Bonelang’s SAINTMAKER is an alluring enigma of a spiritual journey

By Ryan G

Hey guys. Ryan G here. If you know me and we’ve had a conversation about music in the past couple of years, I’ve probably mentioned Bonelang. That might be an overly generous estimate, but ever since mid-2017 they’ve had a ubiquitous presence on my personal musical radar. I have Brandon Hughes, a guy Chris Montooth (a sound engineer and long time friend of House of Heroes) once described to me as a professional music fan, to thank for leading in the direction of the pair of Samy Language and Matt Bones.

Everything I’ve experienced with Bonelang over the past 3-ish years seems to have been building up this moment, a whimper of a career peak that is loud yet colored differently than expected. How many artists plan on releasing a magnum opus in the middle of a global catastrophe? None. Yet, strangely Bonelang seems to have been preparing for this moment all along—planning yet not planning for this. The globe seems to be on the verge of something; I just know this pandemic is going to fundamentally change life for good. And they seem to sense it too. Spiritual breakthrough is something that Samy, the primary lyricist of the group, seems to have been seeking. It’s not quite definable yet. But he, like many of us, seems to be experiencing what it means to become a saint. My Christian worldview has an idea of what that means—but I’ll invite you to seek the truth for yourself—you will find it. As I typed that last sentence, the first two minutes of “Reflectus,” the final track of the album, built up in a way as if to herald the arrival of something greater. Something greater than vanity and fame, even if the goal seems out of reach.

I want to be a postcard of an island / ‘Cause when I look through / This glass screen like window / Everyone’s smiles seems so real – Reflectus

Breakthrough doesn’t come without conflict. The lead single for the record was the Rage Against the Machine–inspired “American Playboy,” a banger that seems to as much be a self-reflection as it is a tirade against the vices of the powers that be. I think the lyrics speak for themselves:

Shoulda had it down by now / Always fuckin around / Ain’t got a clue / How to claim a virtue – American Playboy

The lead track “Lil Sacrificial Lamb” feels reverent and leads the album on a particularly contemplative and poignant note. It explores the inner ying-yang of humanity in a provocative way. As a believer, I was challenged by some of these words. Would I have chosen some of this terminology to explore my own spiritual struggles? Probably not. But I respect Samy for this nonetheless. I’ve always enjoyed discussing one’s spiritual journey with others.

Lobotomize the Savior / And check under the hood / Memorize the mechanics / Of bad and good / I spoke to the voice / Inside my head / La la loo / Da da di / I’ve been blinded by this light inside of me – Lil Sacrificial Lamb

The musicality of SAINTMAKER is the thread that holds all of this together. It is impossible to categorize—which is a positive and a negative. Once you listen to the band, the sound should be cool enough to draw people in, but I struggle with coming up with an elevator speech to advertise Bonelang to people. Inevitably, I stumble over my words and probably use the phrase “alternative hip hop” which is a shame because the band’s sound is anything but haphazard. Reader, if you needed a short descriptor, what would you use?

I’ll point out some musical favorite moments on the album to try to get my point across anyway. The bridge in “American Playboy” is an adrenaline inducing rock throwback to 90s numetal. “Infinity Wife” has an eerie synth hook that keeps me coming back to it. “Sainted” has a soulful vocal hook, courtesy of Matt Bones, overlaying a quick, up tempo jazz number not unlike a Mutemath track. The outro chorus of “Fox and the Hound” by Carlile is kind of unsettling but at the same time alluring. The way they flow through “Lil Sacrificial Lamb make it rain!” is really uplifting.

Bonelang has a lot coming down the pike with this release. As the content begins to flow, take a deep dive into this release. You’ll be glad you did.

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