Reviewed: August 2020
Released: 2020 – Self released
Since forming in 2012, Chicago death metal quintet Bear Mace have, by their own account, mostly operated in the shadows.
Influenced by classic bands such as Death, Bolt Thrower and Massacre, the band initially made their presence known via a demo cassette and occasional, infrequent live appearances. It wasn’t until 2017 that the band released their debut full-length album, Butchering The Colossus.
This release led to positive reviews and an opening slot for Tampa legends Massacre on their reunion tour. However, any work on a follow-up was delayed by turnover within the band’s ranks. Thankfully, Bear Mace settled on a new line up, drafting in John Porada from Wolvhammer and Tommy Bellingo from Armored Assault, and now they have returned with this brand new release – Charred Field Of Slaughter.
Speaking about the release, guitarist Mark Sugar commented, “We are proud to deliver the next chapter in the Bear Mace saga. We had a lot to prove this time around, and the result is an album that does not let up whatsoever!”
Immediate impressions are good. From the offset, the album has a crisp and powerful sound. Credit for this is given to Damien Herring of Horrendous, who mixed the album with all of the band’s previously mentioned influences in mind. The result, if there is such a thing, is a modern sounding, old school record that wears its Bay Area influences on its sleeve.
Two minutes and forty eight seconds into the first song, the band drop their first meaty groove into what has, so far, been an impressive barrage of blasts and deep, death metal vocals courtesy of the formidable Chris Scearce. This shift in the gears marks the moment where I decide, “okay… I’m down with this,” and turn the volume up a notch – just in time for a soaring guitar solo and a headbanger’s gallop toward the second track.
The guitars can easily be single out as a highlight across this disc. They crunch with nineties menace, and offer plenty of rhythmic variety. The lead lines bring flourishes of melody, embellishing the verses, but also lifting off into impressive solos. There’s an undeniable confidence to the delivery here that leaves me thinking Charred Field Of Slaughter could definitely hold its own against more established albums.
Across Rogue Weapon and Xenomorphic Conquest, the crushing guitar tone reminds me of the sort of solid hammering Tommy Victor would use in Prong; while elsewhere, and for the first of many times across this record, both the riffs and solos evoke clear thoughts of Florida legends Death.
Crucially, everyone is playing to their strengths. The rhythm section certainly aren’t slacking. Drummer Garry Naples, powers each tune along with both flair and taste. On Plague Storm he hammers with particular aggression, accelerating from a metallic half time into a rapid blast. Perfect for the pit!
Bassist John Porada makes use of enough savage low end to give a tune like From The Sky Rains Hell the sort of essential muscle to ensure one listen is all it takes to appreciate it as a great metal tune. Maybe even more so on the slow and powerful mid-section of Brain Rot, a tune that otherwise rattles along at a headbanger’s pace.
Overall, this is an impressive release that has clearly been performed by a skilled set of musicians and captured in a way that showcases their energy and enthusiasm for heavy music.
I give this a hearty recommendation.