Beaten To Death are more interesting than your favorite grindcore band. I’m not sorry. Actually, I’m sorry for assuming Beaten To Death wasn’t already your favorite grindcore band. (They’re definitely in my personal top five, probably tied for spot #1 with Full of Hell and Discordance Axis.) If you’ve listened to them, you know exactly what about them makes them one of the most creative bands in the wacky world of grind, but if not, here’s a little elevator pitch for you: imagine the technical aptitude of the aforementioned Discordance Axis or Maruta, but with the emotional and melodic sensibility of a very melancholic post-rock-influenced band like envy or Deafheaven. It probably shouldn’t work as well as it does, to be sure, but man oh man, does it ever fucking work.
I would say it’s a combination of three things that really make Beaten To Death hit it home on every track the way they do. First, they keep everything short and sweet; their longest album is 22 minutes and they only have four releases (well, three really, I’ll get to the fourth in the next paragraph) to their name across roughly nine years as a band. Second, the contrast between the foundation of their music – chunky, heavy-even-by-genre-standards grindcore that sits comfortably in the middle ground between the gooey death metal-infused stomp of aughts Napalm Death and the lithe, fluid, technical hyper-grind of Gridlink – and the post-rock accoutrements lets the band tug directly at the most emotional parts of your brain in a way that is somehow simultaneously uplifting and deeply blue at the same time that they’re hitting you with riff after riff that’s going directly to the lizard/neanderthal parts of the brain that make you make That Face every time a riff comes back but slower. Third – and this is the most important – all of their music is really fucking good. They just know how to write riffs and melodies and how to arrange them for maximum enjoyment, and everything just hits exactly as it should. There have been exactly zero clunkers on their last couple records.
Their upcoming fourth album, Agronomicon, is definitely their best album to date. The reasoning for this is simple: it has the largest portion of their best melodies, and the largest portion of their best riffs, and they’ve arranged them all very well. It is, in every sense of the word, a truly fantastic album, and a stellar – dare I say perfect? – example of a band knowing how to take their established sound and not switch it up too much while also staying fresh. I genuinely mean it when I say I really can’t wait for you guys to hear Agronomicon; it’s already an album I think is in the running for being one either the most critically acclaimed or criminally slept-on metal releases of early 2019 (the record comes out on December 24th, too late to be included on Best-Of lists for the year). And here from it, for you today, we have the premiere of”Extremely Run To The Hills,” which is (as is every song on Agronomicon) a stellar example of what makes Beaten To Death such a compelling band: great riffs, great melodies, and excellent (and unconventional) production come together into a band that has a voice unlike any other.
“Extremely Run To The Hills” demonstrates plenty of established Beaten-To-Death-isms to newcomers, while also showing off exactly why Agronomicon is so fucking good to returning listeners. The melody that appears in the track’s main refrain has a different character to it than their past work; the slight twang to it gives it a completely different feel than anything on their past records. The grind side of their sound, too, has taken on a mutation of sorts: past records would have presented something more technical and adept in place of the simple riff they return to. The contrast has gotten even more apparent, but both sides are still just as excellent as they ever were.
So, yeah, we’re back where we started. Beaten To Death are more interesting than your favorite grindcore band. If you didn’t get why I was saying that before, you certainly get it now. Thank me later. But for now, go binge-listen to their three releases in preparation for Agronomicon to drop on December 24th and blow your damn mind. That’s what I’ll be doing.