(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Recording review - Big Bang, Diez tragos (2012)

Spanish hard rock expands into expressive post-rock

Barcelona rockers Big Bang filled their last album, Sin renuncia a la esperanza (review) with a hard rock sound, gilded with a metallic edge. Their latest album, Diez tragos, shifts towards post-rock arrangements and throws in some synthesizer, but keeps the metal flair. Most importantly, Big Bang maintains the knife edge dynamic between punchy grind and reflective wail.

No soy un ángel starts strung with restrained tension. The solid beat, twisty synth line and throbbing bass recall Rush at their progressive best. The verses stay sparse with occasional eruptions of guitar, but that sets up the chorus shift. The guitar lurches first and drags the rest of the band into a heavier uptempo section. Near the end, the chorus extends into a more driving beat to support an angular solo. The alternation creates a rich balance of restraint and expressiveness.

Big Bang's industrial sound reflects bits of Nine Inch Nails and other hard rocking bands. On Soy inmortal, the jerky chop rhythm and progression is a bit like Living Color covering the James Gang's Funk #49. It's a thick, riff driven song. The spastic grind beat sets up a tripping, singing solo that offers a taste of Jeff Beck dipped in metal.

My favorite track, though, was the moody Crucificame. The meandering female vocal start has a Moorish feel, but the music quickly drops that stark, mournful sound to set a stalking rhythm. A wicked bassline runs through the song like a thick, heavy chain. The discordant crunchy guitar has a taste of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, but the effect is more Soundgarden. The song sections flip by quickly like a post-rock slide show.

Aside from their technical skills, Diez tragos stands out because of the thread of experimentalism running through the songs. Where their last album featured some Adrian Belew style stunt guitar, Big Bang has gotten more imaginative. Watery reflections of guitar behind Sufrir, hypnotic Arabic rhythms on Ver llorar desiertos, or the experimental sound collage of Franco is dead - the band's creative approaches rely on an extended sonic palette.

Diez tragos has a lot to offer, even if you can't follow the Spanish: music, emotion, and tone are universal.

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