Bison – You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (Pelagic)Friday, 15th September 2017
As one of the better bands to emerge from the doom/sludge logjam, Vancouver’s Bison (no more “B.C.”) had the good fortune of Metal Blade backing for their first three full-lengths: 2008’s Quiet Earth, 2010’s Dark Ages and 2012’s Lovelessness. Unfortunately, the MB brass didn’t see fit to keep the Canucks around, casting the band off after Lovelessness, subsequently throwing a wrench into a career that was just starting to take shape. The band, understandably so, took their time in re-assembling, eventually emerging with their first studio album in five years by way of You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient.
The imposing guitar tone of Dan And and James Gnarwell still defines the band’s sound. Playing those vast, stack-the-cabs riffs, the two men often favor brute force over melodic strains, although the mid-section of “Tantrum” would suggest otherwise. “Drunkard,” along with “Kenopsia,” both employ steady, heads-down, driving motifs, in particular “Drunkard,” a song that finds Bison simply content with riding the opening riff until the cows come home. (And they should – it’s a rocker. Furthermore, new bassist Shane Clark of 3 Inches of Blood fame gets in on the action.)
The album’s lone diversion is closer “Water Becomes Fire,” which employs an Isis (the band)-like touch and dynamic scope, as in, an array of soft guitar peddles and melodies. Bison, on the surface, may still be inclined to bash folks over the head with a backwoods shovel than prompt moments of introspection, but the overall feel of “Water Becomes Fire” suggests otherwise.
It’s always interesting to see how a band reacts after leaving a sizable independent label. Now largely left to their own devices, Bison appear more comfortable than ever, enabling You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient to emerge as the hefty, forceful body of work it rightfully should be.