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Bison b.c. - "Quiet Earth" (CD)

Bison b.c. - "Quiet Earth" CD cover image

"Quiet Earth" track listing:

1. Primal Emptiness Of Outer Space
2. Dark Towers
3. Slow Hand Of Death
4. Wendigo Pt 1 (Quest For Fire)
5. These Are My Dress Clothes
6. Wendigo Pt 2 (Cursed To Roam)
7. Medication
8. Quiet Earth

Reviewed by on November 24, 2008

"'...like Black Sabbath and Diamond Head in a fistfight.'"

They just added "B.C." to their name, but Vancouver's Bison B.C. could hail from Tennessee or Georgia. On their first album, "Quiet Earth," they practice a muscular, sludgy, heavier-than-you style, perfected down south by acts like Rwake and Mastodon. It’s got just enough chug and boogie to get those affectless hipsters off their bar stools, but it’s heavy on the savagery because they're really playing for the road worn mercenaries with wind milling their hair in the front, not to mention the kids next door with pockets full of Magic cards who are suddenly all starting bands tomorrow.

A patriotic British Columbian like myself would love to say the major B.C. influence is the world class dope, but Bison B.C. feel like far more of a beer fueled band. Sure, they're sludgy, and these riffs would be stoner metal or even doom if you slowed them down enough, but what's really going on here is pure freewheeling mayhem. "Quiet Earth" sounds a lot like early Mastodon, but Bison B.C. mix it up with a swaggering, righteous bar band edge. Though they handle their instruments with a prog-rocker's precision, they don't write songs to show it off. As they blast through these sludgy, churning compositions the craft is more than evident, but what's even more up-front is Bison B.C.'s enjoyment.

When they sound too much like "Remission"-era Mastodon, that's easily forgivable because old Mastodon really kicks out the jams. This album's only significant downfall isn't how Bison B.C. brandish their influences, but more the lack of variety in these songs. The steady, energetic rhythms and precise, wailing guitar harmonies carry every individual tune, but the only major difference between these eight lengthy tunes is the catchiness of the riffs.

Hey, riffs! I was just talking about you. "Slow Hand Of Death" is a serious standout in that realm, with a series of plodding, massively heavy guitar parts. Eventually it speeds up into an acid-drenched guitar solo out of some 80s-themed nightmare, like Black Sabbath and Diamond Head in a fistfight. "Wendigo Pt. 2" also goes way beyond the call of duty, taking a similar rapid-fire solo and bends it into a galloping thrash rhythm, with some spectacularly shreddy call-and-response melodies along the way. I'm not breathing too heavy over the quiet string intro to "Wendigo Pt. 1," though. This is 2008. You're not some kind of intellectual just for putting a soft intro in your thrash song.

For all their beastly misfit energy, Bison B.C. are a professional bunch, doing great work with a great list of influences. "Quiet Earth" won't change the way you think about eardrum bleeding, but it's a fine album. Let's hope they get their animal husbandry permits sorted out, so we can finally see these rumored live bison released into the mosh pit.

Highs: Incredibly tight full-band interplay and ruminant-sized riffs.

Lows: Songs that blend together during a casual listen, and go a bit long.

Bottom line: Righteous sludgy thrash. Throw it on when the party's slowing down.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)