These last couple of years I have been given a metal geography lesson in the sense that quality metal can come from the most unlikely of places. One not need be in the Bay Area, Florida, or any other power center to write and play quality metal in the US. Next lesson brought to you courtesy of the Birmingham based lads going by the moniker Bovine. Chortling at bad band names out of medical dictionaries and other such crazy places have led me to dismiss bands out of hand based on a name. Bovine slapped me back to reality in that it is the music not the name or gimmick that matters, cheers to these lads for that reminder. Out soon, the debut from Bovine titled “The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire”. Just when one thinks maybe the British have lost a musical step or two, new and old come out and deliver a metal beat down to remind us, we are still here, always have been and always will be.
Recovered from my total ass kicking Bovine delivered, more careful and thoughtful listens followed, and many many of them at that. Opening with a palate cleansing instrumental, entitled ‘Barium’, anticipation is high in that this album could drop anywhere on the genre target. Proggish, doomish, or deathish, no hints are given until those first few chords and beats of ‘Ghost Chair’ come at you. At this point there is no real genre or bucket thoughts only the thought of holy hell where did this come from. No buzz, no whisper, at least here in the states, but full realization that this is a diamond in the rough and this is less than 3 minutes into the LP. There are big riffs, weaving between driving and almost Yes like ethereal nature. Bass lines and drum beats that rival most anything happening today. It gives the ear an air of simplicity yet deeper underneath it all you hear the intricacies of both bass and drums as the carve out their respective beat in lock step. Just listen to the drum work on the track ‘Thank Fuck I Ain’t You’ and I challenge anyone to argue that Damon Cox is nothing short of brilliant at the skins. His drums are showcased by complementary riffs and oh those vocals. Powerful, emotion packed, softer, louder, screamier, all when needed for a given part of any given track, in short spot on!
With each fresh listen one can concentrate on individual instruments or groups of instruments and uncover a new sound just as an inspector exams each rivet in a steel structure. They are all important and add to the overall strength and character but each are unique and has something unique they impart to the total. One listen just can’t do this justice. ‘Heroes are What’ and ‘Military Wife’ have complete different musical base pairs, if you will, yet combined and rotated they make up the Bovine DNA. Heroes offers a slower intro and picks up to a blinding riff fueled storm whereas ‘Wife’ drops in on a heavier almost sludgy note and both are unmistakably Bovine. This quality of separation but maintaining your mark through the LP is one of many factors that set off these lads from their peers.
Each track needs to be experienced in both headphone and loud assed car blasting. One listen just wont suffice here, there is a diamond here that needs to be studied and polished; examined from all angles to find that perfect combination of color and clarity. Once you find your personal facet for these boys, they will be there to be admired at your leisure and from my personal experience that will be a daily admiration. Run, don’t walk, when this release hits and experience Bovine!