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Bone Gnawer - "Feast of Flesh" (CD)

Bone Gnawer - "Feast of Flesh" CD cover image

"Feast of Flesh" track listing:

1. Feast Of Flesh
2. Sliced & Diced
3. Cannibal Cook-Out
4. Make You Die Slow
5. Hammer To The Skull
6. The Saw Is Family
7. Hatchet Face
8. Defleshed And Skinned
9. Anthropophagus Beast
10. The Lucky Ones Die First

Reviewed by on March 17, 2011

"'...in the end it’s all good, unclean cannibal fun, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.'"

Bone Gnawer is the latest project for death metal lifer and consummate front man Kam Lee to sink his gore-hungry incisors into. This band sees the former Massacre and Mantas main man collaborating with three musicians from Sweden, most notably Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, Ribspreader, Deranged et. al), who seems to be the go-to guy in Scandinavia when it comes to finding a rock steady studio musician. Johansson handles bass duties this time around, and is joined by Naglfar’s Morgan Lie on drums, while guitarist Ronnie Bjornstrom (Ribspreader, Those Who Bring the Torture) rounds out the band’s ranks on their first full length record, 2009’s “Feast of Flesh,” which was released by Singapore’s Pulverised Records. Cult metal heroes Killjoy of Necrophagia fame, Stevo Do Caixao from Impetigo, and Machetazo’s Dopi all make appearances in the guest vocal department.

From the outset, this disc offers what the cover art and the presence of Kam Lee and his Swedish counterparts promises—old school death metal, horror-themed lyrics, and a Swedish death metal tinge with a nod to bands like Cancer and Nirvana 2002. Lee brings his trademark death growls along with his catchy, simple, and direct gore-soaked rhyme schemes and tongue-in-cheek delivery. It’s cannibalistic death metal made by death metal lifers for death metal lifers. Fans of Ribspreader will note that it does sound a lot like Ribspreader if the band simply swapped out its vocalist for Lee, however. Don’t look for anything too deep in the lyrical department. Lee went to the AC/DC and KISS school of lyrical prose, i.e. if it rhymes and fits the tempo it’s in. Lines such as “I love the taste of human flesh, I love it raw ‘cause that’s the best”, taken from “Sliced and Diced” abound, along with standard but bludgeoning verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus death metal fare. Campy but enjoyable, it never deviates from the expected.

Bone Gnawer takes the best of classic death metal and dresses it up in a cannibal motif. “Cannibal Cook-Out” sounds like a variation on Obituary. This song is pure horror worship, old school devotion, and a tribute to B-movie disgust and gratuitous violence. The ridiculous shout along chorus is so catchy you can’t help but have fun with it. “Make You Die Slow,” a song about—wait for it—cannibals, this time of the Amazonian variety, is all hooks and barbs with no trace of technicality, just full on speed and blood red obsession.

“Hammer to the Skull” is a bit death-by-numbers, but then again Bone Gnawer never pretends to be anything but that. With that being said, while following a formula can make for good music and consistency, it can also make a band fade into the background, no matter how strong the songs might be, if only for the fact that nothing really jumps out and goes for the throat. Songs such as this one plod along exactly as we expect them to, so there’s no need to engage in active listening. Instead, it becomes an exercise in passivity. Guitarist Johansson has his own style, bouncy, dirty and undeniably Swedish death metal, but by the time the disc reaches the halfway point with tracks such as “The Saw is Family” and “Hatchet Face,” it all begins to sound like something that might be included in a C-rate slasher flick soundtrack because, while the vibe suits, it’s all just a bit too common. But in the end, it’s all good, drunken horror fun, nothing more.

Kam Lee’s vocal power or legacy can’t be overlooked, but it’s not enough to carry this one over the top and set these songs apart from the slew of old school and Swedish death metal acts out there. There’s nothing that screams “You absolutely need to hear this” or “essential.” It’s simply solid. While the press info goes on about what a super group Bone Gnawer is, it’s far from superior work. How many songs can you have about eating human flesh on one album? Yes, it’s a theme, but it gets tired if you actually pay attention to the lyrics. Here’s a drinking game for you—drink every time Lee grunts “flesh” or “meat.” Keep the ER on stomach pump alert for this one.

The album closes with “The Lucky Ones Die First,” and in the end it’s all good, unclean cannibal fun, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking. If you must have every release Kam Lee bellows on then put your money down. Otherwise stick to his back catalogue when he was doing something new rather than just imitating what he did in the past.

Highs: A mix of Swedish and old school death metal intertwined with the vocal stylings of one of the genre's founding fathers makes for a fine combination.

Lows: The lyrical side of this album gets old in a hurry.

Bottom line: This album is comprised of ten songs that are all variations on the same basic soundscape.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)