Borracho – Splitting Sky …   1 comment

I actually have the Soda Shop to thank this discovery. A short while ago, I stumbled upon this Washington DC stoner rock quartet (who also advertised doom influences) who promptly reminded me through three songs why I love stoner rock so much. They had this one song on an Adam West split, and two demo tracks, no proper album. After June 28th, they have their début, “Splitting Sky.” And that I finished this review on June 28th gives a whole new meaning to the word “fate.”

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I expected this album to be good, judging by how well their released material was, even with the rather humble production levels. But I never, ever expected the album to be THIS good. To re-iterate, the Borracho sound is all about fat, fuzzy tones, grooves and slithering solos, thundering bass, throaty vocals and stoner vibes. One thing, though, is that most of the time, the guitar work can be described as “playful” and I will use that adjective a lot. One thing I will say now, however, before we go on: I usually prefer the briefer, faster, stomper-laden side of stoner rock, and as such, this album took a lot of getting used to – but, one thing I can say is that during the longer pieces, the transitions are amongst the smoothest I’ve seen and no matter what song you’re on, you know that it’s Borracho you’re listening to and nothing else (see note). Now, without further ado:

The album kicks of with “Redemption”, which is a cool instrumental opener that introduces the Borracho tune, but the point of the song isn’t that – it is rather to lay groundwork to make the transition into “Concentric Circles.” The song has been revised, of course, since Borracho’s demo days and is a little glossier, little faster and all the more addictive. It’s a stomper full of infectious grooves and hard rock-style guitar work. Next up is the slower, groovier and frankly, sleazier “Bloodsucker” which is a playful, slick tune laid on top of rumbling, fat guitars. It has the smoothest of transitions between just groovin’ and churning out riffs. It has an amazing solo section where the guitars literally duke it out between stable passages and taking different kinds of stabs – there are literally alternating solos fired on all cylinders, one after another, which culminates in a very good finish.

Then comes “Grab the Reigns”, another mid-tempo groove-fest that lays it on just as efficiently as before, before kicking it up a notch or two and springing into action, in which case the more technical chord progressions are dropped in favor of some stoner rock action before bringing it back again and rolling on. But the bridge back to the initial riff kinda takes a little too long in my opinion, but it’s good nonetheless. Following that is “All in Play” the addictive, slithering, grooving masterpiece of a song. The thing that marks this as one of the best on the album is it’s play with shifting gears – you see, early on, in repeating passages, a small, faster riff is played but only as a transition measure, but the band decides to follow that little piece and go all out on it and make their way from that riff on out. Genius.

Next up is the revised and elongated “Never Get it Right” which now features an interesting intro: it’s softer, features acoustic guitars and is bleaker and a little bit more bittersweet. It wouldn’t be out-of-place in a Flight of Sleipnir album, but then comes the real song that is the polar opposite: thundering bass, playful riffs as well as simple yet effective ones, and the song is every bit as great as it was before, if not more so. It stomps, it broods, it shouts and is one hell of a ride. Then comes “Grinder” which features the crowd-pleaser cowbell and alternates between slower ‘verses’ and other parts, which are faster – not stomper-level fast, but faster. It’s Borracho to it’s very bones, has everything that the band has going for them, and has it in spades. It’s a hard-hitting, grooving, lumbering, stoner rock that’s heavy on the rock and light on the stoner.

The album comes to a close with the eleven-minute “Plunge.” It’s a brooding, grooving, chill-out, slow drug song with the lyrics written from the perspective of the drug. It’s basically made out of two sections, the initial part eases us into the tunes and the riffs before this start-stop instrumental passage, followed by the second, more churning second part. This all culminates in a wonderful finish passage, where the band gives a whole new meaning to “slow.”

What is most definitely clear aside from all of that, is the fact that Borracho has come up with one hell of a début, and if this first effort is any indication, they are destined to bring us more infectious grooves and recognizably original pieces in the future. I would prefer more stompers alongside the mid- or low-tempo songs, but I can’t complain about the results in any case. For now, suffice to say that “Splitting Sky” gets a 9/10 from me.

NOTE: One of my most important criterion is that a band has to be shaped like itself beyond all influences that made the sound of that band what it is. A band has to harbor an identity of its own, while understandably sounding like one of their influences – that delicate balance is wherein identity rests, and Borracho has it in spades. Oh, and that 1.0 was because mid-tempo songs get too stacked against one another at one point.

Review Written By Sarp Esin

Borracho @ Bandcamp

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Posted June 28, 2011 by doommantia in Borracho

One response to “Borracho – Splitting Sky …

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  1. I loved the album!

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