Bison B.C.'s third album for Metal Blade is a roiling mass of sludgy heaviness, slow-churning atonal riffs and scraped-throated vocals sung from the pit of despair. Apparently, since the release of 2010's Dark Ages, vocalist/guitarist James Farwell lost a number of friends, saw his dog succumb to cancer and broke up with his girlfriend. He also turned the dreaded 40.
It all informs this feel-bad album of the year, which sounds fantastic thanks to Sanford Parker's no-frills yet full production. There are just six songs, but they're all epics, sprawling out over 10 minutes in the case of Blood Music. Nine-minute Anxiety Puke/Lovelessness is pure anguish, fast out of the gates with punk speed and brutal hardcore vocals before slowing to unfurl titanic riffage.
Whereas Dark Ages had a harder metallic sheen and more death metal growls, Lovelessness is thick with atmosphere and fraught emotion. The East Vancouver four-piece is as skilled at conveying sentiment through lengthy instrumental passages as through Farwell's vocals and lyrics. For example, the four minutes before the vocals kick in during Last And First Things are some of the album's most crushing.
Top track: Finally Asleep