Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bone Merchant - Trichotillomania demo tape

I found this tape at a used bookstore a month or so back.  The spine was the first thing I had to go on, and it seemed cool at first.  A band called Bone Merchant with their logo displayed in a military font on a random label called Tapeworm Records, sounds sick so far.  Flipping the tape around and seeing the cover art was a bit of the shock, a "trippy" drawing of a guy eating cereal (this image is actually a separate image glued onto the jcard).  Okay, whatever, I was still intrigued.  The song titles sounded cool and the band was from Iowa City in the early 90s, kind of a dark area as far as my history of local music knowledge goes, so I was obligated to get it.

At first listen to this tape, I don't really know what this band is trying to go for.  Obviously there's a late 80s/early 90s Iowa City sound vibe going on.  One could maybe liken this to a poor man's Iowa Beef Experience in a round about way?  It's got that slower, crunchier sound going on, with a few random cool sounding guitar solos amidst all the crunchy chugging.  It almost has groove vibe going on with it, like maybe they wanted to be a thrash band but the drummer just couldn't keep up so they had to play slower?  The thrash riffs are definitely there, just played too slow.  Or maybe I'm wrong and they were going for the midpaced and loud style that just doesn't come across too well in most spots with this recording.  The song "Don't Pull My Tail" works very well in the "slow and loud" realm, though, and sounds very cool and doomy throughout.  Weird spaced out hits with feedback filling in some of the blanks, it's definitely the best of the originals on here.  Mostly I just want a majority of these songs to be played faster because they would sound cooler that way.

While the music itself is fine, the vocals are, well, you know, oof, and a lot of the lyrics are cringe worthy ("Hey baby, come over to my place, we'll screeeeew.  Just kidding.  Well, maybe not.  Let's fuuuuuuck."  C'mon!).  This tape would sound pretty cool if the vocalist would just let loose and yell his head off (that way I couldn't tell what he's saying...), but what we have here is a guy that doesn't seem too comfortable doing vocals, holding back from going too nuts on the mic.  It's just mid range grit with a a pseudo growl/scream thrown in, a type of vocal delivery that works sometimes, but here it doesn't.  I think what's most annoying about these vocals to me is, on the last song, a cover of "Chunks" by Dinosaur Junior, the dude's voice sounds really, really good.  He's yelling, he's hoarse, he's not holding back, and there's a cool reverb and echo effect going on, something that should be happening throughout the entire demo. Better late than never I suppose.

So, all in all, this tape is okay if you can get past the goofy vocals and lyrics (which is honestly hard to do in some spots) and you are fully aware that this is not going to be a fast band, no matter what the skull gripping the radioactive symbol with mushroom clouds exploding in the background on the sticker that comes with the tape would lead you to believe.  Worth a download for the last two tracks at the very least.

Bone Merchant - Trichotillomania demo - 1991

 1. Head of the Nail
2. B.C. (Benevolent Czar)
3. Who Stole My Skin?
4. Second Life
5. The Death Knell
6. Cerebral Excursion
7. Stone Groove
8. Milktoast
9. Don't Pull My Tail
10. Chunks

Click here to download.