Listen Up!

From Beyond: An Excellent 9-Minute Year

Once upon a time I fell in love with a band called Thunderkunt...because they were called Thunderkunt. What can I say? I am a man of simple pleasures.

Sadly, that band didn't quite hold its center, and from its decaying orbit send it slowly onto the sun rises From Beyond, helmed by former Kunters Robert McCarthy on guitar and vocals and drummer Richard Beeman. They're joined by former Unknown Locals singer Tony Kaelin on bass.

The debut EP is One Year, and it's 24 minutes of strange, lo-fi metal that dances the line between sludge, speed and even touches of grunge. Stylistically it's very different from the more punk-oriented work of Thunderkunt, with a distinct Black Sabbath influence being the most prevalent but also featuring Layne Stanley's bleak modernism woven amongst the primal approach.

"In a lot of ways, Thunderkunt was actually more of a departure stylistically for me than From Beyond," says McCarthy via e-mail. "Thunderkunt was the culmination of each member's ideas for what a punk band was meant to be.

"I've always wanted to be in a Sabbath-y metal band, it's why I picked up a guitar in the first place, but I've never had the opportunity because most musicians that I've worked with don't feel the same way or approach harder, heavier music the way I do," he adds.

Though much of One Year is solid if not spectacular carny rides through various metallic fun houses, the title track is a truly innovative and powerful tune that deserves having the EP named after it. In fact, I've come to consider the EP a single with three B-sides rather than a true album.

"One Year" is what would happen if you got Edward Ka-Spel, Eddie Vedder and Angus Young in a room, said, "Make it jazz...and fucked up" and came back a week later to see what their skeletons had left you.

Full of a hopeless desperation and slow crawl of doom, it's more like an audio ballet than a conventional song. At almost nine minutes long, it's the lengthiest track on the album, but From Beyond conducts it like a damn Mahler piece. It ebbs and flows amidst cutting guitars and McCarthy's caterwaul in a way that is almost cinematic.

"When I wrote that song in 2011, I had high hopes for 2012, the end of the world, etc.," says McCarthy. "The song is about the end of the world and what would happen to mankind if we became too dependent on soulless machines and not on our own abilities. I initially had this concept of the earth being just a giant revolving coffin, or planetary hearse, heading toward the sun, with the clock counting down until the collision.

"Musically, the song starts off in traditional doom fashion, but the ending is when things pick up, and we get to show off the more intense noise experimentation that I enjoy," he continues. "I play through an enormous wall of amps and speaker cabinets, and that song gives me the opportunity to turn them up to 12. The end of that song literally makes my hair stand on end; it can be terrifying and disorienting at the same time."

From Beyond is a band that still seems to be finding its feet, and the stark recordings feel more forced than preferred, as with Project Armageddon. Nonetheless, there's some real potential behind the boys, and if some aspiring producer can bottle their lightning, we might have a pretty impressive new metal band to worship.

From Beyond release One Year tonight at Fitzgerald's with St. Vitus, Dixie Witch, Venomous Maximus, Sanctus Bellum, TeXXXas, Pillcrusher and Pushmen.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner