REVIEW: Bison Machine – Hoarfrost (2015)


Glorious fuzzed up brilliance from Michigan.

This reviewer has always regretted the fact he was born too late. Being a child of the mid 1970’s is all very well and good (and to be fair, the year of my birth spawned Springsteen’s “Born To Run” as well as Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks”) but it means that I missed out on all the good shit first time around. Led Zep, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, all the greats came to me second hand.

It’s a good job then, that there are many others who feel the same way, bands across the world who say: “All this modern metal, well yeah ok, if you want, but give us some good old fuzzed up guitar, thanks.”

To be fair, it’s a boom time for such a sound right now, and we can add Bison Machine to the list of bands who rifled through their dads record collection looking for inspiration.

“Hoarfrost” is packed full of warm, fuzzy familiarly across its seven tracks. Whether it’s the pulsing Deep Purple type thump of the opener “Cosmic Ark” or the more Sabbath like stomp-cum-swirling psychedelics of “Old Moon,” just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean it’s not damn good fun to hear it again.

At its very best “Hoarfrost” is exceptional. “Gamekeepers Thumb” stretches out over its seven and a half minutes and gives the air of a bloke in a Hammock who isn’t going anywhere this afternoon, but the calmness is very nicely broken through by the short, sharp punch of “Viking Hand” which displays admirable urgency.

The best moment here – “Speed Of Darkness” – finds singer Thomas Stec first “looking for justice” and then asking to be “taken home,” takes all the ideas from the depths of delta blues to straightforward rock n roll, wraps them up and sticks a bow on them (ok it’s actually a kick ass guitar solo from John DeVries that adorns things, but you get the point) and “Giant’s Coffin” manages not to be outdone even in the face of this brilliance and lives up to its wonderful title with ease – and doesn’t half sound like Led Zep jamming on a blues track at 3am while it’s about it.

You couldn’t ever call “Hoarfrost” original, but it’s not ever trying to be. You could instead call it brilliant, because that’s what it is.

Rating 9/10

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