Bone Awl - Bog Bodies/Magnetism of War (GoatowaRex LP)
Oh shit. Funny (?) story: once upon a midnight weary I wrote to some email address I found on the GoatowaRex website (at least, I think it was the GoatowaRex website) trying to obtain a copy of this. I don't know what the deal was but nobody ever got back to me and I assumed I missed out, as is bound to happen. So imagine the look on my kisser when reliable old Aquarius Records got a batch in? I tell you I couldn't hit "add to cart" fast enough, given the sheer radicalness of Bone Awl's previous split with Canada's The Rita and their "Up to Something" cassette. This LP is a reissue of two other, older, long-gone cassettes - 2003's "Bog Bodies" (ltd. 300) and 2002's "Magnetism of War" (ltd. 150). So this reissue is perfect for guys like me who are just a tad slow on the uptake...and it's on beautifully thick 180g vinyl to boot! Man, what's not to love? If you don't know California's Bone Awl yet, you don't know what you're missing - super lo-fi black metal/punk/thrash duo, operating under the names He Who Gnashes Teeth and He Who Crushes Teeth. Sold!
Nothing on this reissue sounds too dissimilar to what I heard on their previous tapes, which is A-OK by me. In fact the first song "Tollund Man" is very very similar to the material on the "Up to Something" tape - then again all Bone Awl songs work within a very similar framework. I swear they've used the riff on this song before, but it appears here thicker and bassier and gnarlier than ever before. Add to that the incessant pounding drums and murky, howled vocals and it's a match made in heaven or hell. "Grauballe Man" and "Lindow Man" serve up more of the same, the former being the faster-paced of the two while the latter is a slow, trudge through frozen Californian wastelands indeed. The real curveball is an 11-minute Bone Awl epic, "Virvatulet". It's instrumental, doomy, and slow as hell. And it's basically the exact same plodding riff and thundering drums over and over to hypnotizing effect. Sonically it's more like Khanate playing it straight than anything else. And it, of course, rules.
Once you get past the creepshow oddball acoustic/mic noise duet on the intro, "Magnetism of War" reverts to classic Bone Awl fare although seemingly with more bite. Almost every song on here is an absolute finger-bleeding scorcher, with each successive song seemingly trying to one-up the last. And they all seem to have varying production values, which is a nice touch! The title track (parts one and two), "Heidrun", "In Eternal Dark", "Worship of the Cloven Holocaust" and "Silver Grin of the Death's Head" - all average about two minutes, all are pure firestorm blurs of spikey swirling guitars and agonized screams. The last track is the curiously-titled "Noise of Bears Killing", and is pretty similar to the last track on the A-side in that they're both slow, instrumental, repetitive pieces. This one holds much less doom and is propelled by a pretty rigid beat, basically like Darkthrone covering an early Skullflower or Dead C track. I approve whole-heartedly.
The problem with Bone Awl is that their music is so brilliantly simplistic that I just can't find enough to say about it. I mean, you just have to hear it for yourself. Or, the good lord willing, see them live. There's no other way. This LP makes for the perfect initiation, either for yourself or for a loved one. It comes in a black sleeve with pasted-on art while the LP itself resides in none-more-black mylar housing with a printed cardstock note identifying tracks, original release information, and lyric info (tip: you have to seek out the originals to read the lyrics). Now if we could just get a similar vinyl reissue treatment for "By Ropes Through Dirt", "Not For Our Feet" and "Night is Indifferent" - all out-of-print tapes and 7"s. And if you'll excuse me I see that the group have recently put out another 7" under the title "At the Ellipse's Arc" and I'll be damned if I'm going to let that one pass me by.