(Andy Synn presents this review of the new album by the Canadian band Bushwhacker. Full music stream included.)
Up next in my attempt to focus in more on the smaller, more unappreciated members of the international metal community, we’re off to the wild wastelands of Canada to check in with the inveterate proglodytes of Bushwhacker, whose wide palette of seamlessly integrated influences helps make their second album, The False Dilemma, an extremely rewarding listening experience.
Don’t get the wrong impression though. Despite describing this album as “rewarding”, this is no self-indulgent exercise in beard-stroking pretentiousness — this is an album that hits hard and makes no apologies for doing so, an album with riffs and balls and attitude up the yinyang… or wherever people keep their balls these days.
Marrying the rough-hewn riffage and proggy intricacies of someone like Cormorant and/or early Mastodon to the unorthodox heaviness and rhythmic sensibilities of everyone’s favourite Frenchmen in Gojira (along with a dash of something which sounds a lot like early Lamb of God to these ears), The False Dilemma is one of those rare albums that should appeal to a wide cross-section of listeners – it’s a little bit Prog, a little bit Death, a little bit Thrash, a little bit Groove… and more besides… – but does so without ever trying too hard to please or to be all things to all people.
The Canadian quartet have simply hit upon a particular formula, a particular recipe, which works for them, and are now running with it as far and as fast as they can.
And who can blame them? There’s just something so enervating and exciting about the material presented here!
From the gripping, high-intensity tumult of “Tower”, to the pugilistic, hook-heavy hammering of “Dead Man’s Waltz” (which showcases the first of many noticeably Gojira-esque touches in its frenetically focussed riffs and rhythms), and the groovily thrashable “Shikadance”, the first half of The False Dilemma seems to absolutely fly by in a near-constant stream of beefy, bombastic riffage, spiralling lead guitars, and increasingly more inventive and intelligent drum work, courtesy of drummer Sean Komaromi’s precise and propulsive performance behind the kit.
Thankfully, however, the band haven’t made the all-too-common mistake of front-loading things with all their best material, and the second-half of the album flows just as sweetly and organically as the first, beginning with the moody, prog-tinged portrait of “The Return”, before moving swiftly and effortlessly into the deliciously dense riff-orgy of “Perfection”.
Ending with the climactic pairing of the eponymous “Bushwhacker” and the climactic “Golden Shell”, the driving, semi-instrumental refrains of the former serve to push you relentlessly into the chunky churn and chop of the latter, which then proceeds to pound you down with a heavy rain of grindstone guitars and meaty, muscular rhythms that give no quarter, and ask none in return, providing a suitably powerful and punishingly groovable finale to what is, in the final reckoning, one heck of an impressive album.
Don’t let this one pass you by (like I almost did). You’ll regret it if you do!