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Inescapable Horror Under Beggar’s “Blood Moon” (Song Premiere)

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Beggar are a band that knows how to make an entrance. Their debut record Compelled to Repeat begins with a two-chord haymaker combo that, just as you’re beginning to regain your footing, goes all-in with a thorough bludgeoning of the mind and spirit. Hold your own against Beggar’s uncompromising battery, if you can, with our exclusive premiere of the album opener “Blood Moon” below.

It’s no coincidence that Beggar chose to initiate Compelled to Repeat, their first full-length album after an impressive string of EPs reaching back to 2013, with a song that contains a taste of nearly every bladed and blunt instrument in their toolbag. “It’s got a bit of everything — a big stomping groove, passages that are a little bit psych, passages that grind,” says vocalist and bassist Charlie Davis. “We wanted to combine some downtuned swagger with some really extreme harshness, so in a way, it’s a statement of intent for the rest of the record.”

That big stomping groove, which wouldn’t feel at all out of place in a Clutch song if they’d first been thrown headlong through a portal to hell, comes from guitarist and backing vocalist Jake Leyland. He wrote it “off the back of a fairly dark experience he had in Bangui,” says Davis, offering no further explanation as to what that experience contained. But given the sheer heft of this monstrous riff I’m content to speculate in lieu of hard details.

“Blood Moon” is also an apt primer on what Beggar can bring to the table vocally. The first voice heard on the record is a blackened howl, which about-faces into a passage of cave-diving lows before reaching back up into the upper register for the song’s proper first verse. Then, a riveting, all-pretense-aside full-throated battle cry rings out, creating in the midst of all this carnage the song’s most visceral and disturbing moment, simply by the force of its primal sincerity.

These vocal transitions are a reflection of the dual lyrical themes in the song. “It’s a song about transformation and alteration of the self, about constant, unbridled consumption of media and about the way in which our interaction with other people elides with our interaction with technology,” he explains. “At the same time, it’s also about berserk, cannibalistic bloodlust.” At no point in the song does the latter theme emerge quite so violently as it does in the surprise ending — you’ll know it when it eviscerates you.

When crafting the lyrics for “Blood Moon,” Davis found himself reaching to a variety of literary references — Ligotti’s nihilistic gothic horror as well as Deleuze and Guattari to inform his sense of where our society might be heading. “Used in this context, [the work of these authors] creates a grim kind of futurism that brings out how scary today’s creep in advertising or technology or faceless hyper-capitalism can seem,” explains Davis.

With personal privacy a fleeting remnant of a pre-digital past and digital fingerprinting and data mining increasingly standard as practice, Beggar struggle to keep a torch lit for clarity of the self. “Blood Moon” sets the opening themes for Compelled to Repeat as Davis and his bandmates ring out their warning loud and clear: “It’s a horror story about becoming something other than yourself, about the processes through which a person can become a monster.”

Compelled to Repeat releases on vinyl, CD, and digital on April 3 via APF Records.

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