Listen to Beastwars' new album chronicling vocalist's battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

(Image credit: David James)
Beastwars – IV

(Image credit: Beastwars / Destroy Records)

1. Raise the Sword
2. Wolves and Prey
3. Storms of Mars
4. This Mortal Decay
5. Omens
6. Sound of the Grave
7. The Traveller
8. Like Dried Blood

New Zealand heavyweights Beastwars return with new album, IX, and its an especially poignant record for the band as it chronicles vocalist Matt Hyde's battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. 

After undergoing six months of treatment in 2016, Hyde is thankfully not in remission from the disease – a form of cancer that starts in white blood cells – but his diagnosis and subsequent treatment understandably made a profound impact on his life and outlook.

The band's previous albums have provoked comparisons to Kyuss, Neurosis and Godflesh, and helped them secure a place as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from New Zealand and one of metal's best kept secrets. 

We spoke to Hyde to discuss his battle and the experience of loneliness and isolation caused by his treatment, to learn how the album helped him to express these feelings in a truly productive and astoundingly honest way.

You have said you felt numb while going through treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, how did that affect your song writing? Did you write any songs during your initial diagnosis, and did your approach change during and after treatment?

The chemotherapy treatment drugs created a feeling of “Brain Fog” with me, confusion and shattered thoughts so it was a condition that would happen regularly during the treatment. I was too ill from the period of diagnosis until I actually started treatment, it was maybe after my third chemotherapy session, we decided to make an album. From there, it was basically just ideas and feelings written into a diary that I would later use.

You have said you didn't make peace with the idea of mortality, despite confronting it head on and coming out the other side. Why is that?

It was more the idea and concepts of how I achieve a good death, at peace with myself and my life. The ability to let go and move on to where ever we may be going. At night in the dark, I would sometimes wake, and wonder is death just darkness? Our conscious still alive and active? That for some reason gave me great fear. How long would I be in that state? How long till nothing. Even death must die. Many puzzles, many questions I still contemplate, but I am very grateful to be in remission and given more time, it is a precise thing we call life.

How has your outlook on life changed in general since your diagnosis and treatment?

I'm forever grateful, really enjoy seeing my daughter continue to grow and enjoy life, really enjoying swimming every day, basically the seasons, the weather, the rain or a southerly wind when it comes up from Antarctica and hits Wellington or blue summer sky in February. Big weather I enjoy it even more than before.

Do you think your music has changed at all following your difficult experience?

Possibly my voice. That might have changed as I don't have as much power in my lungs as I once had, hence the reason why I swim and try to build my strength to become fitter. I really enjoy listening to old music, I like a visit from old friends and time. I am the same but different.

What songs are particularly poignant on the album? Did you find any of them particularly cathartic to write? Which ones?

Storms of Mars sticks out as it was the first song we recorded for the album and basically encapsulates what I’d been feeling up until the moment we pushed record. But I am deeply proud of Omens too. I think it’s a perfect Beastwars song. It has everything in it that I enjoy about the band.

Beastwars' IV is released 28 June 2019 on Destroy Records and you can stream it exclusively below: