Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bone Sickness - Alone In The Grave [2013]

The fact that the album art, song names and album title (not to mention the band's name itself) reek of cloudy, repetitive old school death metal may put off even the most zealous of listeners, but for those of you who are still tedious about giving this a listen: don't worry because Bone Sickness make for a surprisingly entertaining death/grind feast. Certainly, the OSDM revivalists today can be broadly aggregated into two groups; the bulging, murky ones whose heads are deep in an unmitigated avidity of Incantation, and the more bombastic groups who mainly emerge from Sweden, portraying the chainsaws and gnawed bone necklaces exactly the way their Swedish forefathers had envisioned in the late 80's. Of course, there is lesser margin in between these two coarse classifications - bands who drool over the sloppy connotations of Autopsy, Obituary and  similar horror-worshiping gods of death. Bone Sickness' formula adheres with the latter, with some additional influences that should gather Repulsion and Napalm Death fans under a gory, corpse-strewn banner.

The fact that we're not getting direct vibrations of Entombed, Grave and Dismember is pleasing notion, but it's not like the band is reinventing the wheel here. On the contrary, Bone Sickness' aesthetic facets lean directly towards the less frequently rehashed riffing patterns of the bands listed above, which makes for only a slightly more fresh listen. But despite the odds, I was impressed by the fairly diverse range of dynamics here; the band can braise simple chugging patterns with utterly dilapidated production values to churn out something messy, and, with the added clamor of the spiking drums, something sicker and catchier than you'd expect. I think the real treat here was not the range of riffing - we've all heard a good many of those sloppy, carnal ruptures - but the band's ability to shift so easily in between tempos, and providing the ultimate gate feast that's robust enough to draw the attention of even the most unwilling of listener. Take ''Alone in Grave'', for instance; the tune begins with rumbling death/doom trudge heavy enough to shake your bowels, and then promptly dives into mid-paced territory, followed by a razor-sharp flurry of flailing bones and limps and frivolous leads, and finally settling back to the turtle pace it had started with.

The lyrics and themes are nothing out of the ordinary, vivid images of gore, violence and ghastly tales from the grave that rock with such a staunch and monstrous attack of riffs that I'm almost reminded of Entombed/Nihilist. In addition to the doom-trodden preferences, Bone Sickness also deliver a chock load of punches with infectious, yet crunchy thrash momentum (''Tied To The Stake''), or completely straightforward grindcore impulses redolent of ''Horrified'', ''Horror Of The Zombies'' and ''Impulse To Destroy'' (''Strange Obsession''), but with tracks no longer than 3 and a half minutes, you'll get the idea anyway. Unfortunately, I felt a little uncomfortable about the length of the material with just seven tracks ranging at 18 minutes. Last but not least, the vocal inflections that constantly shifted from bulbous Chris Barnes gutturals with the occasional nasty barks to throatier Van Drunnen-esque screams were no way near terrific, but I would consider them to be an unwanted aspect, either. ''Alone In The Grave'' can be therefore more closely associated with a newer string of bands like Black Jesus, Abysme or Gruesome Stuff Relish rather than directly being associated with the aforementioned gods of death and grind. It's certainly not without its flaws, but it's still something relatively fresher than the stuff we're smothered by these days.

Paranoid Delusions
Alone In The Grave
Death and Dismemberment

Rating: 76%

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