Whether they intended to do it or not (most likely not), BØG's second full length record, JIM, unintentionally evokes a wider reflection on sludge metal as a whole. While it’s a great listen by itself, there’s a palpable essence to the record as if it's divorcing itself from the scene it spawned from - like a cell that splits and mutates to give birth to something similar yet new. It may be due to trading off polished production for primal harshness – it may come from creating allegoric music that captures the highs and lows of an engaging story. However, the palpable difference that JIM offers is a carefully crafted and even matured approach to song-writing, riffwork and delivery.
To start off on a blunt note – the vocals don’t make for easily listening which could be considered a two-edged sword depending on the listener. Weaker ears might find the higher rasping barks and howls to be a little off-putting in their crackling delivery, but there's a definite artistic merit to it. A voice that breaks is a voice that's actively trying to push itself to the limit. It's a voice that carries a certain realness that you can only find in the roars of a madman, guys you might spot walking down the other side of the street spluttering and ranting to themselves.
While the album is consistantly impressive on a track by track basis, Fractured is a song that haunts and sticks in the back of the mind. A song that keeps to a single sort of riff or feel isn't something that's often seen in heavy music and when it is, it's either trying to come from a band who doesn't know what they're doing or a band who are trying to convey something with great effect. Luckily, it's the latter – the ambience of cluttering tins, cars across roads and a rustling breeze carries over clean hypnotic guitar, snagging the listener's ear like barbed wire to wool.
Peat for Scars bursts forth as an excellent high point and finish to a menacing record – the clambering instrumentals rise like a tide of tar, every heavy drum beat erupting like a bubble at the surface before the song delves back into a mire of guttural howls and marched pacing. Running just over nine minutes, the Peat for Scars covers a lot of turf – shape-shifting from rhythmic fluidity to intensely dark low end howls that could curdle the blood of a mass-murderer.
There's a lot of great sounding music coming out of Australia's vast heavy scene at the moment, but it's easy to draw similarities to international acts while listening to many of these acts. If BØG are drawing any influences, they're masking them so well through (apparently) unique drum timing and riff structure. It's an album that could only come from a bunch of people who really knew their shit, guys who know how to play their instruments - guys who know both what a good record sounds like and how to achieve that goal. JIM is smart, structured and carries enough variety to keep every song conveying a different sense of emotion. Above all, it gets lots of bonus points for ensuring that BØG sounds ahead of their contemporaries.
BØG's Jim is available for streaming and purchase from their Bandcamp page. Find it here.