By Connor O’Keane
When Bonehunter’s latest album “Children of the Atom” landed in my inbox I was struck by an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. Where had I heard that name before? A quick google later and I was reminded. These are the guys whose previous album “Sexual Panic Human Machine” featured a cybernetic werewolf with a massive hard-on in a tube on the cover. Now I couldn’t recall what these self-proclaimed DEVIL METAL PUNKS sounded like, but the artwork certainly left an impression. Scanning the gorgeous artwork for “Children of the Atom” conjured fond memories of the exploitation horror and sci-fi of old, so with eager ears, I hit play on my first listen.
The subtle but effective intro track Initiate the Sequence sets the scene nicely and re-enforces those old-school horror vibes before exploding into the first song Demonic Nuclear Armament. Launching right into distorted punk riffage and closing out with a flurry of blastbeats, this track essentially serves as a crash course in what Bonehunter are all about on this record. Huge, anthemic choruses, infectiously fun leadwork, and blackened punk metal fury. Good shit.
Sex Messiah Android is a fast-paced black ‘n’ roll number with a verse dripping with malice (and probably some other things given the title) and a chorus so damn catchy it could almost sit at home on an early Iron Maiden record (if not for the previously mentioned title).
A few tracks in, it seems that Bonehunter predominately have one gear on this record (that gear, of course, being GO!) What becomes surprisingly apparent is that despite this clear ferocity, “Children of the Atom” is an incredibly well-paced album. The title track opens with a slower, moodier section offering a brief respite from the chaos, and the heaviest track by far Black Star Carcass features a downright doomy bridge section which showcases Syphilitic Satanarchist’s bass work.
Each track has some sort of signature moment, guaranteed to be a live highlight and to bring listeners back for repeat playthroughs, and S.S. Penetrator’s consistently inventive drumming plays a huge role in this. The Reek of the Reaper’s Scythe almost runs the risk of feeling a little samey around the half-way mark before guitarist Witch Rider swoops in with a ripping solo which gives way to (wait for it)… A KEY CHANGE!
Spider’s Grave similarly saves itself from sameness by essentially ripping the carpet from beneath the listener’s feet. The song seems to end for a moment (after another spectacular solo), just long enough for anyone listening on a computer to see there’s still nearly a minute of the track left. Queue some gnarly feedback and fastest four-count in history before erupting into blistering old school thrash riffage. If this doesn’t get your head banging, you may be dead.
Final track Devil Signal Burst closes the album out beautifully with a massive chorus imbued with a very fitting sense of urgency, and one last big, sweeping solo. As the final note rings out, you’d be hard pressed to find a person not hitting that replay button straight away.
Clocking in at roughly 35 minutes long (37 if you get the CD edition which comes with a cover of Spiritus Mortis’s Man of Steel) “Children of the Atom” is a ferocious yet surprisingly varied, expertly paced slab of horror-infused “DEVIL METAL PUNK” guaranteed to get your blood pumping and your body moving. Additionally, readers will be pleased to know that our erect friend from “Sexual Panic Human Machine” makes a comeback on this album cover, swinging a scythe and having a grand old time. Lovely.
“Children of the Atom” is set to be released on September 28. Pre-order your copy HERE now!