British Columbia-based quartet Bison B.C. are heavy. Like, really fucking heavy. That’s about the only reliable pigeonhole these guys fit under. Sure, wordy numpties like myself might sit around analysing a record like Dark Ages, flinging around verbiage describing how it brings together stoner rock grooves, doom metal heaviness, hardcore punk aggression and Neurosis-esque levels of sheer, monumental weight, but one suspects that such considerations never enter into the band’s heads. I reckon they turn up at the rehearsal room, crank out a tune, and the only criteria for assessment involved is the simple question, “Did that kick ass? Yeah? Okay then, next song.”
That’s not to sell these guys short in terms of songcraft or ability, however – it’s obvious that Bison B.C. put a lot of effort into making sure their songs kick the absolute maximum possible amount of ass. Just the level of diversity evident within the 7 tracks that make up Dark Ages attest to that – for instance, check out ‘Fear Cave’, which after a Mastodon-esque opening, settles into a doom-laden dirge with the vocalist howling like a Kraken rising from the depths – then, suddenly, the track erupts into up-tempo, hardcore-on-steroids ferocity, raging away before dropping, exhausted, into a cymbals-and-pick-scrape-laden noisescape, then gathering steam once more and lurching into a monstrously groovy stoner rock mode. See also pithily-named ‘Melody, This Is For You’, which opens with a malevolently rumbling bassline, tortuous pick-scrapes and monolithic avalanches of power chords delivered at at a pace that puts one in mind of being beaten up by a golem in slow motion, before the song gathers pace and takes on a character more akin to being trampled by a herd of stampeding buffalo.
Take note that the band do all of this without recourse to flashy technicality, progressive influences or any other such namby-pamby shit. James Farwell roars his lyrics with an intensity that suggests the words are like fishhooks in his throat, while his and Dan And’s riffage is direct, punchy, take-no-prisoners material from start to finish. The rhythm section of bassist Masa Anzai and drummer Brad Mackinnon do sterling work in giving the material enormous weight, Mackinnon in particular attacking his kit with a Dale Crover-esque intensity that makes one think that his snare drum may possibly have fucked his wife. ‘Take The Next Exit’ is the closest the band come to showing off instrumentally, with a cool hammer-on-pull-off riff soaring over clattering drum fills in the latter part of the track before rumbling bass and building feedback swarm proceedings and drag the song into the murk, leaving the relatively gentle acoustic opening of ‘Wendigo Pt. 3 (Let Him Burn)’ to take its place. Then, of course, that track itself turns into a vortex of anguished roars, pummelling riffage and naked aggression.
I think I’ve painted enough of a picture about what to expect from Dark Ages. If you’re thirsty for unpretentious, balls-out, heavy-as-hell metal, this album is set to be the soundtrack to all your future raging keggers – just don’t come complaining to us at OneMetal if the adrenaine and testosterone unleashed by the record cause you to kick holes in your walls or anything.