then Hexvessel blew me away. And now it’s Beastmilk’s turn to see what it can do.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know a lot about deathrock. My main touchstone for this style is a song or two off the soundtrack to The Crow--not the Stone Temple Pilots and Pantera that sold the record, but the moodier, gothy stuff that set the mood for the film. However, that’s only a superficially useful comparison.
Sure, Beastmilk has the bass-driven riffs and stylized, gothic vocals that I associate with deathrock. Climax has a veneer of gloom-and-doom replete with predictable song titles like “Death Reflects Us,” “Nuclear Winter,” and “Love in a Cold World.” But it’s clear they are having a good time. They use handclaps on more than one song, for death’s sake, and reference the Beach Boys. It’s not the obvious wink-and-nod treatment of goth we once got from Type O Negative, but it’s at least a knowing look.
At its most essential core, Climax is a pop record. It’s impossible not to sing along to the vocal melody of “Surf the Apocalypse,” and I defy anyone to hear “Genocidal Crush” without singing it to himself later on. But it’s not a dumb pop record, clearly taking a few drafts from more respectable wells. The high-pitched guitars are a bit psychedelic, and there’s more than a little shoegaze in “Ghosts Out of Focus.” The production, also, is definitely not the overpolished, overclipped style you’d expect from pop: Hear the echoes of fingers on strings in “Fear Your Mind.”
Finally, I also have to mention the album art. The clean, stark image with the skull and milk instantly evokes the opening shot in A Clockwork Orange, without necessarily being a direct reference.
The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars