Album Review: Buffalo Theory MTL – “Skeptic Knight” (EP)

BTMTL-Skeptic-Knight- webWhen it comes to Canadian metal, three things come to mind: Voivod, Blasphemy, and Woods of Ypres. There are others in there, of course, but in terms of major exports of the heavy variety, those three bands are common knowledge. But stoner metal? Not so much. Leave it to Buffalo Theory MTL to be the region’s purveyors of NOLA-influenced, blues-indebted heaviness. They’ve been at it since 2010, and their newest EP Skeptic Knight changes little about their quirky, swaggering brand of stoner rock. It’s dumb fun at its core, and like anything else that is boneheaded and self-aware, doesn’t leave much of an impression beyond a few listens. 

There is a fun, care-free vibe to the whole EP, and that’s no doubt the band’s aim as they move through rock-based romps that integrate a heavy dose of 90s groove metal and desert rock alongside traditional blues-styled riffs that borrow from Black Sabbath and Down. “Punishment” would have been right at home on Down’s debut, while the closing title track moves the band closest to traditional doom territory as they’ve ever been. Vocalist Anton Parr has an appropriately rough half-shout to lead the band through the five tracks here. His vocals (and, let’s face it, the lyrics) border on campy during opener “Conspiracy in Paranoland” and “Get on It,” the latter of which is a radio-ready anthem that *could* be popular at Canadian frat parties. (Do those exist?) But just like any party you attend if you’re an introvert, once you’ve had your fix of fun on Skeptic Knight, you’re ready to leave and find something a bit more pensive.

To continue with the party analogy: The EP does present some problems that, like the drunk couple making out in the middle of the living room floor, make it a little less bearable. Namely, the song structures are rather jumpy and some transitions feel arbitrary. The beginning of “Psychic Enclosure” starts with a bluesy riff, stops, and then starts again. The pause is obviously intended for dramatic effect but doesn’t quite nail it. Add that to the fact that the following riffs, despite the bluesy solo on top, is inclined toward nu-metal, and you’ve lost me. Two of the songs start with almost identical drums fills (one with a cowbell, why?) and again employ the stop-start method to move from one section to another, and one gets the idea that maybe transitions and continuity were an afterthought in the writing process.

Maybe I’ve (again) picked an easy target, and maybe I’m a killjoy. Skeptic Knight is by no means bad, and its short run time makes clear Buffalo Theory MTL’s purpose of being a party band at their core. It’s fun and has some memorable (if mindlessly primitive) moments, but beyond a few listens, there’s little to leave a real lasting impression. But hey, if you need simple singalongs when you’re piss-your-pants drunk, this will do nicely.

– Dustin

Skeptic Knight will be released on 02.26.2016 through Stand Productions and is available for digital pre-order. For more information on Buffalo Theory MTL, visit their official website or Facebook.

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