Three years have passed since we last heard from Vancouver’s BISON with their 2014 EP “1000 Needles.” In that time, these stoner/sludge metal veterans have made a few notable changes, including recruiting ex-3 Inches of Blood lead guitarist Shane Clark to handle bass duties, as well as deciding to record new material in their hometown instead of abroad. This introspective decision has resulted in a natural progression of their sound that doesn’t undermine what they do best. Now, with the band all set to release their fifth album, “YOU ARE NOT THE OCEAN YOU ARE THE PATIENT” via Pelagic Records, we are pleased to present the album’s walloping opening track, Until The Earth Is Empty.
Until The Earth Is Empty kicks off with a melodic stoner-doom hook that pulls you in like a swiftly ebbing tide. The melody repeats, following up with a meatier version that’s complemented by a midtempo backbeat. Thick, muscular riffs carry you forward through a headbanging verse, as dry shouts shift to hoarse, bestial roars for the chorus — a surging storm of crash cymbals and guitar-hammering quarter notes like boats crashing into jagged rocks. You’ll hear variations on subsequent repeated parts, adding flavor and replayability, ensuring you’ll find something new with each listen of Until The Earth Is Empty, like when the guitars pull back at the start of the second verse in order to let the bass shine. BISON knows how to write a song with stunning momentum, proven by an aggressive palm-muted bridge that leaps into a thundering downbeat solo section that crackles with retro fuzz. The chorus crests up again — all riffs, no vocals, seeming even more primal in its power — before crashing into you with an energetic downbeat version of the mammoth intro melody. Whew!
Until The Earth Is Empty shows that BISON’s return home was not misguided, as it’s shaping up to be among their strongest releases yet. You’ll still get vibes of U.S. stoner/sludge titans High on Fire or even early Mastodon, but these young bucks (calves?) aren’t content to simply imitate — BISON’s honest, authentic songwriting approach has enough inherent heaviness to crush cars into cubes without being reliant on the genre’s tropes. As the release of their fifth album comes ever closer, BISON will be charging full-speed ahead toward what’s sure to be a landmark release for the genre this year.
“YOU ARE NOT THE OCEAN YOU ARE THE PATIENT” releases June 23rd in Europe and July 7th in North America via Pelagic Records.