Pasadena trio BISONwar are in interesting territory on their self-titled debut. The 11 track BISONwar is an ostensibly dark album (not least implied by its artwork of a eerily twilit winter forest) but it is not an overly aggressive album. Like a handful of other math rock greats, the likes of Ativin and Town Portal, the band explore heavier terrains but without diving completely into the metal tier.
From the complex and richly textured chord progression in their eponymous opener (one of the best I’ve heard all year), the band show their artistry and technical proficiency. What unfolds is a mix of jazz, math rock and fusion. In fact, one would be forgiven for hearing classic heavy rock riffs in the vein of Deep Purple or Black Sabbath at times. The complex guitar phrases are met with rusty, abrasive bass and reverberating percussion, altogether bringing a richly textured blend of jams.
In all, BISONwar’s debut is a solid effort, at times dark, at other times stripped back rock. Contextually, this self-titled is very much in the realm of Oceanic‘s recent release Trappist; it’s an offering of dark jazzy instrumentation that never hits the mindless realm of impetuous technical progressive metal bludgeon. I concur.