Things got rough for the four friends trying to finish
' third album. Real rough.
"We had members who didn't want to be in the same room recording. I've never experienced anything like it in my life," says drummer Nathan Hickey, shaking his head at the memory.
Front man Matt Hyde agrees, saying the band "was in a bad place".
"It was our lowest moment of interacting as human beings. People were saying, 'I don't really need this, because this is shit'."
Turns out they did need it.
Hickey and Hide, along with guitarist Clayton Anderson, and bassist James Woods release the third Beastwars album today, the final act of a trilogy planned since they formed in the late 2000s.
Called The Death of All Things, it's full of sludgy metal riffage, Hyde's throaty roars and telling songs such as Black Days, Some Sell Their Souls and Devils of Last Night. It seethes with anger and intensity, like Beastwars are being forced to perform in Mt Doom's firepit while Sauron celebrates his birthday.
Everyone who made it, and everyone who has heard it, agrees it's the best Beastwars album yet.
Naturally, after a quickfire three-date tour, which kicks off tonight, they're going to go their separate ways.
Beastwars startedas a band that wanted to "hang out, make music, have a few beers and if you got to play a gig, that was a bonus".
Hickey and Anderson were jamming as an instrumental duo in 2006 when Hyde saw them perform in Wellington.
He turned up to their practice room, unleashed his deathly howl, Woods joined in with the carnage, and Beastwars was born.
Their self-titled debut arrived in 2011, attracting fans with their Kyuss-style riffage, and mountainous anthems like Lake of Fire and Call Out the Dead.
But their live shows were something else.
Hyde admits he sometimes used them to purge demons from his past.
"It's spiritual f***ing madness ... There have been moments like, 'What the f*** am I doing? This is insanity," he says.
Things got intense during the making of their second album, 2013's Blood Becomes Fire, when they moved into a house together, "staying up till 2am talking shit and drinking a couple of bottles of wine".
Relationships fractured, friendships were affected, and that spilled out of the studio, on to the road and into the creation of their third album.
Hyde: "I think it has to do with four people spending seven years together, their weekends, their nights off, going on tour, having the best days of their lives, having the worst days of their lives, and at the end of it, having to make a record together."
Hyde began writing intensely personal lyrics, some of which turned his frustrations with the band into songs.
"I was releasing all these different emotions: all the anger I had against them, or happiness, sadness, love.
"Some of that stuff was open wounds for me. You record it and say goodbye to those emotions and move on."
Treating the album like their last also helped, says Hickey.
"That was a good inspiration: if this is our last one, we have to put everything into it, bring the best out of every single moment."
Now that it's done, Hyde says he feels better than he's felt in years.
"The chapter's ended and I feel really relieved and happy. (It was) like an exorcism, totally an exorcism."
"Things are ending," says Hyde, near the end of our conversation. It's true.
After Saturday night's Auckland show, just one day after the release of The Death of All Things, Hickey will head overseas to join his girlfriend in Europe, and Beastwars will officially be on hiatus.
They don't know if there will be another Beastwars album, or when they'll tour again. But both Hyde and Hickey agree the break will be good for the band.
"It will make us appreciate each other. I know we'll always make music. We're not saying no to anything. It isn't our last tour, but it will be special for us. It will be the end of how the band operates at the moment."
The countdown has begun, but Hyde says their performance at Wellington's Homegrown festival proved Beastwars have put their dark days behind them.
"I hadn't seen all four members happy together for a long time, and it was a beautiful feeling," he says.
"I see these guys as my brothers: if you fight it's like fighting with your family, but when you're getting on nothing beats it.
"You can take on the world."
What: New album Death of All Things
On tour: April 22, San Fran, Wellington; April 23, Galatos, Auckland.