Let’s begin with the most immediately apparent accolade for the new EP by Bisonhammer (which is entitled Bisonhammer III): The cover art rules. In fact, I recommend that you click on the image above in order to see a larger version of the art, which was created by Loren Fetterman. I’ll wait.
Okay, now let’s move on to the music: It’s awfully impressive, too.
Bisonhammer are from Manchester, England, and Bisonhammer III is (duh) the third EP they’ve created so far. All three are available for streaming and download on Bandcamp (with the first two available for free or pay-what-you-want).
The new one consists of four songs, and they run roughshod through your cranium in a tidy 16 minutes total. However, they resist tidy genre classification. The music is part thrash, part raunchy death metal, part sludgy Southern rock, part groove metal, part stoner. What pulls all of these influences together is the band’s knack for writing some big-ass riffs and loading up the songs with some mighty sharp hooks.
The opening song, “Wall To Wall Bastards” is probably the most straight-forward song, and the most irresistible. Anchored by thick, ropey riffage and skull-cracking percussion, it’s an up-tempo jam that I can fault only for ending too soon — I could have done with plenty more of what it was delivering. Made me feel like I was astride a big fuckin’ Harley in an alcohol haze, eating up the pavement — with a gorilla on board pounding my neck with both fists.
(This is just my imagination at work, of course, because I am too much of a geek to have ever been on a Harley. Also, no gorillaz. Not now, not ever. However, I do have near-daily experience with the alcohol haze, so there’s that.)
The other three songs are also high-energy rippers, but with lots more tempo dynamics, especially on the long second song, “Death and Glory”, which turns on a dime between accelerated racing, club-footed stomps, and other forms of mind-fuckery (e.g., at times, the song has an almost funky feel, too). And “MK Ultra” includes bouts of jagged staccato riffing alongside heavy, rumbling chugs.
I admit I felt a little crossed up by these songs, like when I order ice-cold vodka neat and get kicked in the nuts instead.
The vocals are as multifaceted as the rhythms. Gary Harkin switches around within each song between harsh howls verging on screams, bearlike guttural roars, and a variety of clean vox — and does himself proud with all the styles.
Bisonhammer’s music has the earmarks of something that would be some rawkous fun in a live setting, though it’s pretty sweet in bits and bytes, too. It’s got punch and bad attitude and respect for the power of the riff. Definitely worth checking out.