CD Review: Chibalo

Chibalo: Chibalo (Init Records)

It could be said that Chibalo play stoner metal with some additional effects and flourishes; of course, Minneapolis bands tend to skew genre lines. Whenever the conventions become too predictable, Chibalo switch up—adding pedals, distortion, and noises much harder to identify.

"Pink Door" starts the record with buzz-saw guitars and Travis Bos's distorted vocals, establishing a Midwest noise influence that is a bit misleading in comparison to the rest of the record. The second song, "Krak Sheep Haus," is more representative. The song begins with doomy, Sabbathy guitars as Bos sings, "Take this knife and carve out a heaven." His voice is heavily distorted, but the eeriness is a perfect partner with the heavy riffs. Mickey Kahleck's snares push the momentum forward, oozing through the sludge until Bos switches gears, screaming over unearthly, high-pitched guitar noises as the tempo increases. Rather than self-destructing, the song shifts to a contained mayhem just before its end. Another notable track is the closer, "Let the Man Down." It begins with a drum fill, followed by more spacey, heavy riffs and Bos's manipulated voice, until a series of blips and vocal echo effects shifts the song into a pounding rage led by dual guitars. Of course, the record doesn't peak and then abruptly end. Instead, the band plods with a fading noise accentuated by discordant bass just often enough to feel like there might be a final swell to the action.

If there is a formula to Chibalo's songwriting, it's to establish moody, doomful sludge early in the song. Then the band will shift gears and break into a noisy, experimental jam session that rocks out without becoming or excessive. There is a fine line between experimental noise and pretentious wankery, but Chibalo manage it without interrupting the album's rhythm or cohesion. With their self-titled debut, Chibalo may carry an ominous tone but, musically, the band aims for the sky.

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