Thanks to Dwight K. Schrute, I know that bears do not like beets and that bears are not as good as Battlestar Gallatica. I also know that Dwight loves his hair metal, so I wonder what he’d think of some bear themed death metal? Unfortunately, we may never find out. But if it’s of any small solace I will let you know what I think as I review the brand new record from Chicago maulers Bear Mace titled Charred Field Of Slaughter. This is the groups second full length and is released independently on August 14th.
Bear Mace do have a penchant of blasting out tunes about bears. However, luckily Bear Mace don’t just use bears as their theme (seven bear mentions already). They also rage about war and death to change things up, which is a relief because I’m not massive on bands having jokey gimmicks (I know, I know, I’m a boring old bastard). Anywho… Charred Field Of Slaughter is eight tracks of Chicago death metal that borders on the NWOAHM sound, similar to early Lamb of God, Chimaira and Unearth, utilizing the heaviness of Death Metal, combining it with American hardcore and playing it in a technical manner.
Let’s start with the good! From the start of the record Bear Mace kick out some massive riffs and wailing solo’s. The opening to Destroyed By Bears has this killer riff that has got the stink of thrash giants Exodus all over it. It’s mid paced, meaty and chock full of rhythm. It is an exciting start to the record which is accompanied by driving bass lines and is pure head-banging music.
The production on the record is great. The guys over at Subterranean Watchtowers Studios did a great job. It’s thick and crunchy but retains the clean sound that you associate with that NWOAHM (New Wave Of American Heavy Metal) sound, although these guys are a death metal group and this is substantially cleaner than you’d usually expect. But fear not! It’s still got that buzz saw edge to tear at your flesh. Also props to Matt Altieri for killing it on the artwork. It reminds me of a desert version of Sadus’s Swallowed In Black or Sodom’s Code Red really cool.
Some of the song writing on here is also pretty cool. As mentioned, the opening track is a highlight but other tracks such as Let Crack The Whip have some fun riffs and shout along moments and Plague Storm is a ripper, a fast paced no fucks given destroyer.
Plague Storm is a ripper, a fast paced no fucks given destroyer…
Charred Field Of Slaughter unfortunately also has its flaws. First off the bat… the vocals. They’re almost a cross between the putrid gurgled madness of gore-grind and the low slowly presented vocals from the death doom genre. Unfortunately, for me, they either need to be one or the other because, in my opinion, the performance comes across a little pantomime, a little cheesy and doesn’t go along with the monstrous riffs that it drapes itself across. For me, the vocals are a little off-putting and there’s little to no variation in them across the record. The only way I could describe them is they are like Mikael Akerfeldt with a throat full of taramasalata.
The other issue isn’t as big, but the drums could do with a little variation. They get a little predictable across the record and I feel, that with a little more variation, it could breathe some more life into the record. They’re by no means bad though.
To sum up, this not a bad record, however, it’s not something I think that I will revisit. The negatives out-way the positives and at times the record feels a little generic. There are definite plus points, however. Mark Sugar and Tommy Bellino do a pretty solid job in the riffs department and they’re what kept me interested across the full thirty five minute album. If you dig, the cleaner side of death metal or the rhythm focused sounds of NWOAHM then you might dig this, so go give it a listen and make your own decision.
Scribed by: Matt Alexander