01. An Old Friend
02. Anxiety Puke / Lovelessness
03. Last and First Things
04. Blood Music
05. Clozapine Dream
06. Finally Asleep
[Metal Blade Records]
While the main complaints listeners opine when discussing an album usually revolve around discrepancies in songwriting, vocal style and/or production quality, some bands perform so strongly in one or two of these departments that their weaknesses can be forgiven. A personal example: Rorschach’s superb powerviolence/metallic hardcore makes up for some fairly horrendous vocals. Unfortunately for Bison BC, their newest release Lovelessness doesn’t allow the listener this option of tolerance due to a severe lacking in all three of these categories.
On their fourth release, this Canadian group’s brand of southern tinged sludgy doom finds a notable flaw with its production. The guitars adapt a rather underwhelming and mild tone that impedes upon the musical moods Bison B.C. attempt to capture. Most of the heavy sections on the album fail to capture the bite of bands such as Electric Wizard or Sunn O))), causing otherwise decent riffs to feel flat and empty. Conversely, the more melodic passages become muddy and lost within a wall of riffs and moderate sludge. It sounds as if a feedback-ridden Earth track from one of their nineties releases is layered over a melodic southern drone from their more recent albums, leading to a shoddy representation of both approaches to performing doom.
It may have been helpful for Bison BC to have taken cues from Pallbearer’s debut from earlier this year, Sorrow and Extinction, regarding both production and songwriting. Not only does Pallbearer succeed in balancing heavy and melodic riffs and assuring both sound spectacular, they also avoid the choppy and poor nature of the tracks on Lovelessness by creating songs that feel structurally complete. Whether it’s the obnoxious dual guitar leads on ‘An Old Friend’ or the many blunt transitions between the uninteresting parts of ‘Anxiety Puke / Lovelessness,’ Bison BC seems more content on recording ideas rather than fluent, enjoyable songs. Even on the shortest and most focused track, ‘Clozapine Dream,’ the music drags on and loses appeal quickly.
The single most unappealing aspect of the album by far though is the vocal delivery. The cross between a strained yell and drunken shout is utterly annoying, and while it may fit the music, it does nothing to add to the songs and grows tiresome early on in the album. Quite frankly, Lovelessness may have been slightly more enjoyable if made entirely instrumental. At least that way the listener could mildly endure the music without losing patience with the vocalist’s sorry attempt to scream.
Ultimately, other than some occasional points of interest like the thrashy riffing on ‘Finally Asleep,’ Lovelessness does nothing particularly new or noteworthy. Listeners who enjoy Mastodon or High on Fire may find this release worth a listen, but overall, it seems unlikely that Bison BC’s newest will trump purchases of countless other worthwhile sludge and doom releases from this year alone. What was surely intended to resemble a robust bison herd galloping through a breathtaking tunnel of evergreens has unfortunately materialized into a single buffalo carcass rotting on a barren plane.
Bison B.C. – Lovelessness gets…