With two songs that feature violent coughing and vomiting, Chardiet makes the album's theme as obvious and literal as possible. The use of such repulsive sounds is a logical but uncomfortable extension of noise music's obsession with viscera—instead of expressing rage or anguish via extreme sound, Bestial Burden channels actual physical pain. Pharmakon has long been about breaking down boundaries between performer and audience, and her live shows are famous for sections where she steps into the crowd, screaming and thrashing at random people, making the whole room her stage. With this album she takes that idea into the studio, inviting us into her world of bodily torment.
As a result, most things on Bestial Burden sound a little unwell. Roaring guitar riffs bend and droop on "Intent Or Instinct," where Chardiet's black metal-style screeches get lost in wave after wave of thrust and thump, as if the music were dry heaving. On "Autoimmune," the distortion is white-hot, like the searing pain of cutting through flesh—an effect embellished by Chardiet's screams of "I'm a surgeon!" This abstract retelling of her ordeal is fraught with menace and fear—weathering Bestial Burden's blows and lacerations offers harrowing insight into the experience of having your body reject an organ.
Chardiet's story reaches its apex with the title track, where she bellows "I don't belong here" in increasingly deranged tones before the whole thing trails off into maniacal laughter. It's a strong performance that comes from a very real place of pain, but it also feels exaggerated—it is a performance, after all. Still, by injecting a self-serious genre with a sense of theatre, Bestial Burden makes Chardiet's music more engaging without dulling its edge.