New York’s newest blackened death metal outfit released a preliminary taste of their sound via four unstoppable tracks this past October 18th. Featuring a grotesque concoction of bass, drums, and shouting, Bog Body’s fresh taste on the genre is, well, refreshing; albeit in an utterly unsettling manner.
Spending a lot of time swimming through the Statue of Liberty’s looming shadows and feeding yourself a strict dollar-pizza diet must fuel headbanging creativity and sludgey noise. Originally known for the city’s brutal death metal scene within the ‘90s which birthed bands like Suffocation, Skinless, and Internal Bleeding, New York’s history with extreme music continues on to this day. Many chaotic creations have risen from the murky depths of the concrete jungle, with one of my favourites being Siege Column (they’re technically from New Jersey but who cares), a relatively new murky death metal outfit which released their disgusting debut this summer. Be it the fetid sewer air or the city’s criminal underground, there’s something special and inspiring in the water there.
The newest band on the chopping block is Bog Body, a tadpole project which recently unleashed their debut demo, titled Through the Burial Bog. Self-proclaimed as “the hammer and nails of ritual death”, Bog Body consists of two individuals who operate under a pair of initials. While both members also contribute in the vocal category, S.V.R. mains on bass while J.P. participates on percussion. That’s right, we’ve got 20 minutes of recorded music consisting of solely bass, drums, and vocals. What could go wrong?
Bog Body’s signature sound is cemented right off the bat with “Dessicant Drip”, the demo’s opening track. Opening cold with a mind-numbing bass riff that equally deters yet compels you to keep listening, the listener is immediately introduced to what’s in store for them within the song’s first minute. This putrid present unwraps to reveal a juicy bass tone, a handful of meaty and pummeling riffs, and a healthy dose of cymbal riding. Along with the vocals which are a given, these elements make up Bog Body’s pummeling heartbeat; a heartbeat incessantly beating within a decaying corpse. Listen to “Dessicant Drip” below.
You see, Bog Body names themselves after the term used to describe old corpses that have been naturally preserved by mud, moss, and swamp mass that the relative individual last found themselves in. The collection of wetland ground material mummifies these corpses, producing bog bodies waiting to be discovered by the unexpecting. My favourite thing about listening to and reviewing metal… the learning! I can now add this knowledge to my growing morbid dictionary alongside the terms crurifragium and molder.
These themes of preserved decay leak into the releases various song titles, with “Through the Burial Bog” and “Guts of Infinity” perpetuating these snapshot nightmares. I previously referred to the group’s music as “a heartbeat incessantly beating”, and for good reason. The band actually self-describes their music as such in their Bandcamp tag, professing their style as “focusing on simplistic punishment, we worship an earnest heartbeat.”
This description fits perfectly might I add, which I will demonstrate further. In similar fashion to these bog bodies who live no more but somehow survive within pits of mud and moss, “Through the Burial Bog” features music that breathes morbidity and stinks of rotten flesh, but is somehow perpetuated by a beating heart which rumbles wetland juice through the demo’s decaying veins. One would assume this heartbeat is manifested within a set of beating drums, but such an individual is mistaken. The heartbeat in question is the bass on this album, which rumbles and resonates throughout each track, from beginning to end.
Accessorized with an addictively-complete bass tone, the instrument is used to great advantage on the demo. Luckily, the band came up with some pretty meaty riffs to go alongside such. The riffs on this album, while maintaining within the same vein most of the time, are all equally resonant, crushing, and locomotive. Like a caveman clumsily beating his fists into the ground, these guitar patterns dominate with a sense of primitive brutality than rumbles incessantly, thanks to that delicious bass tone.
One would think that an instrumental sound described as a duet of bass and drums wouldn’t be able to properly replicate a sense of fullness one might be used to, but such a thought is thwarted by the reasons described above, as well as the drummer’s cymbal-riding style. In similar fashion to the drummer in Sleep (a band that is both completely unrelatable and completely relatable to Bog Body) who repeatedly resorts to his cymbal arsenal during his percussive displays, Bog Body’s drummer keeps hitting those cymbals every few seconds, adding a third aspect to the group’s sound. These slow cymbal crashes and subsequent shakes rumble with the tracks in accordance to the bass and standard drums, ultimately filling out the potentially-empty sound.
The group further attempts to diversify their sound by using the most out of what they’ve got. With both members contributing vocals, the back-and-forth deliveries from both parties add a subtle tinge of flavour to the mix. One vocalist displays a more black metal vocal style with their high pitched screams, while the other growls in a more traditional death metal style. The two never sing alongside one-another, apart from a few coordinated growls here and there.
Despite doing the utmost to diversify the release, the last track ultimately reveals some of the demo’s fatal flaws. While “Guts of Infinity” is inherently good, and so are the other three tracks on the album, it resorts back to a repeated style that is all-too-familiar to the listener. You see, the songs on Through the Burial Bog are split into two categories. The first being a collection of three tracks, “Dessicant Drip”, “Spectral Blaze”, and “Guts of Infinity” which all revert to a similar formula of bass, drums, and vocals; these songs all last four or five minutes. Second, we have the seven minute long title track which offers a necessary amount of room for the band to expand their sound, which they do.
I quite like every track on this release, especially the expansive title track, however being reintroduced to the group’s identifiable formula with the demo’s last track makes the listener realize that there simply isn’t enough variety to that aforementioned trio of songs. All of the highlights mentioned above are spectacular: the delicious bass tone, the cymbal riding, the alternating vocals; however, there isn’t enough variance between what the group has seemed to cling onto as their presented formula.
I will admit that I am being somewhat hypocritical in my commentary, as I previously referred to the group’s sound as being similar to a heartbeat, which beats perpetually with no variation. I also think that this repetitive formula was purposely introduced, as it fits within the themes of the record. While I applaud the depth of these songs, the music lover in me desires a little more variation. I suggest throwing in some more primitive barks or cries in addition to the spoken vocals, perhaps some sections which feature only drums/only bass to throw off the listener, and maybe some drum fills here and there. I felt a little too comfortable listening to this demo as I could somewhat predict where the songs were going; throw the listener off a bit, make me feel a sense of unease.
In a mathematical comparison of the words spent praising the demo and the words spent being critical, one would think I’m 50/50 on this release. However, such is not true as the demo is meant to be critiqued and subsequently refined for the big EP or full length inevitably coming up. The crushing caveman style of Bog Body has been proven; the listener easily gets trapped into the swarm of bombarding riffs and the two-faced vocal attack. However, the demo leaves a little to be desired in the diversity department, which is an easy fix for our decaying duo. Through the Burial Bog is an enjoyable and intriguing sample of Bog Body’s sound and I cannot wait to see what the band comes up with in the future as they mature. The band’s got the right set of pieces, and they’ll be unstoppable once they play their cards right.
The demo is currently available in digital (name your price) and cassette format. Go support these sick freaks on Bandcamp.