What the hell do they put in the water in Lausanne, Switzerland and why are the rest of us not exposed to it? Having just reviewed the monstrous work of Abraham, here comes another band out of the same city boasting an equal sense of intense dissatisfaction with existence, albeit expressed in a different vein of hope-sapping metal from Abraham’s sludgy masterpiece, and with a similar level of skill and invention expressed. ‘Drift’ is Bagheera’s debut album, although such is the band’s level of invention and confidence that you would never know it if we hadn’t just told you, and it rocks like a bastard, the guitars a finely tuned battering ram supported by a rock solid rhythm section that, at suitably high volumes, threatens to tear down the foundations of whatever building you may be in, and yet the music is also worryingly catchy – inserting itself into your brain by whatever means necessary as it incorporates the heaviest and most exciting elements of bands such as Pantera, testament and Slipknot within its genetic make-up.
Starting as they mean to go, the opening to ‘cliff’ sees a martial beat in the vein of Machine Head welded to militant guitars before the whole thing shifts into syrupy groove metal territory, the guitars a thunderous backdrop for the roared vocals and twisting bass lines. With the band operating in heavy territory indeed, it’s impressive that they still manage to slip in melodies without weakening the overall sound, the vocals showcasing an impressive range and the crystal clear production guaranteeing that the guitars flood out of the speakers with tremendous force. ‘Ad hoc’ has a real Pantera swing to it, the guitars and drums hitting home with real force before a turn-on-a-dime time change shifts things in the direction of Gojira’s brutal poly-rhythmic riffing. ‘Drone’ sees the band initially take a step back to indulge in some beautiful, progressive metal atmospherics, before kicking things back into gear with a scything riff that highlights the band’s versatility, the track veering between the more forceful riffs found in the first two songs and areas of melodic beauty that add a whole new dynamic to the band’s otherwise crushing sound. It adds an extra layer of depth to bagheera’s already impressive song-writing skills and it makes you wonder what they’ll come up with next. Thus it is no particular surprise that ‘rough’ moves the goalposts and rampages out of the blocks atop a vicious metal riff that flattens everything in its path.
Taking a step further into brutal territory ’80 years to learn nothing’ is a hate-filled rant that operates on a vicious cyclical riff that sounds like Meshuggah jamming on Slipknot covers with members of Cannibal Corpse. One of the heaviest tracks on the album, it’s also one of the best and is guaranteed to get the mosh-pit heaving when the band play live. ‘Ossified’ recalls the melody line of an Ancient Wisdom track set to the music of Stone Sour and amped up to eleven and then ‘Catch yourself’ slithers into view, all greasy riffs and half-time percussion occasionally bursting into blistering displays of pyrotechnics. The title track is a twisting, turning number that has a fierce groove to it in a grungy vein and as if to emphasise that fact it comes complete with twisted vocal harmonies. ‘Torchlight’, meanwhile, pushes things once more in a heavier, Slipknot-styled direction, a comparison particularly evident in the vocal department, and then the band head towards the brutal climax of ‘Eins Zwei Die’ – a thrilling conclusion to an album that neatly keeps the adrenalin rush maintained throughout.
Bagheera are an exciting band who have cleverly interpolated a number of the finest thrash/groove/alternative bands of the last fifteen years or so to come up with their own satisfyingly heavy sound. For a debut in particular it is impressive achievement that melds impressive levels of musicianship to a rock-solid production job that makes every white-hot riff leap from the speakers with devastating force and there is no doubt that if like your metal varied, heavy and with a vital groove then this is for you.
Available on October 5th, you can check out bagheera through their bandcamp page (or through the embedded player below) and see if we got it right or not – it’s a move well worth your time.