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Move along folks, nothing to see here - 75%

iamntbatman, November 21st, 2009

This recording of a live radio show performance serves as something of a "greatest hits" for Bone Awl as it includes songs from most of their releases up to this point in the band's history. None of the songs on Radio Show are exclusive to this release and, due to the generally poor sound quality on the recording, there's not much going on here to make this particular part of the extensive Bone Awl discography stand out.

If you've heard the source material these songs are from then the music won't come as a surprise to you. Bone Awl stick to the basics, pounding away at simple punk power chords on every tune here. The problem is that, as this was recorded live, there's no bass guitar at all. Previous Bone Awl releases had a distinct mid-range, overdriven bass presence that was on par with or perhaps even louder than the guitar, the net result being that the riffs mainly sounded like they were being played as power chords on a distorted bass guitar. The contrast with that mid-range tone and the higher, screamed vocals is vital to the band's aesthetic and without that distinct tone, the songs here are too trebly and weak sounding to be as enjoyable as they generally are on the various releases where these songs were first encountered. The guitar itself does have some nice dirty tone to it, brimming with feedback, but the bass is really missed.

The drums have that ever-so-catchy punk simplicity about them just as they always do but they're definitely on the loud side in the mix. I much prefer the drums being a little too loud than being buried in the mix and generally inaudible, but they're overbearing to the point of being distracting on this release, especially since He Who Crushes Teeth is a little more blast-happy here than he is normally.
Radio Show's biggest crime is the burying of the vocals. He Who Gnashes Teeth usually sounds absolutely demonic, but the toned-down vocals on this live performance are more along the lines of a typical, unimpressive black metal rasp than his usual unhinged bloodthirsty screams. The generally lackluster performance, combined with the vocal track being lower in the mix than is typical of the band, makes for a fairly pedestrian experience that's missing most of the fire that makes Bone Awl so compelling.

Out of context, Radio Show is a fast, aggressive chunk of black-punk-metal fury that should appeal to just about any black metal fan with a healthy appreciation for raw, DIY black metal with a strong sense of songwriting. In the context of Bone Awl's discography, this is simply a collection of weaker recordings of tracks that can be found in better versions elsewhere, making it hard to really recommend to much of anyone. The release's one standout is an extended version of "Pentagram Clitoris" but, like the rest of the songs on Radio Show, it's hampered by the lack of bass and buried vocals. This isn't terrible by any means, but I can't really recommend this over any of the other releases these songs can be found on.