Beastwars tops NZ album chart with IV

Beastwars has topped New Zealand's album chart with their latest record, which is also the Kiwi metal band's most meaningful work to date.

Having gone their separate ways after 2016's The Death Of All Things, the acclaimed sludge metal group decided to reform for IV as a way to help frontman Matt Hyde through his cancer treatment.

The singer was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at the age of 46, which led to Beastwars getting together for a few special gigs to help fund his treatment - but his battle against the deadly disease got creative juices flowing that just had to result in a new album.

Now IV has debuted at number one on the official NZ Music Charts and drummer Nathan 'Nato' Hickey tells Newshub it's an "incredible feeling".

"For a band that has been together for 13 years, it's crazy to be topping the charts at this stage of our career," says Hickey.

"It took Metallica making ...And Justice for All, also their fourth album, to get some chart action and win a Grammy. Who knows how far this one will take us."

Beastwars has gotten nominations at the New Zealand Music Awards and was shortlisted for the 2012 Taite Music Prize, but so far have only won once, for Best Album Artwork.

Critics are calling IV "possibly their most powerful and accomplished album", so perhaps they're in for more awards buzz in 2019.

Hyde's battle with cancer informing the album is also being emphasised by reviewers, observing things like: "[Beastwars] obviously came back together united around a purpose, and IV manifests that palpably for the listener".

Indeed, IV wouldn't have been released if it weren't for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma; a grim irony that isn't lost on the band.

"It's strange to think that this album wouldn't have existed if Matt hadn't got sick. We're so happy that he is now in remission and that he had the idea of making this album as something to look forward to when he was at his most ill," says Hickey.

"The lyrics are so powerful on this record. It really was a much needed emotional release for him to get out all his troubles through this music.

"It was such an intense album to make - obviously, with what Matt was going through, having just completed chemotherapy. But also, the band had broken up and we came together and rehearsed for 10 days then recorded for two or so weeks.

"We hadn't played together for 18 months before that so we are really proud of the result."

The band's hiatus hasn't meant fans have forgotten them, but Hickey is especially pleased that the new material appears to have really struck a chord.

"It's always great to see people going crazy at shows and bugging out to the new songs just as much as the older ones," he says.

"I think the video we released for 'Storms of Mars' a few weeks ago really resonated with people. People were singing along to that one at our recent shows which is pretty sweet thing to happen, being a brand new song.

"Obviously, it helped that the video had lyrics on it. We just really wanted people to understand every word that Matt was singing."

Beastwars have debuted their 4th album IV at the top of the NZ Top 40 Album Chart.
Beastwars. Photo credit: supplied / David James Photography

The latest IV single to get a music video is 'Wolves and Prey', which was released on Thursday.

"Our good friend Amber Beaton directed it and she said the song and title reminded her of one of the stories in the epic of Gilgamesh where the shepherd gets turned into a wolf," says Hickey.

"Then that also reminded her of a different time when she was interviewing Matt for a documentary we were making about our new album and he had told her that while he was doing chemotherapy he had to poison himself to get better.

"You have to turn into your own enemy in order to live. We love her videos so were pretty happy for her to make something freaky and dark, but also poetic."

The full 'Wolves and Prey' video is embedded below, while IV remains available to purchase and stream online.