Friday, April 22, 2011

Bison B.C.--Quiet Earth

As a subgenre, beard metal is probably my favorite of them all.  I love beard metal; it combines all sorts of strange and disparate elements to create something that is heavy and crusty to the utmost.  My favorite part about it is the beards, though.  You see, I am a model of near genetic perfection; the genes passed on to me from my parents are truly and utterly perfect in every way, save for one glaring flaw.  I can't grow a beard.  I have a full, lush head of hair that even the straightest man is attracted to, and I'm surprisingly nimble on my feet for a man who is as tall and burly as I am.  I have great big feet and indicate that I wear great big shoes, and my hands were built to play my guitar.  I'm a model of human perfection, a pasty white, slightly overweight Adonis with plenty of stretch marks and twice as much charisma.

But never a beard!  Oh, the agony of beardlessness!

I always like to imagine what I would do if I had a beard like many of my friends.  Oh what marvelously beardy adventures I would have, just me and my big, stinky beard.  We'd go to a Round Rock Express game
at the Dell Diamond and I'd dip my beard in a cup of beer to keep my face cool in the hot summer sun.  I'd use my beard to test produce at the grocery store, utilizing its fluffy, greasy tendrils to feel for ripeness and overripeness; an avocado would never slip through the cracks of my untrained fingers again, and I would never experience the dismay of having brought home an avocado that is already all brown and shit inside.  I AIN'T PUTTING THAT SHIT IN MY GUACAMOLE!

Birds and spiders would nest in my beard, becoming my army of nature that I would command and rule with an iron fist.  As future generations were born and raised in my beard, their allegiance to me would grow ever stronger; the newer generation would regard me as their mother, and then subsequently, some kind of lumbering Titanic god like from Greek mythology.  I would try to dissuade them from this view, but they wouldn't buy it.  After all, how did I get such a magnificent beard if I wasn't descended from the gods?  They would perhaps make a compelling argument, but my amazing humility would ignore it.

To dream.

For now I have to settle for what scant little facial hair I can grow (which is a pathetically small amount, which I tend to like some jerk who's growing a single daisy in a tiny pot in his office cubicle).  I offset this settling for little by listening to lots and lots of beard metal.  I love it.  And one of my favorites in the beard metal scene are Canadian wunderbeards Bison B.C.

Now it's true that only two members of Bison B.C. have beards.  I know this.  Don't let this relative lack of beards dissuade you from checking out the newest juggernauts of beard metal, though.  Bison B.C. is probably the band that I saw live the most times in a single year ever, and they also share the dubious honor of being the band that I saw the most times live without ever having listened to any of their recorded material.  I've listened to it lots now, but for the first couple of years (during which I saw them no less than 5 times live), I acknowledged that they were a great band that I enjoyed.  There were even shows that I went to to see Bison B.C. specifically, along with a series of slightly lesser bands that invariably comprised a very good bill.  But through all of this, I never listened to any of their recorded material until late last year.  And I'm glad that I bit the bullet and started buying music again so that I could give Bison some money of mine (I need to buy a shirt or two next time they're in town).

Quiet Earth was their first full lenth (probably.  I don't do research and can't now anyway, since I'm scrambling to finish this before I have to leave for work), and it totally rocks.  It's a sludgy amalgam of lumbering, doomy heaviness, midtempo swagger and thrashy, D-beat laden shredfests.  I particularly love the way Bison B.C. approach using guitar harmonies.  It's somehow more distinctive than the standard approach to harmony.  The riffs thunder and crush with harmonized melodic lines swelling up from underneath periodically, like some kind of oxygen-breathing sea beast rising from the depths to quickly eat an entire pelican, catch a breath, and then swim away.  Melody is woven into the fabric of the music, seemingly ubiquitous but only apparent at appropriate intervals.

Probably my favorite (and most shame-filled) part of the album is the song "Slow Hand of Death," which contains a riff that I wrote.  I'm not going to lie to you, though, and pretend like Bison B.C. ripped me off.  They didn't.  I wrote almost the exact same riff, in the same key, with the same palm muting and articulation (it's at 2:24 and again at the end, for those of you who want to hear it).  The problem is that I wrote the riff in a fit of inspiration that occurred roughly two years after this album was released, before I had heard the album proper but after I had seen them live several times.  Osmosis allows me to subconsciously steal riffs from bands that I thoroughly enjoy without the guilt of knowing that I lifted it note-for-note from part of their back catalog, from a song that I've likely heard live at least once and probably more times than that.

Which is another reason why I'm genetically superior.  Boom.

So if you're like me and you can't grow a beard but wish you could, start with Bison B.C.  Their brand of sludged up metal will trick your brain into sending signals to your face to make you feel like the bearded dynamo that you are inside (for future reference, being drunk also achieves this feeling, but adds a hyperinflated sense of self worth.  Incidentally, I recommend tying one on and then listening to Bison B.C. to achieve maximum beardness).

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