Heavy metal has never been accused of putting forward the most positive outlook on life. It’s a genre largely built as an outlet for the disaffected – from the working classes of industrial towns to the repressed youth of the world’s dictatorships. Anger is built into the genre, its very sounds designed to express frustration and shout the pains of alienated generations. So it is no small feat that, against the backdrop of decades of vitriol, Canadian dirtbags Bison B.C. have managed to put out one of the angriest, bleakest records I have heard in a long time. Lovelessness exemplifies its title, taking Bison’s huge sludge stomp to new expanses and filling them with an oozing repulsion.
The riffs on this album grab you like a truck grabs a cyclist, dragging you through miles of abrasive suffering, grinding you down slowly, cell by cell, until jumping to full speed and tossing you around like a ragdoll. Guitarists James Farwell and Dan And are also fond of the harmonized lead, throwing them in liberally on either side of the thick, bludgeoning riffs that drive the album’s 6 tracks. The riffs never stretch into particularly complicated territory, always workmanlike and forward moving, but new riffs are puked forth so frequently that you won’t have the time to care. New drummer Matt Wood, also of fellow Vancouver sludge creeps Haggatha, hits the skins hard and fast, propelling the faster sections with straightforward thrashy/punky beats and pulsing like a sick heart during the cavernous slower sections. This is where he shines, as his control of the flow during these spacious moments is masterful. Heavy, minimal drumming in slower music is hard to pull off well, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to this record. Masa Anzai’s bass could stand to be a little more prominent, but there is only so much that bass can do in metal this dirty. It beefs up the low end, acting as the glue holding the whole mess together, but it never really stands out. Vocal duties are shared by the guitarists, who employ a throaty shout to spit their venom.
Each successive Bison album has had a slightly longer average track length, indicative of their letting songs breathe with open, crawling passages that last for aeons, taking a more prominent role in their songs. The pounding fury that gives them their namesake still exists in droves, but on this record we’re given more pause in between those moments where the tension builds more fully, rattling the listener all the more when it finally breaks with rage bursting forth. Bison is completely coming into their own sound; once a band that sounded like one of many Mastodon clones – albeit one of the better ones – they now retain only vestigial similarities inherent to occupying the same broad genre, possessing a gritty drive that marks anything they touch with the indignant trudge of Bison B.C.
The band lays its outlook bare on this record, making you feel it through the construction of their songs and a wall of sound that pushes forward relentlessly like a tidal wave. It’s an almost shamefully satisfying record, like smashing something in a brief spasm of rage. It’s a sick, twisted beast; a hate-drunk bull treating the human heart as a china shop, ill content until everything we value is ground to dust under hoof and horn.
About the Author
I grew up listening to a combination of whatever my friends listened to and whatever my parents thought was garbage, and eventually got into metal in the most hardcore way possible: I heard a Metallica song in a Dragon Ball Z music video. As an 11 year old, thought I had found the most badass thing in the world. I would later grow up to realize that 11 year olds are stupid. Since then, not only has my appreciation for music widened exponentially, but I’m pretty sure I could beat my 11 year old self up, too.Favourite genres: Progressive rock/metal, stoner rock/metal, sludge metal, power metal, traditional metal, jazz fusion, post-rock
Favourite bands: 3, Baroness, Bison BC, Blind Guardian, Boris, Clutch, The Company Band, Dark Suns, Disillusion, Earth, Earthless, Galactic, the Gathering, Iron Maiden, Kamchatka, Kamelot, King Hobo, Larry and His Flask, Lionize, Mastodon, Mono, Murder by Death, Opeth, Pain of Salvation, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Symphony X, Tom Waits, Ufomammut, William Elliott Whitmore