Author & Punisher, whose real name is Tristan Stone, works by day as a mechanical engineer in San Diego. Harnessing these engineering skills after work, he has become known for making his own midi instruments and using them in his powerful live sets. This has a great visual effect, making him look like a tortured worker in a dystopian mega factory; Shouting hoarsely while forcefully pushing and pulling large steel levers. However, this setup has restricted him musically in the past. His albums can lack variation between tracks, as if they were all written around the capabilities of his on-stage setup – this means a lot of basic (but heavy) drum patterns and a lot of sliding bass.

‘Beastland’, Stone’s new album on Relapse Records, has brought a new energy to this established sound. From the first track, ‘Pharmacide’, the production on this record is a big step up from his previous efforts. Each song is nicely layered with bass, noise, and drones giving, a powerful wall-of-sound effect. ‘Nihil Strength’ and ‘Night Terror’ are the most aggressive tracks and provide a nice cathartic listen; the perfect soundtrack for the looming Berlin winter. Other tracks bring a lot more melody to the album and rely less on bass. The track “The Speaker is Systematically Blown” has an almost poppy chorus and ‘Narzene’ has vocals and a melody that brings to mind Babylon Zoo’s ‘Spaceman’ (in a good way…). This variation from song to song means the 8 tracks sail by nicely from start to finish.

I really enjoyed the direction Stone took his sound in on this album and I look forward to hearing any future efforts from him. Unfortunately, Berlin was not part of the ‘Beastland’ tour but I will be keen to hear how these new tracks translate to the live setup whenever he does return to our glorious city.