Starting your promo blurb off with “Horror ‘n gore connoisseurs, Bone Gnawer….” will catch my eye. Going on to mention that the band is the brainchild of death metal legend Kam Lee (The Grotesquery, ex-Massacre, ex-Denial Fiend) that’s a great way to keep me reading. Throwing in guest vocal appearances by Dave Ingram (ex-Bolt Thrower, ex-Benediction), Mark Riddick (Fetid Zombie) and Vincent Crowley (Acheron) gets me salivating. And finally the cherry on this bloody little shitshow… Bone Gnawer includes the collective talents of Ronnie Bjornstrom (ex-Ribspreader) and Morgan Lie (ex-Naglfar). A downright motley crew right? Now I have to say, while I mostly enjoyed Bone Gnawer‘s tomfoolery in the past, Feast of Flesh lacked a little something. Cannibal Crematorium, upps the ante however, with more violence, more groove and the downright simplicity of this misogynistic and gruesome outburst sticks to the bones better. It’s a grinding mess of neck-snapping savagery and I like it!
“Anthropophagist Inferno” makes a violent entrance, reminding me of something Impetigo would’ve used on Ultimo Mondo Cannibale or Mortician on Hacked up for Barbecue. Where you expecting something else? Get with the program, this is a cannibal attack! You’re going to hear buzzing chainsaws, the mutilated screams of the tortured dying and dogs howling, be it for scraps or cuddles – I can’t be sure which. “Anthropophagist Inferno” like later interlude “Il Sesso Bizzarro Di Cannibali,” are not altogether inventive, but they set the mood quite successfully and make you want to keep listening. Other soundbite moments appear peppered within the meat of the album; they’re noticeable, well incorporated and give Cannibal Crematorium more personality than its predecessor.
“Modern Day Cannibal” includes all the influence of the super group’s collective past, and gives you an idea of where the band are headed. The track barges in, a frenzy of heavy-handed drumwork and lurchingly repetitive riffing that blends old school death metal and generous helping of grindcore. Instrumentation is tight across the board and guitar solos are cleverly twisted by mood and sound effect. As a taster, “Chainsaw Carnage” delivers a short solo that brings to mind the scream of a electric saw cutting through bone, “Horrors In The House Of Human Remains” captures a few moments of overly bright mania and “Chrome Skull” sounds just about strangled. I’m not sure whether Rogga Johansson (Demiurg, The Grotesquery, 11th Hour, etc.) has officially cut ties with Bone Gnawer, but subtle moments of The 11th Hour guitar-work creep in with “Horrors In The House Of Human Remains,” “Untold Story: Human Pork Bun” and “Cannibal Crematorium,” and these add an interesting contrast to the neanderthal-like violence of the rest of the album.
As with the instrumentation, “Modern Day Cannibal” is quick to show off the full effect of Kam Lee’s fetid but listenable growl that ranges between puking and croaking. His vocals are harder and more grinding than they were in The Grotesquery, and there’s less straight up death growls and more pulverising theatrics. I’m guessing Kam followers will be surprised at the amped up grinding vocals, but for me his roar quickly became the highlight of the album especially when played off against the host of guest vocalists. You’d expect this barrage of mismatched dis-organ-ized vocal contribution to sound chaotic, but it just adds to the hysteria and makes you even more aware of the blank space between Kam’s well-timed delivery.
“Along with the good, comes the bad.” And that pretty much sums up Bone Gnawer. Pedestrian riffs, lyrics a sixth grader could have scribbled down, excessive repetition of song titles passing as the chorus – these issues still plague the band. If you’re looking for lyrics that wax on like Shakespeare you won’t find them here. What you will find however, is an ode to an obscure serial killer going by the name of ChromeSkull from an even more obscure 2009 slasher film Laid to Rest, and the 2011 sequel ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2.
Cannibal Crematorium has a clean production that highlights the vocals and instrumentation to the fullest. Overall the dynamic range is a middle of the road DR 6 with some songs dipping as low as 4 and others peaking at an impressive 13. These peaks definitely lessen the ear fatigue one expects from this gorefest. On a whole, Cannibal Crematorium feels more cohesive and memorable than Feast of Flesh and it has all the catchiness of Ass to Mouth‘s Degenerate, Impetigo‘s Horror of the Zombies and Terrorizer‘s Hordes of Zombies, so if you loved those albums, have yourself a cannibal cookout and don’t forget to invite Bone Gnawer.