Beware Of Wild Beasts
Continuing the recent trend of metal bands named after giant, hairy, dangerous animals, Vancouver’s own Bison B.C. returns with Dark Ages. While bands of this ilk can often be accused of sounding like a drunken Mastodon performing B-sides, Bison manages to separate themselves from the herd.
Opening with a massive Leslie speaker wash, “Stressed Elephant” quickly gives way to epic sludge and stoner-thrash riffs, and by the end of “Fear Cave,” the band has piled on so many layers and pushed the volume so high that you fear your speakers are about to explode. Simultaneously, throughout the record, Bison smuggles in some very beautiful acoustic guitar passages to lure you into a false sense of security. But the Bison is merely wiping its bloody horns in the grass, preparing to gore the listener again and again.
Guitarist Dan And has professed to being a fan of classic hardcore punk, and these influences shine through in “Two Day Booze,” with the genre’s trademark gang vocals supplementing guitarist/vocalist James Farwell’s raspy bellow. Later, as the first rush of “Take the Next Exit” flattens you, Bison channels classic Slayer so perfectly, you almost expect Tom Araya to show up. The album closes with the conclusion of the Wendigo saga begun on “Quiet Earth.” Now fully controlled by the cannibalistic Wendigo spirit, the protagonist returns to his village and devours his wife and daughter in the night. Hearing the screams, the villagers capture the man, drag him to the town square, and burn him at the stake, finally ending his tormented existence.
It’s been quite some time since a lumbering beast trampled in such an enjoyable way. With this effort, Bison B.C. has more than earned their place among the heavy metal leviathans.