Friday, November 20, 2009 Reviews "Year Zero"

If you meshed together metal staple Motorhead’s ever-heavy riffs, The Video Dead’s chaotic song structure and enthusiasm, and hardcore veteran Death Before Dishonor’s unrelenting hardcore delivery, then you’d have the Toronto based Bastard Child Death Cult (BCxDC). While technically only a year old, the band is really the spiritual successor of lead vocalist Adam Sewell’s previous act, Damn 13. But this isn’t purely Sewell’s show. No, every one of the band’s five members, consisting of members of acts like The Cancer Bats and Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah, find themselves at the centre of the hectic and frenzied product. As implied by the band’s self-made GI-JOE video montage (check it out on their website), BCxDC’s debut, Year Zero, is this year’s soundtrack to destruction.

Featuring three equally active guitarists, Year Zero never slows down – and certainly never offers listeners a chance to catch their breath. Like in “Blackout,” most tracks feature the tough, guiding crunch of heavy riffs and a thunderous backing bass – the type you hear when the metalhead sitting next to you on the bus closes their eyes, and air drums their way to hearing loss. In other words, BCxDC makes loud music that should be embraced without reserve.

The album also features occasionally surfacing metal solos, serving to elevate BCxDC’s sound and cement them as more than mere noise rockers. The solos on tracks like “Halo” and “Black Thorn Rising” demonstrate unquestionable technical ambition and ability. Such moments astutely counterbalance quick and messy tracks like “Slave One” and “American Graveyard,” making the album digestible for those who don’t normally experience this much intensity in a given year.

But BCxDC’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. With such a dedication to raw and unhinged chaos, there isn’t a lot of room for musical growth in the current formula. Thankfully the album only runs twenty-five minutes, so repetition never really becomes an issue, but it does force the question: where does BCxDC go from here? Will they water down their product? Will they keep the formula the same? How will they expand their existing sound? According to a recent news post by Sewell, the next album will feature even heavier riffs (I’ll pose the obvious question: how?), and a “massive groovetastic whitey-twostep.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but if it ends up nearly as well done as anything on Year Zero, then Bastard Child Death Cult’s future looks bright. 4/5

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