In some ways, Ripple Music is sorta like a modern-day MeteorCity—a great little label bringing underground heavy music to the masses. Ripple also has its own series of split albums; of which this is the third installment. I haven’t heard of either of these bands, so I’m not expecting Lowrider/Nebula here, but if Ripple’s logo is on the label, then I’ll give ‘er a listen.
Michigan’s BoneHawk gives us the first four tracks, and right off the bat, we’re hit with some vintage heavy grooves. This band would sound right at home on MeteorCity back in the day, with “The Scout” coming off as an early 2000’s cross between Red Fang and The Sword. “Fire in the Sky” is more of a slow burn, with some great Swedish grooves that bring Truckfighters to mind, though it’s more of a southern blues a la Borracho, Wo Fat or their feathered friends Freedom Hawk. “Los Vientos” blows through in just over three minutes, another spacey blues jam, before “Aurora” comes rolling through with some more of that southern blues, served up sparse and slow. Hard to believe this band’s from the snow belt!
Sweden’s Kingnomad is notably gloomier than its American counterparts. “Lucifer is Dead” kicks off their side of the split, sounding kinda like a Brimstone Coven cover, what with the vintage tones and vocal harmonies. It picks up its pace halfway through to a solid Sabbathian stomp a la “Hole in the Sky” before fading out. “Sibylline Oracles” is anchored by some crunchy percussion, including tambourine (at least off the top), before they throw a pretty decent doomy riff into the mix, ultimately ending on a much mellower note. “God of Stone and Sand” has a great intro riff that falls somewhere between Sabbath and Thoth, though this melodic mid-tempo tune leans more towards the latter. “The Suicide King” is another mellow number that recalls Thoth, albeit with a bassline that screams “Planet Caravan.”
When given the choice between southern doom from Northern Michigan and second-rate Swedish occult rock, I’ll take the former, any day.
RATING: BoneHawk 8, Kingnomad 6.5