BISON B.C.’S LOVELESSNESS: FORGET WHAT THOSE DICKHEAD YAKS TOLD YOU
True to form, Bison B.C. is hairy, burly, lumbering, and grass-loving. And while he maybe isn’t the flashiest beast, our wooly steppe walker is about as solid as you could hope from any boulder sized chunk of bellowing feral beef. Forget what those dickhead yaks told you.
On Lovelessness, these dudes’ third long player, Bison B.C. is ever the nomad, traversing psych tweaked stoner rocks, doom sodden gullies, and weathering the occasional storm of thrash. It’s like if Orange Goblin got in a motorcycle accident and lost their knowledge of blues, while retaining perfect head-banging form. The template might also sound suspiciously like the High on Fire, but Bison’s tendency towards affirming, 80s aping leads, and a more exploratory (not to say disconnected) sense of song structure make the band more of a fellow traveler than a rip-off.
The payoffs are there; big sky payoffs. But for all its immense heaviness, Lovelessness is an album of patient, roaming songs. There are stampedes, sure, but also a lot of cud chewing. Opener “Old Friend” takes near six-and-a-half minutes, moving from (1) a harmonized lament to (2) a withering death march, followed by a (3) thrash clawed gallop which breaks into a (4) crunchy chorus stomp before going back to the death march and the gallop before flaming out with a squirrely triumph of a solo. When it’s done, there’s an intro class to entomology splattered on your windshield, and you know you should probably park it and take a breather at the next rest stop: you’ve been driving a long time.
The long haul mentality is laudable, but it has benefits and drawbacks. The dulled leaden force they bring to every sound means there are no sections that disappoint in isolation. The air of this recording is perfumed with grit, and the performances, especially from the rhythm section, are tighter and less tentative than their previous album Dark Ages. But sound and performance quality don’t necessarily justify the four-minute-long ascent to the vocal half of “Last and First Things.” Once you get to the drop off, you’ll find it’s as good a track for stomping as any, but you already spent too much time getting to the top of the roller coaster so it’s harder to enjoy the loops.
The same is not true of eleven-minute album centerpiece “Blood Music,” which hits its transitions and balances its parts without a hitch. The lumbering accretion from drone to doom in the first minutes never wanders off path. When the guitars start screeching mutilated sheets of siren wash at the song’s peak, we’re in new territory. The four minute cool-down even manages to fascinate. Note to Bison B.C. dudes: more like this.
On previous efforts, Bison B.C. has relied on punked-out, enthusiastically shredded takes on mid ‘80s heavies, from Maiden to Metallica. Lovelessness shows the band roaming the wilderness for something of their own. It’s a good lesson to learn, because when there’s no grass left on the plain you have to move on. In nature, you either eat, or you die.
(3 out of 5 horns)