Bison B.C. – Dark Ages   1 comment

It is very rare when I hear anything from the Metal Blade label that I like but every label has a jewel in the rough and with Metal Blade it is Bison b.c. When first hearing this my first thoughts were, damn I hope Matt Pike knows what he has done as in the last year or so there has been an incredible influx of bands that sound like High On Fire, some more than others but the influence is there. Bison b.c are another band that have the stoner, sludge, doom, thrash, hardcore, metal crossover thing going on and they are one of the best I have heard at doing it. When you think of Canada you think of 70’s icons like Rush and Heart, you don’t really think of stoner, sludge and certainly not doom but Canada has its fair share of killer acts in those genres, it just takes some effort on your part to seek them out. Along with High On Fire, Bison b.c also have strong elements that remind me of Baroness, Mastodon and Kylesa but they also have their own thing going. Bison b.c have a great combination of anger, power, energy and downright sludgy grooves on this album, more so than on the past releases, “Earthbound” and “Quiet Earth” which were solid efforts but this sounds a bit more complete all the way through.

The album opener, “Stressed Elephant,” throws gigantic sludge-filled riffs in all directions while drummer Brad MacKinnon brutally assaults his kit. Guitarist and vocalist James Gnarwell screams to where his voice seems to be at a breaking point but what drives this 8 minutes is the combination of killer riffs that blend together making it sound almost effortless, nothing sounds forced and everything flows with controlled intensity. “Fear Cave” however brings in more a doom element with a plodding atmosphere and crippling breaks and outro’s. “Melody, This is for You” begins with nearly 4 minutes of instrumental of stoner doom riffery before heading into a fierce metal assault for the rest of the tune. Changes within the song are seamless and the variations come and go constantly keeping things moving so it never gets stale. Bison b.c like to stretch their songs out to past the 6 minute mark with nearly every tune but they have almost songs within songs and you have to admire their ability to blend infectious hooks with inventive metal arrangements. “Two-Day Booze” picks up the pace and is thunderous and is aggressive, it also has a live atmosphere, something that sets this album apart from High On Fire, Baroness and Mastodon albums. “Die of Devotion” is the first and only time the album presents anything that could be heard as filler, this track always seems instantly forgettable to me and even now I can’t think of a single word to say about it.

“Take the Next Exit” has some interesting time changes but soon runs off the rails but the first couple of minutes slay. The album closer however is a major highlight, “Wendigo Pt. 3 (Let Him Burn)” drops down a gear, raises the groove level a notch and burns along for over 7 impeccable minutes of doom-laced stoner-metal. One thing that always screws me over with the “Dark Ages” is it only has 7 songs but every time I listen to it I always think I have just listened to at least 12. The seamless way they bring in tempo changes and riff variations gives off the impression there is much more going on than there actually is. The album from a production point of view is awesome, it has a live vibe about that puts you front row and center. Bison’s sound is straightforward and primal but with a great amount of taste and energetic inventiveness but if there is a problem it would be the album lacks consistency with the first half sounding stronger than the second. Bands quite often put their better songs up first on an album and it seems to have happen here as well but there is still some great riffs and grooves and should appeal to a range of metal listeners. They come from Canada but with a sound like this, they would feel right at home down south of the U.S.A. Check this album out, it rocks and is also a great fun album to sink a few beers with………8/10
Bison B.C. @ Facebook
Metal Blade artist’s page
Metal Blade Records


Posted October 28, 2010 by doommantia in Bison B.C.

One response to “Bison B.C. – Dark Ages

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  1. Yes yes, great album, love it!

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