Review Summary: The tantalising mixture between early black metal and old school Oi makes this release worth checking out.
Formed in Northern California in 2002, Bone Awl plays a surprisingly grim form of metal, given the sunny state they hail from. The group only consists of two members: He Who Gnashes Teeth, who does guitars, bass, and vocals; and He Who Crushes Teeth, who handles drumming duties. Their pseudonyms are rough translations of the Norse names Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, two goats owned by Thor who are said to of pulled his chariot. Thus far the black metal duo have released a dizzying array of demos, four splits, one full length, and four extended plays. Night's Middle
, as an EP, is the newest of the bunch; as expected it shows almost no musical progression. While this is a bad thing for most bands, it turns out to be good for Bone Awl – don't fix it if it ain't broke.
Much like other punk-inspired black metal groups such as Gallhammer
, the beauty of Bone Awl's music relies on repetitive drums beats, and simple yet insatiably catchy guitar riffs. They clearly have their roots planted in the same sort of aesthetic that Darkthrone
tapped into on their controversial classic Transilvanian Hunger
. However, Bone Awl's blackened punk ends up working a lot better than the recent forays Darkthrone
have made into ito the genre. Clocking in at a mere eight minutes and 39 seconds, the album's short length ends up working to the group's advantage. Whereas their last full length album was nearly impossible to listen to in one go, the shorter extended plays and demos are much easier to digest. A common problem for the earlier work of Bone Awl was how god-awful their production is, and while it's still not great, it has improved to the point where the production adds to the music, rather than detracts. One can hear the cymbals on this piece without it taking over the rest of what the other instruments are doing – they're not as high in the mix as they have been in the past. The best part about this album is Bone Awl's ability to fuse the depraved sounds of orthodox black metal, to the messy and fun rhythm of early Oi! bands such as the Business and the Opressed. In doing so, they are able to play music that is both harsher and more enjoyable than the majority of the work released by crust punk bands today.