Written by Kep
Bonecarver – Evil
Brutal Death Metal from Spain
Releases March 5th, 2021
via Unique Leader Records
Here’s a question for you, and I think I might have a decent idea of the answer: do you like your metal as heavy as literally all fucking hell? Sure, sometimes you need bands like Eneferens or svrm or Spirit Adrift, whose takes on metal could be reasonably described as beautiful, or even moving. But do you also crave some thick, chuggy brutality? Do you want vocals that roar and squeal, and breakdowns that could level entire city blocks? If you do, it’s time to get excited for the newest slamtastic release from Unique Leader, Bonecarver’s Evil.
First, the particulars. Bonecarver is a five-piece outfit from Spain, and though they existed in another form previously (more on that in a sec), this is the debut record for them under the Bonecarver name. Evil is an effective 10 tracks and 39 minutes of tight, bruising riffs and slamerrific destruction (important note: I’ve decided to use the word “slam” in as many ridiculous ways as possible in this review). The runtime is pretty much perfect, as the songwriting is varied enough to keep me interested through the entirety.
Bonecarver are the reinvigorated, reincarnated version of the awesomely named Cannibal Grandpa, whose name was inspired by the decidedly not awesome serial killer Albert Fish (believe me, that’s a Wikipedia read that I don’t need to do again). Suffice it to say that these guys are still as interested in serial killers and murder as ever; you can even see Fish himself in the artwork for Evil, there in the stylized electric chair. There is an obvious violent slant in the lyrics, as is typical for this sort of slamming brutal death, and it generally works without being clichéd. The lead single and album opener “Revolver” is pretty notable for handling the idea of murder in a lyrically sophisticated way: “This is the day when the sheep tears the wolf apart / The squid strangles the shark and the blossoms poison the swarms”.
Musically, I’ve got two questions that constitute my rules when it comes to metal that slams: 1) Is there variety? and 2) Is it fun? There’s more to it, obviously, but those two things are the way to quickly separate the good efforts from the bad ones. When it comes to Evil, I’m pleased to report that in my esteemed opinion* the answers are yes and HELL yes.
Opener “Revolver” is everything you could hope for to kick off an album, with a short atmospheric intro that uses a repeated vocal line to build to the song’s catchy, tremolo-picked main riff. There’s an absolutely crushing slam before the song is even a minute and a half old, and two devastating breakdowns to close the track out, punctuated by the sampled audio of a 911 call. “MALLEVS MALEFICARVM” rides a creepy minor interval motif that crawls along above a ton of blast beats to conjure images of unnerving wickedness. “Wormhole” leans into the hip-hop rhythmic influences of slam to create a juicy little nu-metal-influenced opening (which I mean in the best possible way) before delivering one of the heaviest overall tracks on the album. “The Blacksmith’s Massacre” is my sleeper choice for best song on Evil, with an ear-grabbing opening section that starts with a massive stomping riff and then moves to some rhythmic trickery, punctuated by little electronic squeals. It’s also got one of the absolute coolest breakdowns on the record, featuring an effect from the cymbals that imitates the sound of a blacksmith’s hammer and anvil.
Speaking of riffs, I think one of the things that often holds slamerous bands back is a dependence on the chugs. Some bands out there have two settings: fast, blast beat-driven intensity and CHUG, with the first used as nothing more than bridges to the second. Evil isn’t one of those albums, though. There’s a legitimate variety of moods and riff styles, and you never get the feeling that the band is just finding excuses to move from chug passage to chug passage. In fact, there are multiple songs on the record, like “Overtorture”, that don’t have any slams or breakdowns at all, and are just solid brutal death tracks. These guys are writing quality, wide-ranging riffs top to bottom, and that makes the slams and breakdowns that much more fun. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a lull from tracks 6-8, where there aren’t as many distinctive moments to punctuate the songs and grab your ear, but the catchiness and quality on the surrounding tracks keeps it from being a dealbreaker.
The mixing helps things along, too; Bonecarver sounds a bit less processed than many of the other bands in the same space, while still being extremely clean, the way we expect. The sound work is quality across the whole album, with girthy bass tone, truly audible and clear riffs in the dual guitars and wall-of-sound chugs, and characteristic tight double bass in the drums. The work on the drums here, by the way, is really, really great, and easily my favorite individual performance on the album.
I had a blast listening to Evil, and it’s going to be a record that I play a lot this year when I’m looking for something that both fun as hell and heavy as shit. This is the most slamnificent album of 2021 so far, and it’s definitely worth your time!
*my opinion is absolutely not esteemed
Favorite track: The Blacksmith’s Massacre