It has been predicted that the year 2012 will end in disaster. Land will crumble into sea, flash floods will engulf cities and important buildings will collapse into thick clouds of concrete dust and rubble. Nature will finally wage her war on humanity and people will die. As bleak as it all sounds, I have the sneaking suspicion that if these predictions were to actually come to fruition the boys in Bison B.C. would be the first to crack open a beer and welcome the end of days.
Combining sludgy, down tuned thrash riffs with agonized hardcore barks and guttural growls, Dark Ages gives listeners an idea of what such a party might sound like. Dark and heavy yet surprisingly upbeat, this album takes everything that made its predecessor Quiet Earth so great and amplifies it. If Mastodon were a bunch of punks and Armageddonists instead of stoners, they might have churned out an album similar to Dark Ages.
The record opens with the standout track Stressed Elephant, an appropriately named beast of a song that tops off at just over 8 minutes long. Vocalist James Farwell barks out heartfelt lyrics as if his life depended on it, setting a thematic tone for the album by reminding us that we are all just “marching to our graves”. Highlighted by a forlorn sounding French horn and a rhythm section that trudges along like pounding footsteps, it gives the listener a good idea of what is to come without giving away too many details.
While Stressed Elephant is epic and emotive, songs like Fear Cave and Take the Next Exit probably best showcase Bison B.C.’s ability to thrash. They’re fast and often grungy, but still maintain the sense of weight offered up in the opening track. Fear Cave in particular ends in notable fashion with a fuzzed out repeating riff that is so heavy I actually thought I had blown my speakers the first listen through. Balancing these heavier passages with interesting acoustic interludes on Melody, This Is For You and Wendigo Part 3 (Let Him Burn) is smart, allowing the listener some relief while also lending the album an undercurrent of melancholic emotion.
Dark Ages is a snapshot of Bison B.C. at their most mature, and boy do they age well. While it might not have all hooks of their previous efforts, this album tends to offer a sense of atmosphere that many of their sludge/stoner contemporaries can not. They bring you up but don’t hesitate in letting you fall and you love them all the more for it. Welcome to the Apocalypse, I hope you brought some beer.
written by Renee Trotier