Spanish quartet, Bonecarver, spearheaded Madrid’s brutal death metal (BDM) scene under their former name of Cannibal Grandpa before Unique Leader Records came calling with the offer of a record deal this year. It’s hard to think of another label that would be so fitting for the band’s sonic approach, given that the late Erik Lindmark (RIP) of Deeds of Flesh set up Unique Leader to house a specific death metal sound. Bonecarver tick all the boxes of a modern BDM band, which is both a strength and a weakness depending on which side of the carnage you sit on.
BDM is an acquired taste and is perhaps the most formulaic sub-genre of extreme metal, excluding lo-fi black metal. If you don’t know what this means, you soon will after one listen to ‘Overture’ or ‘Hound Pound’. Think mechanised drums that sound like road drills, chugging guitars, pig squeal mouth noises and heavy breakdowns borrowed from Suffocation. My God, it’s heavy! It’s no exaggeration to say the end riff to ‘The Blacksmith’s Massacre’ is brutal enough to give you goose bumps as the bass-heavy palm-muted notes seep down the back of your neck like hot liquid.
Album opener, ‘Revolver’ can give the latest Brand of Sacrifice record a run for its money in the pulverising stakes. Indeed, the drop-F guitar tuning throughout Evil is the highlight. No doubt many guitarists would kill for this loose and crunchy tone and glue their hands to the bridge of their instrument if it were possible. Fans of modern-day Kataklysm and Ingested will recognise a kinship here, yet Bonecarver’s regular foray into blast beats will also raise an eyebrow from the old school death metal brigade. Indeed, ‘Moon Maniac’ evokes the rhythmic brilliance of Morbid Angel before ending with a dirge of grinding breakdown riffs. It’s a moment of high anxiety and violent euphoria to get your blood racing.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the overall pulse of the album. Ten tracks of the same tempo, in the same key, using the same harsh vocals grow sterile after three songs, despite the excellent alt-picking frenzy on ‘Overture’. Even the unsettling pig squeals lose their potency at the half-way mark of the record, by which time the technical drums and chugging guitars are just another facet of the aural assault. You hear it once and it’s awesome; twice and it’s good; three times and it’s admirable; four times or more and it starts to sink into a mire of predictability.
We’ve heard the sweep-picking patterns on last year’s Cytotoxin album and the dual vocal approach between low gutturals and high-pitched yelping is too ingrained into the BDM genre to remain a focal point of the music. Bonecarver employ every technique you can lampoon in the BDM/slam genre and offer little of original value. This is a damn shame because the musicianship levels are high, and the band achieve a monstrous standard of extremity in their music. The problem is repetition and the fact we’ve heard this in a million other Suffocation/Cryptopsy clones around the world.
Every song on Evil is an honourable six out of ten, but this drags down the listening experience when judged as an album. Perhaps the biggest tragedy is the innocuous end product. Extreme metal should never be unremarkable, but the Spaniards struggle to bedazzle on this offering. Maybe the next record will put things right.
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Record Label: Unique Leader Records
Standout tracks: Revolver, The Scythe, Hound Pound
Suggested Further Listening: Cryptopsy – Whisper Supremacy (1998), Brand of Sacrifice – Lifeblood (2021), Ingested – Where Only Gods May Tread (2020)