EP REVIEW: Perfect Mistakes (BISON)
EP Perfect Mistakes // ARTIST Bison
For those who grew up with the explosive emergence of alternative Aussies captivating the scene back in the 90s, Melbourne's Bison were one of those unique icons who burst through the ranks with a storm of nu metal wizadry before abruptly disappearing without a trace on the brink of a never-released third EP in 2005. And while nearly 15 years of deafening silence has passed since the band's sudden hiatus, the lineup has grown, the tunes are flowing and a brand new EP Perfect Mistakes is poised on the horizon ready to knock the socks off 2021 with some sparkling nu metal sorcery.
Few can boast the prestige of riding the "first wave" of nu metal in Australia; and those who can are unlikely to still be active in the scene as it currently enjoys a resurgence from local bands flying the flag for that offbeat brew of syncopated rhythmics, electronic hues and sweeping overdrive amongst a backdrop of genre-fluidity. But as we have increasingly learned over the past few years in particular, a band in the heavier realms calling it a day doesn't necessarily mean goodbye forever, and Melbourne nu metal overlords Bison have risen from the proverbial dead with some significant unfinished business.
Forming back in 1997 and inspired by the hip hop/heavy hybrids burgeoning internationally at the time, Bison swiftly became mainstays on the Melbourne heavy music scene, with their high octane performances and mutant rap/rock stylings propelling them to tour and share stages with the likes of Hed (pe) (USA), Hoobastank (USA), The White Stripes (USA), COG, Karnivool, Sunk Loto, Grinspoon, Superheist, The Butterfly Effect and 28 Days (as well as a heap of festival showings, including Vans Warped). But between recording their debut EP Within Earshot with ARIA-nominated producer DW Norton and arriving at their ill-fated and eventually unreleased third EP DEMO in 2005, the reality of life on the road and natural evolution lead to the band taking a sudden break; a break which would span to cover over 14 years with no 'final show' or official goodbye to ease the collective heartbreak of the band's devoted fans. But - all was not lost! In early 2019, a smattering of hope appeared with the band uploading their back catalogue to digital platforms, alongside the band also jamming again and inevitably finding themselves back in the studio. Four hours into rehearsing, the aptly-titled new tune Begin Again was formed - and with it, a comeback was cemented, resulting in the impending release of the group's brand new EP Perfect Mistakes.
Whether you were a fan of nu metal back in its heyday or not, the jaunt and polished bite lying in wait on opening track Begin Again will plunge you headfirst into a vortex of salivating overdrive, splashy grooves and a stinging bounce that recalls fellow Melbourne modern oddballs Ocean Grove (an unsurprising factor, given the band teaming up with Ocean Grove producer Sam Bassal for the Bison glow-up). Up next, New Enemy pumps and thumps with industrial nostalgia, moody chugs and heaving arrangements as frontman Brens effortlessly glides amongst the sturdy walls of sound.
Gifting menaced pummeling glee (Take Your Place), melodic Karnivool-meets-Linkin Park bliss (A Million Miles) and a razor-sharp anthemic demolition (Stained), Perfect Mistakes plays to the cumulative strengths of each member of team Bison. From the cascading drums to the prowling basslines and alkaline riffs, the defiant sense of sentimentality for the early Bison wiles is balanced dexterously by a renewed spark and an insatiable hunger for salient evolution. All the trappings of the nu metal era is certainly on full display, but with a powerful twist, and closing track Blindside is the perfect amalgamation of what enamoured so many to Bison in those early days alongside a roaring return to form.
For most, returning back into the fray in an era dominated by digital warfare and significant unknowns would be enough to intimidate even the strongest of bands. But Bison are no ordinary band, and the formidable spirit of old has permeated and expanded into something truly special as the band reshape themselves in this exciting and unexpected chapter. Perfect Mistakes flawlessly captures lessons learned from separation, death, addiction and life's highs and lows, teeming with a unique exuberance that could only come from a band hungry enough to pursue their creative passions against all the odds. The musical world and, indeed, the world in general may have drastically altered in the absence of Bison over the years, but time has only made the heart and the heaving grooves grow fonder - and damn, are we ready for the dazzling next chapter in the Aussie nu metal renaissance.
BISON'S BRAND NEW EP PERFECT MISTAKES IS OFFICIALLY OUT NEXT FRIDAY MAY 28, WITH PRE-SAVES AND MORE INFO AVAILABLE HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER