Bone Sickness – Theater of Morbidity

Genre: Grindcore | Label: Self Released
Location: Olympia/Tacoma, WA| Listen: Bandcamp

bone sickness theater of morbidity

Back in 2013, I stumbled upon the band Bone Sickness from Olympia/Tacoma, Washington. At the time, they were just releasing a 12″ EP, and had a preceding demo and 7″. I really liked the combination of death metal riffs mixed with punk beats and to the point structures. As such, I eagerly awaited a full length from the band, but they seemed kind of disappear for a bit, even dropping off festival appearances that I was hoping to see them at. After a five year gap, they finally dropped “Theater of Morbidity,” their debut full length. Unfortunately, I am not as thrilled about it as I am their previous material. At a mere 20 minutes, it manages to be bloated with useless filler, and overall just isn’t a very satisfying listen.

For whatever reason, Bone Sickness decided to tack on a sample to every track on this album, and it could very well do without most of them. Not only that, the samples are overly long, sometimes taking up more than half the duration of the track. I know there are lots of classic metal and grind records that have their share of samples, but to put this much on a recording that only comes out to be 20 minutes just feels like a cheap attempt at bulking up a short run time. Just as the record starts to get heavy, the next song starts with another sample, ruining the flow. It’s a frustrating experience and it doesn’t get any better.

The music on “Theater of Morbidity” isn’t too shabby. This is much more grindcore oriented than their previous punky death metal releases, with Napalm Death, Repulsion, and Impetigo coming to mind pretty quick. There was some Autopsy influence on their previous material as well, but it’s not as prominent here, although “Rotten Grin” has a punky Autopsy vibe to it. Truth be told, the songs themselves are pretty one dimensional, but I don’t mind a grindcore record that punches me in the gut the same way for 20 straight minutes. The songs are fairly simple, featuring a slew of blast beats and powerful punk beats that back a variety of riffs. There are some standard death metal tremolo riffs, basic 3-4 chord punk riffs, and some parts that really thrash. The drum and vocal performance add a lot of character to these tracks, which often remind me of Chris Reifert (so that Autopsy influence isn’t totally gone!). Again, I could listen to this record if it was 20 straight minutes of music like this, as they tap into plenty of what I do like to hear in grindcore.

Production wise, it doesn’t sound as professional or polished as “Alone in the Grave,” but it’s not near as raw as their demo. By all means, it’s entirely appropriate – the bass has Repulsion like rumble but much fuller, the guitars have a nice layer of filthy distortion but offer enough clarity for the riffs to be digestible, and the snare cuts through the mix really well.

It’s a shame this record is so bloated with movie samples. Even if they cut out 75% of the samples here, it’d be a lot more listenable, but it just feels like half this record isn’t even music. Bone Sickness broke up when this album dropped, but if they ever put out more material, I can only hope they correct this misstep. “Theater of Morbidity” is a difficult listen because it obviously has potential, but just never properly takes off due to the constant interruption of samples at the beginning of every song.