Contrary to popular belief, extreme metal can be a hugely entertaining genre of music. It’s not (only) made for the scary kids who wear Cannibal Corpse shirts, any open-minded fan of music can uncover pleasures within the genre, beyond the obvious appeals of transgression and taboo breaking.
Beggar understand this. They play with a sense of joy that’s hugely infectious, ripping through solos, meaty riffs, and guttural howls like a band with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s never anything but fun to listen to, even if their commitment to genre mashing isn’t always the most elegantly arranged.
Their sound is predominantly a mix of two styles. One is a mid-tempo variant of death metal that’s hugely popular at the moment, from Liverpool’s Video Nasties to Australia’s Crave Death. It’s death metal with the focus taken away from simply bludgeoning the listener with its ugliness and aimed towards something much tighter and more groove-based.
Their other style is a sort of dirty sludge metal, similar to Eyehategod or Crowbar. Bluesy riffs frequently appear amidst the screams and double kick drums, creating a curious genre mixture that’s technically proficient and necessarily brutal, though isn’t actually responsible for the most interesting moments on ‘Compelled To Repeat’.
The album reaches its high point on ‘Trepanned Head Stares At The Sun’. It goes all in on both genre fronts, moving from blast beats and shrill screams into a sludgier middle act, but then introduces a haunting section of chiming, Isis-style guitars. It fully commits to its genre mash-up, and then goes one further by introducing these strange and unexpected melodies.
‘Anaesthete’ plays out similarly. Its final stretch is another of the album’s strongest moments, full of bright and eerie guitars that drag us towards a blackened sun. Again, the textures here are very post-metal, and these are the moments where ‘Compelled To Repeat’ becomes the most interesting.
One of the aforementioned pleasures to be found within extreme metal is its capacity to surprise. Of course it’s fun to hear familiar ideas performed by talented musicians, but it’s the inherent artistic freedom that metal allows that’s the real joy to be discovered therein.
Beggar clearly adore the genres that their sound is so indebted to. But, going ahead, it’ll be interesting to see how they can deconstruct and experiment with them. If they can continue down this open-minded route, as displayed on ‘Compelled To Repeat’‘s finest moments, then the sky is truly their limit.