Music Reviews

Beaten Back to Pure

Southern Apocalypse


A lot of bands have taken to draping themselves in Southern iconography in a weak attempt to give themselves some blue-collar hell-raisin’ credibility. Most of these musicians suck. Utterly. In fact, being from the South myself, it becomes comical to see these buffoons parade across the stage in an unwitting parody to the true South. Luckily, Beaten Back to Pure is not one of those bands.

It takes a certain type of courage, a certain kind of swagger to put a Confederate flag on your album cover, as part of a larger suicide scene photograph, or name a song “Antietum” (which even begins with a vaguely military march cadence). Thankfully, again, there isn’t the whiff of pose about them. And while I’m ranting let me just say how fucking glad I am that Beaten Back to Pure fully understand the need for feral purity and dirt-encrusted, drunken sorrow to be the true cornerstones of doom metal. Their music creaks and rusts under its own weight. There’s no polish, no shine, plenty of spit and bile. Like a redneck Melvins, Beaten Back to Pure are so deeply enmeshed in their own individual aesthetic that they make no concessions or compromises.

Southern Apocalypse clocks in at around thirty minutes of animal hide, gunpowder, and self-loathing turned outward. It’s huge music. Bigger than Pig Champion. Bigger than Apocalypse Now. The guitars and bass are fuzzed out to the _n_th degree. The stench of brandy and blood assails the nostrils. Those vocals – subhuman retches and growls. So deep and scarred and snot-drenched, swear to fucking god, vocalist Ben Hogg, is one of the most original vocalists out their on the doom scene right now.

Steve Austin of Today is the Day produced this beautiful mess. He shares a name with redneck messiah Stone Cold Steve Austin. Just saying. Southern Apocalypse has tons of downbeat, downcast, sturm und drang with no shred of anything resembling hope (except for maybe the crowd noise at the start of “Acolyte”); Southern Apocalypse is a long torturous crawl to self-inflicted oblivion. They may thus take their place at the head of the doom class with Khanate and Warhorse.

I think it was Trouble who used to say that it’s harder to play slow than to play fast – Beaten Back to Pure proves that it’s better that way too.

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