Beak assuming a higher pecking order among best new metal bands with great ‘Let Time Begin’

BeakThe jump from release one to two can be a tricky one. That first record is usually a culmination of songs a band has been working on for some time while plying their trade on the road, finding their feet as musicians and songwriters, and playing those songs repeatedly until they’re practically DNA. The second effort, though, is where we see if the band has any real staying power.

If that above model can be applied safely, for the most part, there’s genuine reason to be excited about Beak, the atmospheric, sludgy maulers out of fertile Chicago whose newest work, and their first full-length “Let Time Begin” is at hand. Their 2012 EP “Eyrie” was enough to get us excited about what this band could do, as they seemed to walk a line between ISIS and Pelican as far as their sound was concerned. Yeah, a lot of bands can say that same thing. It’s a heavily traveled area for sure. But they seemed to have something extra that made them worth giving your attention, and that pays off in dividends on this devastating eight-track new record. Over the past two years, the band certainly has grown and developed their own colors, and this is a great coming-out party for these guys, who have something fresh and vital to add to the post-metal, sludge world.

Beak coverBeak haven’t made gigantic alterations to their sound or anything. They just play better now and have a ton more confidence. When their music explodes, you can feel it in your guts, and they have a conviction and energy that’s infectious and real. The fellows making up the band–vocalist/guitarist Jon Slusher, guitarist Andy Bosnak, bassist/backing vocalist Jason Goldberg, drummer Chris Eichenseer–sound like they’re ready to make a gigantic dent in the metal world, and “Let Time Begin” is a devastating new step that should leave like-minded bands in the dust.

“Souls in Streams” gets things off to a massive start, with noise spilling over, vicious guitar chugging, and brutal vocals that flat-out destroy. In fact, the vocals are an area of vast improvement, not that they were bad on the EP at all. They’re just better here. “Light Outside” lets guitars trickle in lightly before the sludge just rips and everything gets dumped into the lava. Forceful shouts punch holes, a cool synth glaze emerges for an alien feel, and the whole thing punishes hard. “The Breath of Universe” is a really interesting one, with cosmic Vocoder-splashed vocals giving the song a Cynic feel, and the muddy warfare going on elsewhere making like something out of Neurosis’ camp. It’s a track that balances colorful texture and all-out devastation perfectly. The title cut has more of a rock feel to it, though it doesn’t skimp on the heaviness either. There is cleaner singing here that works great with the tones, psychedelic keys behind the crunch, and just a little hint of Pink Floyd for good measure.

“Into the Light” is the longest cut at 7:05, and it makes the most out of its running time, opening with all guns blazing before settling into a little outer space wonder. Key woosh, while the guitars burn over top of them, and furious growls persist through all of this. “Carry a Fire” has a sci-fi bend to it when it begins, but all of a sudden the lid is ripped off, and the band starts mauling harder than anywhere else to this point. The sound is just massive, and their playing can be cathartic if you get lost in all of their tumult, giving you another reason to indulge in this track other than pure heaviness. “Over the Shelter, the Morning Breaks” is a calm before the storm, a short, tranquil bridge that leads to the thunderous closer “Fiery They Rose.” The track begins delivering heavy body blows before it pulls back some and calms down. But it’s a ruse as the band starts an assault that will rip the breath from your lungs and have you running for shelter. They destroy everything in front of them, with the atmosphere smothering you, along with hulking madness and a pace set to kill. Finally, mercy is bestowed, as the song dissolves into watery sequences, the music drizzles, and intergalactic synth sweeps everything into the stars.

Beak sound poised and ready to jump to the next level, and they have a killer new slab in “Let Time Begin” to get them there. From my first listen on, I felt like this record was a pivotal one for them, an album that should wake up people who don’t know about the band yet and cement the affection for those who have been around since the first EP and even before. This record is a smasher, and they should be super proud to unleash this beast on the world.

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