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Album Review: TBA

Monday, March 25, 2013

Album Review: Bovine – The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire

With an album title like this one, Midlands monsters Bovine appear to be patriots to the [T-]bone – yes there’s going to be bad cow jokes in this one, folks (count ‘em). “Where’s the beef?” you may ask. Well, their PR isn’t a million miles off when it brands them as sound-a-likes to a volley of bands from across the pond – Kyuss, Soundgarden, QOTSA and Baroness. Sure, those rock elements are there but don’t be fooled into thinking this lot are happy go-lucky cows. No, this lot bleed metal; they are shit-spreading, muck-throwing nasty-arsed beasts.

Taking the bull by the horns here, Bovine sure as hell sport some beefy guitars. Quite how they manage to corale that QOTSA-desert rock vibe of “Thank Fuck I Ain’t You” into Torche’s knee-deep sludge is awe-inspiring. Mind you, they’re certainly not adverse to a spot of ethereal post-rock noodling either, as the bowed, echoic intro “Barium” attests. This soon bleeds out into the howling crush of “Ghost Chair” which plunders the scrawling depths of bands like ruminant brothers-in-arms Bison B.C., No Made Sense and Isis. Mimicking Iron Maiden, they do drag forth that very British element – a recording of one of Churchill’s rousing speeches. Another box ticked.

Moo-ving on, “Heroes Are What” divides its time between a crooning acoustic wash and a wall of dissonant noise, treading a line between modern Poison The Well and the thundering hooves of These Arms Are Snakes. Last time I heard a band this scattergun it was No Hawaii and they were undoubtedly wannabe Deftones. There’s more disquietingly stripped acoustic guitar on “Aneugenic”, whilst the title-track feels like a bolt to the skull. Toms and chugs carve out an addictively methodical, two-chord groove over which is herded a sweet warbling riff and an emotion-soaked vocal. Then, quick bursts of top-end create udder mayhem and fuse the piece into a psych-heavy, lump of slowly rotating space-rock. Necks will snap. Holy cow!

The band turn the heat up gradually over the course of the album’s rump. Those final three tracks see them eliminating their grunge affectations and flexing their sludge muscle, roasting their audience with fatty riffs and scarring vocals until all that remains is a thick lump of mouth-wateringly meaty steak. Put it this way, their prime cut “Not Another Name”, has the power to butcher the still-beating heart from your body.

Okay, the recording is a little too raw, but it does lend a certain energy to the piece. The dominant scratchy guitar tone itches more than it cuts and for a band that boasts about its heavy drums, the snare has wobbly legs. Standing out in the mix, it’s that thick thub sound, not unlike the noise of an uncooked leek hitting a pringle lid. Having said that, with songs like “I Will Make You Real” ploughing an almighty furrow through the album and that huge title-track in their meat-locker, Bovine’s qualities are here for all to see – yes, in black and white.

Also online @ Ave Noctum =
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