"Children of the Atom"

By El Chief

While re-reading John Wiederhorn and Kathleen Turman's excellent "Louder than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal," I was struck by the passage where LA Guns singer Phil Lewis notes that glam metal met its end in part because too many people were being signed merely because they had hair for days but in all actuality couldn't play an instrument. Contrast that genre's short run with that of black metal's. Relative newcomer Bonehunter released their first EP nearly 30 years after their heroes in Bathory helped invent it. And despite the fact that Bonehunter still needs to tighten their playing abilities, their soon-to-be released album "Children of the Atom" still blows away anything that came from the glory days of crotch rock.

What helps is that Bonehunter knows precisely why black metal is standing the test of time. Their mix of rock-a-billy, thrash and d-beat punk is straight from the heart and complete with the lo-fi approach that helped endear the likes of Venom to the masses. While most bands fall apart sometime between their debut and sophomoric efforts, the ten tracks on "Children of the Atom" are forged from authenticity. This is particularly true in the long-play's fourth track "The Reek of Reaper's Scythe." From a blistering solo to vocals that sound chiseled out of the ice of the Carpathian Mountains, Bonehunter will warm the heart of any black metal fan who may feel betrayed by the twin gut-punches of Nergal pushing Behemoth further into the realm of death metal and the schism that forced Abbath to part ways with Immortal.

The only real misstep on "Children of the Atom" is how it ends. "Devil Signal Burst" is a ball-buster that turns into a sprawling epic about the time the chorus begins. It's a song that begs for a slow fade out (like the kind that Bon Scott-era AC/DC was notorious for playing). The type that makes you think Bonehunter will just be out there in Finland's woods, jamming hooks, riffs and bridges in those long, cold winter nights until it's time to drop the needle on their fourth record. And that's a day I'm already looking forward to.