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Down and dirty DM - 76%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 8th, 2013

Hailing from Scotland, Bonesaw serve up a puss-drenched, filth-encrusted blend of death metal on their sophomore full-length album. Sporting a raucous, earthy recording, some quality black and white artwork and of course the chops to back it all up, Bonesaw prove themselves as a death metal band to watch out for.

Their style takes elements of Autopsy, Hooded Menace, Asphyx and Entombed and strains it through a rusty meat-grinder, pouring the fetid mess through your speakers drowning the listener in the sickening pool of their influence. Bonesaw without a doubt deliver across The Illicit Revue, with rotten low-end riffs, bowel-rupturing bass, and a dynamic drum approach with a perfect balance between d-beat, blast-beats, and some killing half time segments. Andy Geraghty's guttural growls are well done too, ideal for the music with a cool rhythmic approach in places.

As for the songs themselves, for the most part this is boisterous and in your face, and I can just imagine how crushing the material would be live. As I said the guitars are low and dirty, and do a stand up job of rotting your face. There's a good blend of the more atypical death/doom metal approach and some grinding, crusty type stuff. "The Stench of Dead Dirty Ass" displays the latter well, whereas the former is heard in fine form in "The Forging of Year Zero".

With little in the way of negatives, The Illicit Revue is a solid death metal release that fans of the style will definitely want to look into. There's a good dynamic approach to the material here, which is great, and I'd say that across the board the album is genuinely enjoyable. If you like your death metal dirty, underground and old school then Bonesaw are the band for you. Recommended!

Originally written for

Buckets and buckets of guts - 85%

iamntbatman, November 5th, 2013

Scotland's Bonesaw are not averse to wearing their violently extracted, gore-dripping hearts on their denim sleeves: these guys abso-fuckin'-lutely love them some Autopsy. This was quite evident on their shitfun-filled debut, Sawtopsy, and five years later they return to us with another bloody heap of glorious bludgeoning riffery.

While the Autopsy worship is still front and center, there's a good deal of that vaguely psychedelic, hard-rocking sort of death metal played so masterfully by Scotland's own Korpse, which makes sense as Bonesaw guitarist Sid played in that seminal act. Don't let that worry you, though; it's more of a bizarre Furbowl-ish thing than a hamfisted mid-era Entombed take on the style. This influence is evident not only in the leads throughout the whole album but in plenty of the riffs and drum parts, as well; "Riot in the House of Worship" could be a Korpse leftover for all I know. It's a welcome, if somewhat subtle, addition as I loved that band and thought that elements of their sound could've been incorporated into Bonesaw's aesthetic pretty seamlessly, so I'm glad to hear that that's exactly what they've done.

Despite being immediately recognizable, Autopsy have always had a number of notable stylistic elements that helped make them so great and cemented their reputation as one of death metal's more enduring and influential acts. Ripping, sloppy grind, steamrolling mid-paced death metal and crawling doom passages soaked in gore were all handled with equal passion and skill. Bonesaw have a sharp understanding of how to play all three sorts of death metal and how to create cohesive, compelling songs out of them. Sure, some songs favor one over the others ("Crafted Deformity" wallows in doomy swamps, "Instant Classic" has some ripping grindy bits and "Granite Hell pt. II" favors the mid-paced) but it's all stitched together seamlessly.

While I've never heard a Bonesaw riff I'd describe as outright "bad", one of my complaints about the debut was that none of the riffs there really blew me away. They were workmanlike and certainly got the job done, but few of them stuck in my brain for any length of time after finishing a spin of the album. The Illicit Revue fares better in that regard, with a couple really powerful riffs scattered throughout the album that leave a lasting impression. There are still a fair number that just sort of come and go, though, so there's still definite room for improvement.

Vocalist Andy does a much better job of doing his best Chris Reifert impersonation this time around. He hasn't quite got the same range (you won't hear many of those sickening gurgling screams, though he does go for it a couple times) and generally stays in that low, vomitous grunting territory, but he's got a great delivery and a lot of charisma and knows just when to push the power a bit to add some extra emphasis to his vocal lines.

Unfortunately, the production on the album isn't quite as good as it really ought to be. The lead guitars have plenty of scuzz and rip right through the mix, but the rhythm guitar is a bit muffled and inarticulate, which robs it of a lot of its power. Luckily the bass has this gigantic overdriven rumble that's quite distinct from the guitar, which adds both meat and character to the album's riffs, but I would've loved a thicker, richer guitar tone. The drums are again sort of basic, with thrash beats, double bass rolls and slow blasting being the favored styles, but they're mostly pretty buried under the bassy guitar fuzz with only the cymbals really standing out in the mix. Simple though the drum parts may be, I do wish I could hear them a little better.

The album closes on a pair of the two best tracks Bonesaw have done: the lurching, dramatic title track, with its lumbering grooves and furious explosions of violence that threaten to send the song right off the rails, followed by an absolutely inspired cover of Flower Travellin' Band's "Satori Pt. I", with that evil opening motif milked for all its worth and the main theme turned into a nearly punkish, filthy death metal anthem yet not totally re-interpreted into something unrecognizable. The vocals are handled expertly, Andy's growls doing a bang-up job handling the lead and a layered chorus of swamp beasts tackling the "whoa-oh-AH-ohhhhhh" bits with aplomb. Anyone who ever had doubts about those Japanese masters' influence over the metaldom need only listen to the FTB original followed by Bonesaw's take on it to hear for themselves that yes, Satori is metal as hell.

This is as good a starting point for newbies to Bonesaw as any, and fans of the debut will find a lot to like here, especially with the stronger songwriting and riffcraft on this album. It will also likely be a pleasingly direct listen for those who may have been disappointed by the sort of vague sense of directionlessness that permeated much of Autopsy's most recent album. Now, hopefully the next album won't take five years to release, and hopefully it'll be produced in a way that suits the instrumentation a little better. Still a very solid album, though.