Released: 2015, Pulverised Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
When legendary vocalist Kam Lee is involved, you pretty much know what you're in for: chugging death metal grotesquerie with a determined old school vibe. And of his several active bands – another, The Grotesquery, just issued an album in April – Bone Gnawer is the most direct and unrefined, bearing the closest resemblance to Death and Massacre, both of which Lee helped launch way back in the day.
The second album from the Swedish/Florida hybrid – also featuring ex-Naglfar drummer Morgan Lie and ex-Aeon guitarist Ronnie Björnström - is big on simple, cascading riffs and grindhouse theatricality that often echoes real life, as on “Modern Day Cannibal.” It was inspired by the infamous “face chewing” episode on Miami's MacArthur Causeway in 2012, which is detailed in the news sound bites of “Anthroprophagist Inferno” that precedes it. “Untold Story: Human Pork Bun” takes things to the next logical extreme, borrowing its plot from an awesomely grisly Hong Kong horror film - allegedly based on a true crime - involving a homicidal chef, a murdered family and customers who unwittingly ate the evidence.
Indeed, as befitting the album's title, it’s pretty much all flesh eating, all the time here, with songs ranging from the more mysterious “Chrome Skull” or “Beneath A Murder of Carrion Crows” to the outright splatterific “Chainsaw Carnage” and “Chewed, Mauled & Gnawed.” All the tales are told in Lee’s trademark ‘urping/grunting,/grinding vocal style, with a host of guest appearances – literally on every song - to spice things up by such notables as Acheron’s Vincent Crowley, Dave Ingram, ex of Bolt Thrower and Benediction, and Sly the Goregnome of Fondlecorpse.
While there is an element of Grand Guignol camp here in the overall concept of Cannibal Crematorium, when it comes down to the music Bone Gnawer are all business. The churning guitar grooves are huge here, with surprisingly catchy hooks on the aforementioned “Chainsaw Carnage” and “Chewed, Mauled & Gnawed” delivered like a Louisville Slugger up side your head, over Lie's martial drumming. It's like Six Feet Under, but with a lot more spunk.
The song construction and the band's delivery are pretty meat and potatoes – though there brief flights of guitar fancy on the title track and “Horrors In The House of Remains” - but they certainly get the job done on both counts with undeniable authority. And the vocal teamwork Lee and company more often than not is genuinely savage and depraved, perfectly capturing the horrors being described within.