Metal has been in an interesting state the last few years. More than ever before, the genre’s underground is becoming increasingly difficult to categorize, and acts like Bovine Nightmares are no doubt the reason why. Bovine Nightmares meld a lot of different elements together in their new single and video “Giving Little Robots to Children,” but their efforts are hardly scattered or driven by some absurd sense of surrealism. “Giving Little Robots to Children” is a stab at experimental greatness, and for what I look for in an eclectic metal song, it’s got all the right stuff and then some.
Visually, the music video for “Giving Little Robots to Children” is perhaps even more brutish and abrasive than the song is on its own. Between the masks that the band wear and the Tim & Eric-style robot children being fed propaganda from within the public school environment, there’s definitely an abstract component to the artistry in play in this piece, but I don’t think it’s so left-field that it wouldn’t appeal to casual listeners and audiophiles alike. The music is versatile and more streamlined than you’d expect, which could be what separates this piece from others in the underground.
The vocals don’t get as much love in the master mix as the guitar parts do, and although this is pretty unusual for the heavy metal genre, that doesn’t make the flow of the music any less impressive here. Sometimes going in the opposite direction of your rivals is all that it takes to stumble across something really special, and in the case of “Giving Little Robots to Children,” I think this narrative applies exceptionally well. I don’t know if Bovine Nightmares want to be credited as rebels, but they’re sure acting like they do in this new release.
I would have liked just a little more of a bassline presence here than we end up getting, but I can also understand why the band wanted to take a different route instead. The guitars are plenty heavy on their own, and by hollowing out the center of the mix with a lot of percussive angst rather than a predictable bass wallop, it definitely pushes listeners a bit closer to the edge of their seats than they already would have been. The tension is off the charts in this track and the companion video, but in the best way possible.
If this is just a preview of what Bovine Nightmares have got in the tank for their future output, I think the heavy metal community at large should take note of what they’ve done in “Giving Little Robots to Children.” The PA underground has always been underrated in comparison to the Maryland and New York extreme metal scenes, but with the continued work of bands like this one, that could change in the 2020s. This is a good time to be a metalhead, and anyone who tells you anything different probably hasn’t had the chance to hear Bovine Nightmares or their equally experimental contemporaries.