Adversity can do a lot of things to a band. Hard times have created tensions, hiatus, and even breakups. BISON (formerly BISON BC) have gone through some tough times since their last release. After the departure of a long-time band member and being dropped from their record label, the band decided to take the all of that negative energy and pour it into their next record. Released on Pelagic Records, You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient is the band’s fifth full-length album. Let’s dig into some tracks.
The album opener is “Until the Earth is Empty”, which kicks off with a riff that feels right at home with the sound that we have come to expect from the band. While doom metal is the framework for this song, more and more elements come to bear as the song progresses. The band mixes things up with plenty of simple but catchy riffs throughout the track, with Dan And’s vehement vocal delivery spicing things up along the way. This is a fantastic opener that sets the tone for what’s to come.
The song that follows, “Anti-War”, show that the band is perfectly fine with eschewing the traditional doom, stoner, and sludge trappings with which they have been associated for the majority of their career. Barely over three minutes, this song manages to be one of the most memorable on the album. The vocals are banshee-like, the riffs are just the right amount of repetitive, and gang vocals accompany the anthemic chorus before a full blown blues-rock solo concludes the song.
The average song length on this album is considerably shorter than BISON’s previous work. A full listen through You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient will set you back only 38 minutes. While this may seem short on paper, it works remarkably well for this record. There is simply no fat to be trimmed on this album; what is here is essential for the album to work and every song contributes to the experience as a whole. At the end of every listen, I found myself wanting more, but not unfulfilled as another spin of the record would satisfy.
With that in mind, let’s unpack the longest track on this album; the aptly named “Tantrum” clocks in at 7:31. A soft opening shifts quickly into a riff that is sure to get your head moving. This song is the pinnacle of the band’s sound. Progressive elements sneak in with timing changes, and the addition of violin and flute show that the band is not only willing to experiment, but also excel at it.
This year is already stacked with stellar releases in the metal scene, but none have made an impact on me in such a way as You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient. Impassioned vocals, chugging riffs, amazing lead work, and an album composition that hits the nail squarely on the head make this record quite the triumphant return for the band. It’s easily my favorite comeback release of 2017.
Notable Tracks: “Tantrum”; “Water Becomes Fire”; “Anti-War”
FFO: Baroness (early), Doomriders, High On Fire