Balboa - Manifeste Canniballe (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Manifeste Canniballe (2005)

Forge Again

Though the name Balboa is sure to make movie fans everywhere reminiscent of Rocky running up the steps or punching out Mr. T, I assure you there's no correlation between bad acting and Philadelphia's finest hardcore exports. Please, do not confuse the two. While one was out filming "Spy Kids 3-D," the other was recording Manifeste Canniballe, and I assure you that the latter holds up a hell of a lot better than the former. Unbeknownst to me, Balboa have provided a proverbial kick in the ass with an album that seems to channel the chaos and ferocity of Jane Doe-era Converge, only adding a political agenda to the already volatile nature of the music.

It's almost scary just how much singer Peter Bloom sounds like Jake Bannon at times, though I suppose that's not a bad place to start if you're going to be associated with an established hardcore act. The vocals are the album's main strength, and it carries the songs in places where other vocalists might have faltered. Spastic and frenzied but never breaking under the pressure, the scream stands out above the raging guitar and pounding drums that occupy the background, a task I assure you is not easily accomplished, as the drumming is relentless, and the guitars just as loud as they are technical, able to start and stop and change sounds completely on a dime. Balboa leave you no time to catch your breath in between songs, let alone during them. The EP's fourth track, "End To Major Combat," is where Balboa really showcases the dynamic and hectic nature of the music, and also where their politics really shine through.

In the album's liner notes, there's an "Attention" notice, basically proclaiming the band's beliefs and troubles with the nation in a nutshell. In it are various calls to have your own opinion heard, namely in the last two lines: "This group of brigands is comprised of people you might not expect: a priest, a history teacher, a homeless person, a boyfriend, a kid working the drive-thru window, or even you and me / Don't forget we need each other more than ever now, don't forget the power of your own voice."

In "End To Major Combat," after the building tension from the drums and guitar, everything culminates when the vocals, full of passion and vigor, come crashing through after the crescendo. This is the level of passion and intensity so many hardcore bands strive for, and succeed only in looking like they're trying way too hard. It's authentic with Balboa, and this song, musically and lyrically, is the perfect showcase of that fact; "Herald the new dawn, wave to the gulls / Celebrate your victory, ivy cowboy / Kill ‘em all, lie in your new sandbox / Assure the kids clinging to your words / G.I. Joe will save the day."

A very impressive debut EP is to be found here courtesy of Balboa. Deeply rooted in political conscience and as passionate and chaotic as you can hope to be, this is a real breath of fresh air to those of us whose heads have been in the sand recently. Bands like this remind me why I still hold onto the hope that hardcore can be spastic and intense, but still have something to say again. They've got me listening.