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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Balboa /Nitro Mega Prayer

Regularly name-checked as a hardcore band's hardcore band because of their commitment to unearthing and discussing controversial issues, then framing them with inspired, barrier-busting music, Philadelphians Balboa are on the move again with the four songs opening this split CD. The no-holds-barred metalcore onslaught of "Skeleton Bay" offers the only remotely predictable moment among them, since "Curare" and "Rotgut" both alternate their fury with surprisingly mellow instrumental meditations, and the wordless (but certainly not message-less) "Renga" provides an evocative backdrop for the following, un-credited maxim: "A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window." By comparison, the three songs offered by Japan's Nitro Mega Prayer are far more elaborate in their construction, extended in their execution, and elusive in their wording -- if the English translation of their Japanese sung lyrics is accurate, that is. Not that it matters; exact or close enough, there's no question that "Article 9," "Filter," and "Heikousen" all deal in pressing social problems troubling their homeland, and tackle topics as diverse as environmental irresponsibility, child abandonment, and the plight of illegal immigrants, respectively. Equally complex are their sonic backdrops which are made up of often jarring combinations of hard and soft sounds, intertwining jazzy and heavy metal guitar textures, and the nails-on-a-chalkboard vocals of Tomo Nakano endangering the whole enterprise. Even so, the challenge imposed by both of these very distinct bands makes this split ideal for fans of unpredictable, thought-provoking, non-conformist rock & roll.

Split CD
Balboa - Skeleton Bay.01
Balboa - Curare.02
Balboa - Renga.03
Balboa - Rotgut.04
Nitro Mega Prayer - Article 9.05
Nitro Mega Prayer - Filter.06
Nitro Mega Prayer - Heikousen.07

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