An onslaught of heavy metal jam bands have emerged as of late, grabbing influence from the forefathers of doom, sludge, and stoner rock. Roused by the ascent of bands such as Torche and Baroness, a new breed of aptly-titled neanderthal metal has crept onto the scene, with Vancouver natives Bison B.C. leading the pack. Bison B.C. offers an unconventional mix of old-school punk and thrashy, swamp-water music that’s perfectly crushing on all counts. By absorbing unexpected elements and unusual song structures, the band’s latest offering, “Dark Ages”, is by all means a worthy effort.
The songs are long and nicely drawn out, faultlessly fusing the typical pall of classic doom metal and sludge. Each track stems from a heavy groove, which is particularly evident in “Melody, This is For You”: the 9-minute journey follows an instrumental swelling that, nearly three minutes in, gives way to fervent punk-inspired vocals and guttural howls. The ominous riffing evokes a certain iniquity, finishing the track off with a dawdling resonance. The punk-laden “Two-Day Booze” provides one of the album’s most memorable riffs, buried under simple drum work and charging vocal chants.
It is, however, the effort’s final track, “Wendigo Pt. 3 (Let Him Burn)” that is “Dark Ages” preeminent offering. The production quality of “Dark Ages” is surprisingly clear, imbued with a certain rawness that feels fresh and live. The musical shifts and tempo changes keep the sound interesting, alleviating the tedium of ordinary down-tuned distortion and will appeal to fans across the spectrum.