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They Ain't Ugly, But They Ain't Handsome Neither - 60%

DawnoftheShred, September 27th, 2010

The Handsome Beasts are one of the many mostly-forgotten British heavy metal bands of the early 80’s, having only borne a single album, Beastiality, before pretty much disappearing off everyone’s radar until the end of the decade (and as it would turn out, pretty much forever). Sometimes digging up these lost albums yields buried musical treasure. In the Beasts’ case, however, the enticing wooden chest is filled to the brim with trinkets and, though lost, isn’t necessarily going to be missed.

Naturally, it is the ridiculous cover art that draws in the potential listeners that stumble upon its existence (there’s a fat, hairy swine in a pig pen…and there’s a pretty big pig in there too!), but they might just stay for the straight-laced groove of the music within. These guys get lumped in with the NWOBHM movement, but I can’t help but feel that had more to do with their location than their actual sound, as Beastiality rocks a spiffy 70’s niche that’s a little dated compared to some of their contemporaries’ landmark work during this period. But while Iron Maiden and Witchfinder General were leaning towards darker realms and advancing the sound of metal as we know it, The Beasts were content to continue forging ahead the heavy, but decidedly cheerier brand of rock ‘n’ roll that Motorhead and the Nuge had cranked loud and proud throughout the previous decade. Simple blues-based riffs are the order of the (half) hour, paired with mostly laid-back tempos and attempts at catchy vocal hooks. Nothing particularly exciting or impressive, but with just enough gusto to keep the listener from going catatonic. Really, their ‘heavy metal’ credentials are arguable: a few borrowed Randy Rhoads licks are the only bite the Beasts have to offer on an otherwise inoffensive record. There’s some primo jamming to be found in the extended “Another Day” and a general consistency among the tracks, but nothing worth hunting down and bragging about when captured.

Maybe if the production wasn’t as flat or if singer Garry Dalway’s bark was as big as…well, his belly….then I could give a more confident thumbs-up to this release. As it stands, the Beasts do a decent impression of a great 70’s rock band. A curio if there ever was one.

Simplistic Yet Enjoyable - 65%

DeathRiderDoom, May 21st, 2009

Handsome Beasts - Beastiality

The Handsome Beasts were a pretty well-known NWOBHM act that enjoyed considerable (especially local) success and had a pretty loyal fanbase from what I understood. Their sound can be described of somewhat of a rougher version of well-known act Diamond Head, another NWOBHM stalwart. ‘Beastiality’ is their fairly well-known (if not just for the hilarious cover art) debut release.

Anyway, this collection of cuts is of decent quality, but maybe a little hindered by the quality of production, which fails to give the sound any real dynamism or impact. I particular enjoy the vocals of the now deceased (RIP) vocalist Gary Dalway, who has a considerable degree of talent. Overall, the sound is very much in the boogie-type classic NWOBHM, rather than the other variations on the style (thrashy, heavy metal etc.), and definitely retains that British 70’s rock feel.

I enjoy tracks like ‘One in a Crowd’, though I wonder how they would’ve benefited from stronger production. This is typical of their style with a variety of (admittedly simplistic) punchy guitar riffs coming through which though not exactly innovative, due the job well and carry through the band’s approach. The gallopy bass and snare antics in the main parts of the verse give the song somewhat of a Sabbath feel; something which is not uncommon in early NWOBHM. Galway’s delivery is kinda rough, but proves his ability in the “ooooooh” type bits which are typical of Diamond Head. This track is sort of the bands take on the ‘rock anthem’ type track, but very much tackled in their own way. I enjoy Galway’s screams too.

‘Local Heroes’ is the bands own anthem, with (presumably) self-referencing lyrics. These lyrics include “climbing the ladder of success” to become the top band. The verse riffage in this one is again simplistic, but again – effective, almost Ted Nugent-esque. Quite a simple song again, in the style typical of ‘The ‘Beasts’, but really fun, and would make a great party song. Galway has some great moments, while the drums come through really weak due to the poor production on this early release.

Overall, this NWOBHM act certainly has their own approach, however remain deeply entrenched in 70’s rock traditions – with touches of ‘Sabbath, and even The Who coming through at times, though I don’t know if this was the intention. Most material is simplistic and at a slower pace, yet the distinct sound the band has, along with the certain presence of Galway adds some spark and panache. Some great lyrics including in the track ‘Another Day’ with the overall sound of the album hampering much needed dynamics. This one’s worthy of checking out for NWOBHM fans but is pretty hard to find. Simplistic, yet enjoyable.

-DeathRiderDoom