Pure, Uncut Metal

I should start this off with a declaration of my prejudice: I don’t get heavy metal music.

For me, bluegrass is faster, punk angrier, indie folk and rock edgier, Joy Division heavier, Nick Cave darker, and for pure noise, you can’t beat Sonic Youth and Throbbing Gristle.

As for heavy metal, I can barely tell the difference between hair and speed metal.

But this is a review of the self-titled debut CD by Bushwhacker, the Whitehorse band that recently relocated to Vancouver to make it big.

It’s pure, uncut metal, but I’m keeping an open mind. After all, if Lou Reed can record an album with Metallica, there has to be something to it.

I called in a friend on this one. He tells me that the album is a mix of thrash (like Metallica and Megadeath) and death metal (like Slayer and Napalm Death), mostly thrash in the first three songs and death metal in the last three.

These songs are constructed upon a steady rhythm of heavy bass lines and drums, provided by Keenan Dennehy and Sean Komaromi, respectively, perfect for some serious head banging.

On top of that is a munge of two fast, machine-like guitars, played by Cavan Egan and Geoff Woods. Egan and Woods trade solos back and forth, sometimes low and distorted, sometimes soaring and high-pitched like classic metal, but always fast and complex.

The vocals, provided by Egan and Woods, also go back and forth in different styles, the low melody of thrash mixing with the guttural, throat-scraped scream of death metal.

The lyrics range from dark and mystical on “Forest Lord” to sci-fi on the Ridley Scott-inspired “Terminator” to the apocalypse of “Echoes of the End”.

But what stands out for me isn’t the standard metal tropes of volume and velocity. It’s the instrumental breaks found in the intros and bridges.

“The Trip” starts and ends as a heavy psychedelic rock song. “Voices in the Walls” has echoes of Friend Called Five’s post-hardcore song, “I Want to be Your Ghost”.

As metal, it’s great. It’s an album of high-energy music by very talented musicians that metal fans can appreciate at extreme volumes.

But for my tastes, I could have used some noise and feedback.

Outstanding Track: “The Trip”

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