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Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge sucker for long lost Scottish weirdo death metal band Korpse, so when I found out that guitarist Sid was in a new band a few years ago I naturally jumped at the opportunity to check them out. Bonesaw is a pretty rad name, and Sawtopsy is a rad album title, so I dove in head-first hoping for some top-notch Autopsy-ish death metal. It's taken me quite a while to get around to reviewing this album, but not for lack of enjoyment.
This is some unabashedly old-school death, and yes, Autopsy comes through quite loudly as a major influence. Vocalist Andy has a deeper growl, more guttural than Reifert but not quite up for the same level of vomiting gore (though he gets close in “Psychoward Fuckfest”!). It's not really a fair comparison to make as there's not much hope in looking for a vocalist who could really rival the mighty Chris Reifert, and Andy grunts quite competently.
The speed of this ranges from doomy-slow through mid-paced and into an “old-school fast”. You know what I mean; there's a blastbeat but it's clearly a sped-up punk beat rather than machine-like jackhammering. The guitar tone is as rich and thick as a seven dollar milkshake and works beautifully for slower numbers (“Granite Hell”) fast paced death metal (opener “Anthropomorphic”) or grind assaults (“Zombified”). While all of the riffs are performed quite admirably and will get your head banging, almost none of them really grab me by the neck and demand destruction the way a lot of Korpse's riffs do. The only possible conclusions I can draw are either that Sid (here going by his real name, Paul Brew) had either little influence here in Bonesaw or in Korpse (or both). There are some pretty neat ones, though, such as the slow-burning death/doom that opens “Dark Hallucinations” (which also features the album's best guitar solo).
As for the rhythm section, the drumming is about what you might expect. Nothing too flashy but plenty of competent fills and the production makes the kit come across with a crisp live sound. The bass is another story, though; the sewer-soaked bass tone is delicious and the bass lines are clearly audible in the mix throughout the whole affair. This, too, seems like a nod to those early Autopsy records, where the bass was quite prominent in both the songwriting and mix.
Bonesaw have all of the right ingredients here for some first rate NWOOSDM. Unfortunately, the riff and songwriting just aren't quite up to the same level as some of their peers who were doing similar stuff around this same time (specifically, the better parts of Razorback's roster at the time). They've been somewhat dormant for a while, now, so if they do return to us with another full length I'd be willing to bet that it changes things up for a somewhat different sub-style of death metal. In the event that they do forge ahead with another round of scummy death/doom in the vein of Autopsy and Asphyx, I'd certainly give it a shot and hope that they've put a little more work into writing the songs they need to elevate their status beyond “worthy listen.”
They are a worthy listen, though. If you're into stuff like Vacant Coffin, Hooded Menace, Coffins and Skeletal Spectre, or if you're just an old-school death metal head looking for a modern band doing a bang-up job of carrying the torch, this might be right up your alley.