Sick ’n tired of being force-fed over-produced radio rock? Wondering what the hell happened to rock’n’roll truth? Nah, you needn’t trawl through second-hand vinyl crates looking for your next high. It’s right here in Beast’s garage rock glory: the detuned bass guitars, the primitivist drums, and a feral rock’n’roll frontwoman brutalising the microphone.
It’s thrilling to hear Inge Beckmann finally shed Lark’s ethereal dark electro-diva veil for some ferociously dirty feline howls at the moon that bleed between the primal punk shriek of “Fill the Hole”, the nihilistic frock-rocked snarl of “Smoke Swig Swear” and the shamanistic religiosity of “Hand of God”.
The fuss amid all this minimalist sound and fury? Beckmann’s rage isn’t your rote sex, drugs ’n rock’n’roll recitation. Sure, she invokes some of Patti Smith’s animal instinct on “The Grape”. Or P.J. Harvey’s post-feminist autism on “Man In Between”. But if anything, she mainlines Joan Jett. It’s Jett’s “Fuck me? Fuck you!” unavailability that fuels the apocalyptic detachment of grunge blues revelation “Hand of God” and the arrhythmic thrust of punky pub rocker “Walls”.
Sure, their three-and-a-half-chord attacks that romp between lo-fi and no-fi are not for everyone. But Beast are not Mumford & Sons or Coldplay. Beast are one of those unapologetically ragged rock’n’roll bands that vomit out their feelings with such conviction that they make most contemporary South African rock bands sound simply unbelievable. When Beckmann, Zietsman (bass), Nel (bass) and Righnini (drums) rock, they rock hard, lean, mean and gloriously messy. It’s raw riff power – and while the duelling bass guitar riffs may not always gel with some of Beckmann’s more ostentatious lyrical ticks, Smoke Swig Swear has the vitality of a band that is primed to make you open up and really bleed.