Bear Mace
Charred Field of Slaughter

BEAR MACE! (Sorry, I’ve just been yelling that at any opportunity since finding these dudes. It’s fun).

Look, I know I harp on this a lot, but my favorite metal usually comes from the bands who seem to be enjoying themselves the most (unless you’re Atilla. Just… no). I’m the buzzed dude in board shorts in the corner at the “Big 4” debate rocking out to Anthrax while everyone else is arguing about whether or not Slayer’s work was diverse enough or if Mustaine was better off without Metallica or if Lars kept the band from being even better or blah blah blah blah BLAHHHHHHHHHH I’M BORED. I’m not here to argue against the quality, pedigree, or importance of those bands – I just don’t have the time or energy for anyone getting all sanctimonious about them.

So yeah – a down n’ dirty death metal band called Bear Mace(!), whose first song on their new album Charred Fields of Slaughter is titled “Hibernation – Destroyed by Bears” appeals to me. It appeals to me greatly.

Basically, these ursine Chicagoans are an updated Bolt Thrower, but with bears. There’s some other little notes here and there from other examples of old school Death Metal elite, but Bolt Thrower is clearly the main ingredient here. It’s a bear army blitzkrieg from start-to-finish, only slowing to more effectively grind your bones beneath their bear-tank tracks (sorry I can’t stop thinking about bear armies now) and it’s a fucking riot of a listen.

The first thing you notice right off the bat is just how well produced this album is – it sounds exactly like should, with a crunchy, bass-heavy backbone that sounds exactly what I’d imagine Bolt Thrower’s Mercenary or Honor Valor Pride would sound like if they were recorded in 2020. It takes literally, like, 3 seconds into “Xenomorphic Conquest” or the rumbling “From the Sky Rains Hell” for you to do a double take and say “Wait… did I accidently put on ‘Those Once Loyal?’”

But let me be clear – I’m by no means judging these guys poorly for their BT worship, far from it. Much like Death homage/near-cover-band Gruesome, Bear Mace is proving that there is absolutely a place in this world for bands to carry on the sounds of past heroes, and in this case I’m absolutely tickled pink by the bear-themed spin they’re putting on it. Can you really look me in the eye and say “No, there’s absolutely no place in my life for high-quality Bolt Thrower worship with battle-hungry bears”? If you can, you’re either a liar or you only listen to Burzum or some shit. Either way, you and I are not friends.

Album highlights like “Rogue Weapon” and “Plague Storm” are just dripping with a sort of confident, authentic nostalgia that I can’t help but be instantly drawn to – bringing me right back to my 1990 Dodge Caravan’s cassette player where I heard For Victory for the first time, and immediately fell in love with tracks like “When Glory Beckons” and “Lest We Forget.” Halfway through “Charred Fields of Slaughter” (my favorite track on the album), the band breaks things down into slow, churning bridge that proves that sometimes, perfectly executed simplicity is just as effective as any finger-shredding technical display – and it’s this sort of attitude and focused attack that really carries this album and embeds it in your brain and into your heart.

This album may not light the world on fire or bring anything particularly new to the table – but if you’re gonna do anything, you might as well do it really well, and Bear Mace pulls off their Bolt Thrower worship really, REALLY well. This is a band clearly having a fucking ball, and I’m absolutely here for all the bear-war-mongering fun. I don’t know if a bear shits in the woods, but they sure-as-shit play some quality death metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 6th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    I was going to make a sarcastic comment on this, but I just couldn’t bear it.


  2. Commented by: Steve K

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO J MAYS! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


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