Metal is often misjudged. With it’s high levels of distortion, manic, often indecipherable vocals and ear blistering volume, Metal has by far the highest barrier of entry of all the 21st century popular genres. The sheer uncompromising brutality of it all creates a thick crust surrounding the niche that is rock hard to penetrate, like a metallic Oyster shell made of sound. The irony is that it is this barbed wire battlement that endears it to is followers as much as it alienates the rest of humanity.
It has become a sanctuary for the lost and the damned, the dazed and the confused, the hairy and the sweaty. It is the safe haven that guards against the conformity of the masses, the place where the misfit may walk unguarded and unjudged. It keeps them in as much as it keeps everyone else out.
But what would people find if they worked hard enough to crack the shell? What revelations await the person who refuses to allow the lazy clichés to stop them on their quest for musical enlightenment? Well if you took the time to listen to most bands of the genre then you might find that the noise and distortion hides a far more sensitive centre. For all of the anger and rage that has come to define the genre over the years, it is the themes of isolation, mortality and self loathing that dominate the mind of the metal fan. And if you listen to the début of Beautality and listen to it properly, you might just find your preconceptions of metal challenged. The question is, will you accept?
The first song starts out with a slow, slightly off key, almost acoustic but not quite, guitar riff. The kind of sound you expect a broken toy soldier to make with a busted guitar. This is usually the kind of sound associated with a tragic ending, but Beautality seem to have created an album in reverse and given us a tragic beginning. Wait for half a minute or so and the more familiar sound of a double bass drum roll and battle cry scream herald the coming of the thrash.
This is the kind of duality the band bases itself around and one that it excells in. The way they always seem to be asking an impossible question and taking you on a journey with them to answer it. There are always multiple levels of understanding reflected by the constantly changing movements. They transfer from melodic ethereal beauty to staggering power sometimes with near jarring abruptness but always with an ease that is remarkable for a band so early in their career.
It is in these moments, the juxtaposition of the soft and the heavy, the sorrow and anger, that the band finds its true calling. Each track becomes a coin spinning through the air, always changing the side of exposure, from blissed out fantasy to relentless beatdown; the band calls itself Beautality after this very dynamic as they provide the morphine to go with the adrenalin; in other words, a beautiful brutality. It is their philosophy, their mantra and the very thing that, like System of a Down before them, sets them apart from the crowd.
And it isn’t just the quiet-LOUD-quiet that sets this band apart. The technical proficiency (especially in the drumming) is remarkable to behold. They often draw comparisons to veterans of the style, mainly from the likes of Machine Head and As I Lay Dying. This really is the highest compliment I could pay to a band like this one. Ambition in form, composure and songwriting is all well and good but without the skill to make these journeys come alive you really are setting off on a world tour with stalled engine. Meaning that where other bands struggle uphill, Beautality soar.
All of this makes the above sentiment, about how closed off metal is from the rest of the world, especially tragic. It means that even if this band get to become as big as their genre allows, their songs will never have the appreciation they deserve. The masses, upon hearing the first distorted riff will be too lazy to break through the mental wall, unwilling to put their minds through such a trial. This will mean that this music will remain the privileged of the few loyal defenders of the metal faith. And you of course if your mind is open enough.