Tuesday, 14 November 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Boson - "Domain of Ember"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 03/11/2017
Label: Anxious & Angry Records

Where a lot of new bands want to indulge themselves, Boson exhibits dazzling song IQ on its debut and at around 40 minutes, "Domain of Ember" may be one of the most brisk doom records you will hear in 2017

"Domain of Ember" DD//LP track listing

1. Shadowlands
2. Mass of the Phoenix
3. Echo of the Mute Stars
4. Heavens Black Corner
5. Eye of the Augur           
6. Prayer of Ash

The Review:

Heavy music owes a debt of gratitude to Minneapolis. In addition to the bands that put the state of Minnesota on the metal map, like Powermad and Disembodied, Minneapolis became its own pole in the punk, crust and grindcore scenes with the Profane Existence zine and label. In the 1990s, where MaxmiumRockNRoll attracted bands and fans to its San Francisco base, Profane Existence made Minneapolis its home, and became the oasis for political punk and, a little later, the crust and grind subcultures that interspersed with metal on many occasions. It is nevertheless surprising to find how often Minneapolis' place in the hard rock and metal history books is overlooked. That neglect has certainly carried forward for the few doom and sludge performers to ascend in recognition. A new entry could shift those perceptions.

Minneapolis sludge four-piece Boson just issued its debt album to some regional renown. Despite being saddled possibly with an unfortunate choice in names – if you are not paying attention, you could mix the word up for hard rock mainstays Boston, Portuguese dance DJ Bosom or Swedish singer-songwriter Bosson – the quartet represents its city and the music well on its first release. Extensive gigging, a guest verse from Gatecreeper's Chase Mason on the engrossing "Mass of the Phoenix," and some media attention have paid off. Boson parlays it all into a  six-song album that goes full sludge without the bloat. At around 40 minutes, "Domain of Ember" may be one of the most brisk doom records you will hear in 2017.

"Shadowlands" is a fitting start to this release, with its themes of darkness, the Occult and misery emerging frequently across songs. The bass and drums, by Ryan Janssen and Rob Schmidt respectively, are disconsolate in their heaviness. The vocals are similarly downcast, while introducing backing vocal and hints of harmony at points. Dan Jensen and Jim Adolphson share the guitar duties and singing in Boson, and their chemistry is undeniable on the opener. There is good command of the mic that does not overwhelm the rest of the track, recalling perhaps some of Weed Demon's better work this year, or Bloodmoon. Boson take the solid start and run with it throughout "Domain of Ember."

"Echo of the Mute Stars," the second track, contains a building chorus to begin the song before the ferocious vocal lunges in. Guitar progressions in the track build on those intense vocals as well. "Heaven's Black Corners" is an understated contemplative cut that shows the band at its best. Supple guitars wrap up about a quarter of the way in, until the quicksand of distortion, guitars and weightiness takes over for the rest of the song. "Prayer of Ash" ends the record on a similarly contemplative and thick note.

As a developing band, Boson has an intriguing future before it. Its members do a variety of things well, including overall song construction and pacing. It is refreshing to have a band that knows itself well enough, even this early, to not overextend into 20-minute-long songs that may not work as well or play to the band's strengths as, say, a six- to eight-minute selection. Where a lot of new bands want to indulge themselves, Boson exhibits dazzling song IQ on its debut. Where the group goes after "Domain of Ember" will be worth hearing.

"Domain of Ember" is available here

Band info: bandcamp  || facebook