Bear Mace – Charred Field of Slaughter Review

Mark Sugar is much like Green Carnation‘s Tchort. How many metal musicians can say they wrote successful songs and records for varying genres? We all know of the Hellhammers and Gene Hoglans. Those that can play anything, anytime, anywhere. But being the main songwriter for one band after another? Release after motherfucking release? There’s no comparison: Tchort’s time with Carpathian Forest and Blood Red Throne is their best. Black, death, or progressive, the man owns it. The same goes for Sugar. From Trials‘ groovy thrash to Bear Mace‘s old-school death to Black Sites‘ ’70s rock and progression, Sugar knocks it out of the park. Hell, I’ve even heard sleeping pieces of his in the vein of Exodus and Testament. Yet, the success of a musician is only measured by one’s support and their growth in the field. Green Carnation‘s Tchort has proved his worth and Bear Mace‘s Sugar has done the same. Bear Mace‘s newest release, Charred Field of Slaughter, is that proof. You want to know what a man can do with a guitar, with killer bass and solo partners, with one of the genre’s nastiest vocalists, and nearly forty years of death metal boiling through one’s head? Witness.

What should you expect from Charred Field of Slaughter? If you’ve heard 2017’s Butchering the Colossus, you know what to expect. That said, there have been a few changes in the Bear Mace camp. These include the clientele and the end-product. With a new bassist and guitarist to support Sugar—not to mention a sleeker vocal presence from Scearce—Charred Field of Slaughter is the band’s best release to date. One aspect that hasn’t changed is the band name. Does it suggest a repellent-like mace you spray into the eyes of a bear?1 Or is it a blunt object designed for cracking bear skulls open on your glamping trip to the nearest outdoor picnic? No one knows.

If you never listen to another song on Charred Field of Slaughter, the one to listen to is opener “Destroyed by Bears.” Because… well… yeah. Being destroyed by bears via some classic Death-like riffage is killer in so many ways. Taking from the general approach of the last album, but with a better vocal mix, the opener is the quintessential Floridian-style death metal piece of the album. But, don’t be a moron on and settle for that. Check out “Plague Storm.” Simplistic, like the opener, this song delivers cruising rap-tap-tappings and dueling solos that combine suave with blistering fast. It’s got moments of “chill” but, in the end, it’s as much a beast as the opener.

But, don’t take “simplistic” as meaning “filler.” That’s not the case. There’s so much more to come. Including the Pantera-ish mid-section of the Bolt Thrower-like “Rogue Weapon,” the Slayer-esque direction of closer “Brain Rot,” and the Autopsy/Ghoul/Impaled dirtiness of the Deathishly-addictive chorus of “Let Crack the Whip.” The latter is a monster of a track that, beyond its riff-changing character, has one of those death metal choruses that feel like Death‘s “Pull the Plug.” I have no doubt that, once the pandemic lifts, it will be a staple in the band’s shows.

But, for Grier‘s money, the two tracks worth the most time are “Xenomorphic Conquest” and “From the Sky Rains Hell.” Not only is the former as absurd a title as “Destroyed by Bears,” but it’s one of the thickest pieces on the album. Mixing the dingy qualities of early Obituary with Death, the song traverses through many ups, downs, builds, tappings, and breakdowns. The latter of the two coming from a Massacre-meets-Vader barrage of deathly goodness. After the epic introduction of “From the Sky Rains Hell,” the bass (like on “Charred Field of Slaughter”) drives the pace. Scearce uses his one-dimensional delivery (not a bad thing) to meld the crushing moments into the more melodic ones. Like “Xenomorphic Conquest,” there’s bass-a-plenty, with lots o’ meat that needs smashing and tenderizing. Neither are “tender” but the beating is worth it.

Since snagging “Charred Field of Slaughter,” I haven’t been able to put it down. To be honest, I need this review to be over so I can move the fuck on. That’s how much I’m digging this new release. It’s not a reimagining nor is it a parting-of-ways to the sound of the debut. Charred Field of Slaughter is a tighter, better written, and better-produced album than it’s predecessor. The guitar solos slay and the bass is more a centerpiece than before. Sure, the dynamics are identical between the two but the improvement of bass/guitar is slight and the vocals are significant. Not only is it a tribute to the ’80s Floridian scene—with many-o’-twists—but it’s fun. There’s no great innovation here but it’s very well crafted. Next to other death metal releases of 2020, it can’t be denied. You are a witness.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 14th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. You know, like that infamous and horrific scene of Batman spraying “shark repellent” into the eyes of a shark(?) in the 1996 classic(?) Batman & Robin.
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