Balboa - Balboa (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Balboa (2004)

Forge Again

Think of this as a precursor to something great. Balboa demonstrates on this record high levels of maturity for a debut album.

I have problems with the mixing of this record. The vocals are recorded extremely quiet to the point of almost being inaudible while the guitars are cheesy sounding at times and much to loud at others. The bass is fairly standard and sounds nice. The drums, however, need a little work. The snare sounds nice and snappy although a little loud, but the toms are recorded really hollow and loud to the point of overshadowing everything else playing. The cymbals are mushy sounding and remind me of raindrops splashing. Again, these are problems that time and more recordings usually correct.

Musically, I couldn't ask for much more. Songs are very intricately written with interesting takes on 4/4 and 3/4 time. The drums play very fresh beats, deviating from standards in a way that pushes the music forward and gives a sense that the band is playing slightly on top of the beat. Drum fills are really standard and boring usually, but made up for by the awesome beats. Guitars usually play hauntingly melodic chords even through heavy distortion. The bass accents the chords and steadily lays down killer lines that may lack in technicality, but still rip nonetheless. The vocals are raw and intense. Lyrically this band comes off as cliché sometimes, but other times it reads like poetry. The first song is entirely written in French (which is badass). Sample lines from other songs include: "Hacked apart/Splintered into a thousand/Glowing pieces of flesh/You've become so pale" (cliché) and "Our bodies are braille/For the lonely treasures/hands have known/We remain who we are/Even as our faces fall to pieces/When you walk through this/Decomposed concrete/Houses jostle firmly/Hooked into one another/Keep your shoes clean/Keep the windows shut/Keep the city out/Keep yourself clean/Our bodies are braille" (poetry).

By far, the best song on the record is track 1, otherwise known as Tour D' Argent "Bullion". It starts out slow and breaks into a heavy 3/4 with guitar and vocals fighting over which is screaming harder. This is the one in French, which is kind of weird to hear such a poetic language screamed. The best part about this song is when at three and a half minutes it breaks from the heavily syncopated drum beat into a slow melodic transition with both guitars playing mirrored riffs sans distortion. Definitely a true gem. Another sign of maturity in this group is the 2 minute instrumental Translucent. It features an acoustic guitar base and really works in as a transition that fits. Our Bodies Are Braille is a complete face eater of only a minute and a half that will shake things up.

The press sheet of this record ends with one statement - "This is their beginning. There will be no end." I hope this is true. I plan on following these guys as they progress as musicians. And you better too.