Of Feather And Bone – Bestial Hymns of Perversion (2018) REVIEW

The shift from esoteric hardcore punk towards harrowing atmospheric old school death metal across the six year career of Denver, Colorado based trio Of Feather and Bone has been an admirable path to crawl. Their debut tape ‘False Healer’ showed a full-formed concept in terms of heuristic hardcore a la ‘Word As Law’ era Neurosis largely helped along by a huge bass guitar tone and unearthly, sluggish breakdowns. By the time their ‘Adorned in Decay’ 7″ EP rolled around the band had incorporated more grindcore alongside a standardized style of chuggy breakdown into their hardcore sound. It was a ‘less special’ release for my taste in hardcore and it seemed the band had tired of that sound quickly, opting for a beefier take on their split 7″ with Reproacher that same year. At this point I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between either band and I’m not the biggest fan of Reproacher‘s metalcore-lite take on sludge/noise rock. Of Feather and Bone‘s first full-length ‘Embrace the Wretched Flesh’ basically compiled the set of ideas that spawned that era of the band’s noisome sludge-core sound. It was ok.

If you love aggressive death/grind/sludge hybridization then 2015-and-previous Of Feather and Bone is probably going to be a solid jam to jump back to. Suddenly, without warning, everything had changed about the band’s sound in 2016. Hardcore shouts were now cavernous death metal growls and their ‘Promotional Demo 2016’ showed the hardcore and sludge influenced trio branching out into atmospheric death metal with a brilliant confidence. The odd thing is that there were no line-up changes or internal conflicts on display, Of Feather and Bone had simply redirected their focus towards greater darkness. It was a great decision and they went from rehashed early 00’s sludged-out pit hardcore towards a style of death metal that invoked the hardcore-informed hell of Nihilist and the grindcore era Bolt Thrower jettisoned into occult purgatory.

So, with ‘Bestial Hymns of Perversion’ lighting up the neurons of my mind in a savagely occult ritual of 90’s death metal inspired pit of growls and twisted ‘Dawn of Possession’ style riffs I have to wonder how they achieved such a massive sea-change virtually overnight. Over the last two years of development Of Feather and Bone have achieved greater dissonance, a carefully balanced and unique guitar tone, and even deeper vocal affect. How does an average hardcore band transmogrify itself into a most satisfying occult death monster in just three years? My guess is some level of massive dedication and some direction from producer, and Cephalic Carnage guitarist, Steve Goldberg as well as Cruciamentum frontman Dan Lowndes, who mastered this album as well as everything from Absu‘s ‘Tara’ to Phrenelith‘s debut full-length.

The sound and the atmosphere of the album is somewhat entrenched in the traditions of ‘Onward to Golgotha’ era Incantation or it’s modernized vision in the form of Disma‘s ‘Towards the Megalith’. As for the actual style of the death metal within I’d say it’s obscured and chaotic sound will immediately reference cavern-core death metal for a lot of folks but one could dig a bit deeper. The drummer has a style that recalls the almost alternating grind/black blasts of classic Imprecation, who also evoked some Incantation murk. The guitar work has some Swedish influence in both tone and riff approach that recalls a sped up version of Fleshcrawl‘s debut ‘Descend Into the Absurd’. Of course all of the line-drawing should include reference to the aggressive nature of the tracks on ‘Bestial Hymns of Perversion’ as the entirety of it blasts it’s way through an appropriately old school length of about 34 minutes.

When the novelty of Of Feather and Bone‘s stylistic shift from hardcore punk to bestial occult death metal wears off ‘Bestial Hymns of Perversion’ remains a solid, raw and roaring half hour of authentic death noise. The riffing could be more pronounced and readable but it feels atmo-death adjacent to similar efforts by groups like Necros Christos and Temple Nightside to blur some slight lack of guitar ingenuity with focus on solid drumming and incredible vocal performance. A must-listen for fans of atmospheric death metal variations.

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Artist Of Feather and Bone
Type Album
Released March 23, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on thier bandcamp! Follow Of Feather and Bone on Facebook
Genres Death Metal

Bound and formed in fire. 3.5/5.0

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