Though I live in quasi-bear country, I had no idea “bear mace” was a thing until I started researching Bear Mace (the band). While I know encounters with real-life Pooh bears are no laughing matter, there’s something comical about whipping out a can of bear mace to fend off a charging Grizzly. I mean, seriously, what are the odds that everything is going to end well? While there’s plenty to read on the subject of bear mace, there’s little to find on Bear Mace and its debut album, Butchering the Colossus. Hell, I’m even acquainted with guitarist Crossbow Death and I still don’t know shit about the band. So, with our combined knowledge of Bear Mace (my one-fifth and your nothing), we push on in hopes of understanding these Chicagoan park rangers. Though we know very little about them, we do know two things: 1) Bear Mace likes death metal and 2) they’re good at it.

I know what you’re thinking: this dirty, little death metal band seems like another silly Ghoul gimmick. But, they’re not. Now that I said that, opener “Death of a Constellation” and “Cyclone of Shrapnel” have some Ghoulish qualities in their punchy riffs and vocals. But, that’s where the comparisons end. Instead, Bear Mace pulls most of their inspiration from the carcasses of old Death and Bolt Thrower records. “I Bleed For Vengeance” has some stellar Bolt Thrower chugs, while the vocals combine Karl Willets’ barking with the teeth-rattling lows of Nathan Explosion. Lord Devourer’s vocals are low and monotone but, I swear, his delivery is like a Panzer rolling over a city block of bones. There’s no denying it, his voice is one of my favorite parts of the album.

But, the guitars on Butchering the Colossus also kick some major ass. After opening with that Ghoulish riffage, “Death of a Constellation” settles down into a crawling Impaled riff, with vocal arrangements to match. It’s got the kind of sinistern vibe that makes the Doctor’s basement laboratory feel like a McDonald’s play pit. Only a couple tracks in and you pretty much know what to expect from the rest of the album. There are a variety of old-school rumblers and Bolt Thrower-like bulldozers, mid-paced lulls that stomp about like a pissed-off cyclops, and vocals that’ll reach through your headphones and punch you in the ear hole. Tracks like “I Bleed for Vengeance” and “Lord Devourer of the Dead” may seem old-fashioned, but they still remain relevant. They have the kind of death-metal chugs and neck-snapping riffs that crush you over and over again, leaving you broken on the pit floor.

“Cyclone of Shrapnel,” “Butchering the Colossus,” and “Wheel of Despair” go for something a little more fast-paced and thrashy. The title track, in particular, opens with some Slayer-like leads before unraveling a warm blanket of Vaderisms. “Wheel of Despair” discovers its inner Bolt Thrower before wandering into a mid-song Pantera groove. All of these tracks have some beefy bass and massive guitar tone and each song finds Devourer stationed high above mankind, hurling lightning bolts down at unsuspecting peons.

The most devastating numbers on the album, though, have to be “Leave Nothing Here Alive” and closer “Anguirus the Destroyer.” The former has the kind of balls and rhythm I wish my truck had as it rolled down the highway. “Leave Nothing Here Alive” stomps hard on the gas, following Devourer across waves of black-bear gutturals and wolverine rasps. The closer, though, is a death metal classic. The riffs, the guitar execution, the bass presence, and the Amon Amarth-meets-Dethklok chorus are individual stitches, cross-hatched to strengthen this mighty package. “Anguirus the Destroyer” is a goddamn beast and one I’ve had on repeat for some time now.

Butchering the Colossus is a solid slab of old-school death metal—acting both as a tribute to the good ole days, as well as an extension to the classics. It’s unashamed of its roots and unforgiving in its delivery. The guitars have variation without stumbling too far to the left or right, and the unique vocals make it memorable. The wheel’s not reinvented by any means and I’m sure that’s fine with Bear Mace because they do it so well. I mean, they even gave us a death metal record that is pleasing to the ears. So, do you ever worry about a bear charging down on you, hellbent on removing your heart from your chest? Well, let it get within a foot of where you stand and put some Bear Mace on its furry ass. Trust me, I’m a doctor. It’ll work.


Rating: Good!
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: bearmace.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/bearmace1
Releases Worldwide: March 1st, 2017

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  • D.F.A.

    Bear Mace is by far the most effective way to escape an unsuspecting bear attack. In your charging Grizzly scenario, the thing to do is find cover near a tree which shouldn’t be hard since bears live in forests and pull the pin on the bear mace, then reach around the tree and empty the canister in the direction of the bear once it comes anywhere close to you. The spray will hang in the air for a time. Try not to get it in your own eyes.

    A well placed shot from a small firearm or a rifle in this situation would be extremely difficult to pull off and unless you hit the bear in the brain or heart, she’ll absorb the bullet like nothing and keep charging. Cue “The Revenant.” Anytime I go hiking or camping in the Pacific Northwest, I carry Bear Mace.

    I’m shocked and horrified at the levels of research this website has fallen to about bear mace. For shame.

    • I thought it meant an over-sized spiked club intended for use against hostile bears.

      • Dr_Fisting

        Or a club that has tiny bears instead of spikes.

        • GardensTale

          Or a club that is manufactured in a way that will allow a bear to wield it.

          • Well, they do have the right to bear arms.

          • Apple Tree

            It could even be pepper spray designed for use by bears. Some bears find bear-to-bear combat to be unbearable.

        • contenderizer

          NEED THIS CLUB

        • Got one of those in my eyes once. Couldn’t get the buggers to crawl out for weeks.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I apologize. In the future, I will do a better job of digging through academic journals and redneck zines before laying down sarcastic bear-attacking scenarios.

      • D.F.A.

        It’s all I could hope for. ;)

      • D.F.A.

        And I apologize as well. My great grandfather’s pet salmon was eaten by a bear and I’m still sensitive about it.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra
      • Yes. This is lawyer bait.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          So, will it work against lawyers? They’re way more dangerous than bears.

          • No, no, it attracts them by the busload. it smells like…contingency fees.

    • Kronos

      I’ve carried bear mace before while doing field work in Montana and am very glad I never needed to use it. Having that next to me in my tent was like sleeping with a loaded gun under the pillow.

      • D.F.A.

        Thus the pin. Soldiers have often slept within blast radius of their grenades after all. Also, I’m from MT originally. What field work were you doing?

        • Kronos

          Paleontology in the Hell Creek formation. Digging up dinosaurs (but actually a few dinosaurs and a lot of turtles) in the southeast corner of the state. Our little patch of badlands is probably my favorite place in the world.

          • [not a Dr]

            Going to the creek of hell to unbury the remnants of long-dead things from lands that are bad… that’s one of the most metal things I’ve ever heard.

    • [not a Dr]
  • contenderizer

    Fugg, “I Bleed for Vengeance” is great! Wish their BandCamp were up to speed, cuz I’d love to hear (BUY) more…

    • Dr_Fisting

      Seems to be working fine…

      • Too much mace on the keyboard….

      • contenderizer

        O wau, it is! Like half an hour ago, none of the tracks were playable. Wonder if the review lit a fire under ’em?

        • sir_c

          you have a diesel powered laptop maybe? Spray a canister of WD40 into the air intake before opening Youtube

          • contenderizer

            “you have a diesel powered laptop maybe?”

            yeah, got it off velvet cacoon

  • Is this album loosely based on the 1979 film, Prophecy?

  • Ferrous Beuller

    What the fuck is a Bear Mace? It’s almost as bad as “Black Sites” – It’s like non-sequiturs ‘r’ us around here… makes me fucking sick…

  • Kalle Pitkämäki

    That album cover brings back childhood traumas of Silverfang (Ginga nagareboshi gin), god damn that was brutal and awesome to a five year old. Nowadays the finnish dub is completely unwatchable though…

  • ssorg

    should have named the album “Mace the Bear”, to set things up for a BearMace/WitchTrap “Mace the Bear/Trap the Witch” tour

    • herrschobel

      are you a poet ?

      • ssorg

        if I am, I didn’t know it

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    So, this is Death Metal, they’re from Chicago and you didn’t mention either Cianide or Master? Isn’t there a law about mandatory mentions of either one when a Death Metal band is from Chicago?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I did, but I thought everyone would call me “lazy” for doing that. So I ditched it.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        What’s wrong with being called lazy?

  • DJ_Echoes

    I’m new around here. What does it mean when the rating is just “Good!” Is that like, good, but not good enough for a rating?

    • 3.0 = A good record, enjoyable but not something that will get me listening to this band’s material in the future. I will probably come back to it now and again this year.

    • dblbass

      …hey…I went through this with these guys a couple weeks ago. If I remember correctly…I lost the argument. But at least they give you some sort of 3.0 = A good record. You guys rule….so I was proud to lose.

    • GardensTale

      Rating system is in the top right corner.

      • [not a Dr]

        Not when reading this on a phone.

  • El_Cuervo

    Better than good for me. And definitely better than those poseurs on that Black Sites record…

    • herrschobel

      absolutely…been listening to their Bandcamp now the second time…very good album that is !

  • herrschobel

    so the Bear left the Forest and became a singer in a Death Metal Band ?
    fantastic growl !

  • Name’s Dalton

    Must. Have. This.

    • Name’s Dalton

      And in fact, now I do. Digitally. My physical copy will ship soon.

  • Tyr

    Well, the singer sounds like a bear with a head cold. What is it with these bear bands? Bear Mace. I Wrestled a Bear Once. The only bears I know are gay ones that have a big belly and beard.

  • Shane Roddrick

    Not a really big fan of the vocals. They seem pretty dispassionate tbh. It reminds me of the vocals on Dethklok’s Murmaider haha.