Originally written by Kris Yancey
Add Bison B.C. to a slowly-expanding list of great modern stoner-sludge metal bands.
What makes the average sludge band a good sludge band is the art of the riff, an art Bison B.C. has a pretty good hold on. From subtle guitar squeals to trilled militaristic flourishes to post-rock noodling, there’s lots of fun stuff to be had on Quiet Earth, and it’s all implemented with a monstrous guitar tone. I’m thinking Valient Thorr with more fuzz and more testosterone (were such a thing possible), a mammoth force of nature that tramples everything in its path, save but for those sharp enough to get out of its path.
What makes the good sludge band a great sludge band is the arrangement of the music, and truth be told, Bison keep me engaged for the entire album. There is a clear contrast from the smothering, clobbering staple doom riffs from the brighter, more melodic interludes and malicious breakdown riffs; what’s more, the juxtaposition of these elements doesn’t sound forced. These bizarre, sluggish tunes slapped together with harmonious leads couldn’t sound more monolithic if they tried.
Take for instance the opening violin in “Wendigo Pt. 1 (Quest for Fire)” versus its metalized counterpart. The buildup in that opening minute of this eight-minute plus romp begs for fist-pumping, head-banging bliss when it explodes into the main song. Better yet, take the lead in “Slow Hand of Death,” a gloomy Iommi-esque guitar storm atop a simple-yet-effective ascending chord progression. But hey, I could go on for a long time about the strangely intoxicating melodies in the opening of “Medication” or the sack of batteries to the head that is the title track. This is really an experience, one that happens none too often anymore in the proliferating age of mediocre metalcore and unsatisfactory brutal death metal.
You know what Bison B.C. is? It’s the sound of a band that has respect for the riff first and foremost, and knows how to use it to its fullest effect. Consider Bison B.C.’s Quiet Earth a double-horns worthy candidate for album of the year; if not, it’s at least the best thing the genre has offered all year, and that’s saying something.