In recent years I’ve lost much of my interest with old school Death Metal, much of what I was hearing just wasn’t working for me anymore, it felt tired and as a result so did I ..…..but now I’ve discovered the “Charred Field of Slaughter”, the second studio offering from Chicago’s Death Metal-mongers Bear Mace and it reminded me of everything that for me was so great about the genre, ok, the genre by definition sill may not bring anything new or novel to the table but what this album and this band bring is an exciting, well-crafted energy and so when an album sounds this slick and sick it’s very existence is more than enough.
Lyrically they find inspiration in war, death…. and …. well …. bears! and why not! Especially when it sounds this good. There are definite Death, Massacre and in particular Bolt Thrower influences going on but the crucial factor is how they apply these influences, and it’s done in a manner that allows them to totally own them. There is a confident, polished and a utterly crushing quality to the delivery but the best aspect for me are the vocals from Chris Scearce, he delivers some of the best Death Metal vocals I’ve heard in ages; there is a ground shaking depth to his growl, but the degree of clarity to his delivery of content is flawless. Every word is fully discernible, then there is his ability to protract, without sounding forced and with a silky smoothness to his growl too, resulting in a completely natural delivery that is a joy to the ear. Utterly magnificent, but then the rest of the musicianship here is equally as impressive and the overall sound couldn’t get any tighter or more massive which is apparently and not surprisingly partly down to the mixing and mastering by Damian Herring of Horrendous (another band I have utter respect for) and lets not overlook the drum work. Seemingly unassuming, because it is so perfectly in harmony with everything else that is going on you don’t notice it unless you actively seek it out but it adds a depth, richness and an intensity that cannot be overlooked or undervalued.
From the opener “Destroyed By Bears” resplendent with squealing second half lead work, all the way to the brutal closer, the unrelenting “Brain Rot”, assaulting your senses repeatedly in waves so much so you’ll need to listen all over again because you won’t be able to believe how good this album is first time around. It’s utterly consistent on quality all the way through, the direction switching is stunningly , if you like old school Death you’ll love this and you’ll not be able to pick a favourite track, just listen in awe at those high points, and there is an almost unending abundance of them for your delectation.
“Rogue Weapon” has a decidedly and unashamedly Bolt Thrower rumble to its construct with an added groove, “Xenomorphic Conquest” has fiery direction switching, razor-sharp riffing and uplifting lead work that turns thrashy, “Let Crack the Whip” packs a punch and boasts stunning mid-point lead work, title track “Charred Field of Slaughter” is ominous and haunting to open with a tempo that flits between one that is punchy and a slower and a more menacing one with a dark chugging groove and an even more threatening edge to those sublime vocals, offset by a swathe of mid-point lead work that will rip your heart from your chest. “Plague Storm” has another ominous opener that builds with sinister intent into a galloping pace and develops into a punchy track that errs on the brink of thrashy but with lead work that is dark to start, turning majestic as it develops and a catchy repeat that pulls the whole thing together beautifully, and “From the Sky Rains Hell” which returns to a Bolt Thrower-esque ominous feel that is totally owned by Bear Mace completed by mid-point soaring lead work.
Regarding this album guitarist Mark Sugar commented “We are proud to deliver the next chapter in the Bear Mace saga. We had a lot to prove this time around, and the result is an album that does not let up whatsoever.” …..All I’ll say to that is that I haven’t yet had the good fortune of hearing the previous album “Butchering The Colossus” but if it has any bearing on this current offering then I’ll be doing myself a great disservice not checking it out, so now I’m done here that’s where I’m off!!
Rating – 5,000,000/5 😊 ….. ok 5/5