10 Jun 2014

Bone Fragments - Blood Spatter Bone Scatter [Full length] (2013, Self-released)

Through a carreer spanning eight years Bone Fragments from moonshine country Virginia have produced a demo and three albums of black metal with the theme of... Clowns and carnivals? I could scarcely believe what my eyes beheld in the promo material; A bunch of youngsters in varying degrees of clown-like get up, synth-based metal melodies washing ashore somewhere in the borderland between eerily cheery and creeping melancholy. My immediate thoughts were something along the lines of "you have got to be fucking kidding me".

But no, they are not kidding. While Bone Fragments at first glance keep a healthy ironic distance to their chosen themes, the amount of work put into their third album tells an entirely different story. Disturbing synthesized ragtimes take the helm while start-stop guitar grooves lazily hang back in search of something better to do, only to emerge on pseudo-virtuosic soli every once in while whenever the guitarist feels like it. Once or twice the Virginian band brings to mind the works of Emperor or perhaps Arcturus, but these moments are - regretably, I might add - few and far apart.

The project known af Bone Fragments is essentially a take on black metal that wants so hard to be boundary-pushing, different and modern that instead it comes off as comically bad, which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't seem like there had been so much work put into making it sound good. The production in itself is quite commendable with everything balancing out nicely, but why anyone would waste the sound's potential on music so wholeheartedly awful is beyond me. Their exploration of a silly gimmick does not seem to stem from musical wanderlust, but moreso like a vain attempt at being different in some way that their skills as songwriters does not permit.

This is especially evident in the fact that almost every track is incredibly long without needing to be. There are only two reasons for a track to be very long; Either you are experimenting and exploring vast vistas of instrumentation or melody, or you're building atmosphere. The songwriting on Blood Spatter Bone Scatter does neither. Most individual passages of instrumentation go on forever and ever for the sake of meandering through samey synthesizer melodies. I get it. You thought it'd be funny to make a melodic metal album rife with synths over a joking gimmick. You didn't have to make it an hour long.

Where do you go when you have no good ideas? Well, maybe you can come up with a terrible one that is at least original! That seems to be exactly what the ensemble known as Bone Fragments did. Maybe they were too hopped up on moonshine to realize there's a reason no one ever thought it was a good idea to make a clown black metal band. Either way, Blood Spatter Bone Scatter is an underground piece best left unattented. And for the record, no, I don't think I take music too seriously. I just think that gimmicks mostly serve as placeholders for actual talent. 3/10 guitars.

1. Laughing as You Get Sick and Die
2. The Weeds, the Reeds, and the Muck
3. Cryptosporadic
4. Kathleen
5. The Frail and the Demented
6. The Lure
7. Would You Like Some Candy?
8. Aliens and Clowns
9. The Clown with the Bleeding Eyes
10. Euphoric Delirium
11. Even More Deranged
12. Solstice
13. Island of the Dolls
14. The Boneyard

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