Album Review: Bone Church - 'Bone Church'

2 September 2018 | 5:57 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Pay. Attention.

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Sometimes when I want to unwind after a day at the office or just plain because I feel like it, I’ll treat myself to a cup of tea. Not just a regular black tea but a nice Earl Grey with one sugar. If you somehow don’t know what differentiates Earl Grey from a traditional black tea, it’s that it’s infused with bergamot oil, giving it beautiful notes of orange. Now, much like cups of tea, this new Bone Church album is not for everyone. Again, much like a good cup of tea, one must wait for it to steep before the flavors are given their desired prominence.

So, following on from their 2015 release 'Sanctuary' (originally released under their former name Starting Fires) comes a rebirth of sorts for Melbourne-based darkened hardcore bruisers, Bone Church. This is an album that I’ve been waiting to hear for a long fucking time now and to say the wait was worth it would be putting it lightly. The end result of this is an album teeming with diverse flavors. Flavors that - on paper shouldn’t work - but are blended effortlessly. Delicious.

[caption id="attachment_1103991" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Bone Church, 2018. [/caption]

Opening track 'Ossuary' starts this release off with a slow burn - despite being just over 90 seconds long - with vocalist Rhys Baillie’s brooding baritone vocals sliding over a sparse, atmospheric and effects-laden track reminiscent of Cult Leader stylings. The album then flows into 'Burning Wick', which seems almost like a fake-out. It starts slowly, building up upon itself before exploding into the meat of the song, only to collapse again. It almost seems indecisive, does this band want to be melodic? Heavy? Atmospheric, even? The answer to all of the above is “yes” - and they do it damned well! What finishes the piece out essentially builds into what most the rest of this album is; a sheer aural assault, and I do mean that in the best possible way.

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Second to last track, 'Edema' starts with an off-kilter guitar loop, courtesy of Dale Colson, which as you may have guessed, builds upon itself: adding in a sample, and then unexpectedly erupts into an incredibly heavy, doom-styled section that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Cough album. Then it all fades out with where it all began, that same off-kilter guitar loop from the intro. Album closer 'Bone Sermon' is, well, something of a musical marathon. While not feeling out of place as such, it is a definite weak point for me here. Clocking in at 10+ minutes, it's a sonic journey in and of itself. Look, I’m old and I don’t have the attention span I used to. And after the previous half-hour of music preceding it, I got somewhat exhausted. You might not though. As I said, this record is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Each track on Bone Church's latest work is so dense and packed full of different yet still cohesive sounds. To the point that it was hard not to review this album in a track by track approach. Of course, I personally never want to do that because I consider such a format incredibly fucking lazy and I’m not going to spoon feed you. But damn, it was extremely hard not to here. As most, if not all of these songs tend to pivot on a dime and sonically take you in directions that you didn’t know they could, would, or should go in. So, instead, I’m just going to bookend my review right here and say: listen to this fuckin' thing!

That whole tea analogy was not for nothing. As this new Bone Church album just won't be for everyone. This impressive LP is honestly hard to digest, but I mean that as a compliment. It is a slog to listen to and wrap your head around everything in just one play through. Though some reading may consider listening to an album even more than once not something they’d normally do. However, the absolute weakest point for this album is that it’s almost too smart for its own good. The music on this album is not accessible and not everyone can be Converge, which usually results in bands and albums like this being severely and sadly overlooked. Yet this is a record that I implore you to listen to at least twice. This is my cup of tea... and I'll soon need another sip.

1. Ossuary

2. Burning Wick

3. In The Next Room

4. Cowards Throne

5. Runaways

6. Early Ripe, Early Rotten

7. Vices (Voices)

8. The Only Way Down From The Gallows Is To Swing

9. Silver Tongue

10. Bird In A Jar

11. Edema

12. Bone Sermon