There's a ballad near the end of Beastwars' third and possibly final album.

A goddamn ballad, complete with flutes and acoustic guitars like the Wellington merchants of doom are performing while the residents of Hobbiton warm their feet around a cosy campfire.

Don't worry, Beastwars fans, it's actually a sign of ultra-confidence, because in The Death of All Things they are more fired-up and bludgeoning than they've ever been. Listen to Matt Hyde pour out his soul on Devils of Last Night, his gravelly howl outdoing the song's crushing grind.

Check out the way Witches builds slowly from its grungy beginnings into a blur of riffs and drums and gloom, while Hyde hollers: "Your forgiveness, it is gone."

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Listen to the crystal clear sludge of Disappear and bask in the knowledge that New Zealand's finest metal act are at the peak of their powers.

Yes, you might want to over-analyse Hyde's lyrics that apparently reference the feuding and fighting between band members that fuelled the album, leading them to take at least a year off after last Saturday's Auckland show.

Black Days? Devils of Last Night? The Death of All Things? Hyde is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, and here he rips it off, holds it out in his hand and lets you watch it bleed.

This is a mighty, mountainous metal album, and if it really is the last we hear of Beastwars, it's a hell of a way to say goodbye. As for that ballad, The Devil Took Her? It's pretty damned good.

Beastwars should probably do more of them. Let's hope they get the chance.

Review: Beastwars, The Death of All Things

Verdict:

If it's a swansong, it's a great one.