The Astral Project

"The Astral Project" purpose is to bring to your attention some of the best bands playing under the vast banner of Stoner Metal.

“Borgo Pass’” CD release (1999, Loudbelly) caught me by surprise. ‘Powered By Sludge’ wasn't of course my first introduction to the band. A long while ago, The Astral Project happily obliged to a request for reciprocal links, and I happened to download a few MP3s as an indication of their wares. As MP3s tend to do, they became lost in my downloaded archive unfortunately not leaving a dent on my musical psyche. Hence when guitarist Paul sent through a copy of their disc for review it was approached with little before-knowledge and an expectation that was entirely off mark….With a name like “Borgo Pass” which  alone seems to indicate a mammoth entity, coupled with the band's obsession for the word “sludge” (it's in the title, all over the booklet and littered on their website) I was expecting something along the likes of EyeHateGod, from the school of grind-doom.

Surprisingly not……but infact my ears where confronted by an album of glorious Psychedelic Grunge.
‘Powered By Sludge’ is very progressive in nature. While maintaining a strong link to the Stoner Rock scene that spawned them (see riotous CD opener ‘Meat Wallet’) they are certainly at their very best when molding today’s traditional (fuzzy up-tempo) styles with alternative rock and dare I say grunge elements.  This is a band akin to "Celestial Season" circa ‘Lunchbox Dialogues’, (now that is a  GLOWING recommendation), here to push the boundaries and experiment with a genre that must progress or potentially stagnate. Through the use of subtle, doomy passages that catch the listeners attention (see: Afterbirth, Drunkards Doom, Kitchen) and scene-atypical instruments (for example the cello on ‘Beer Garden’), a more well rounded album is hard to find.
While ‘right in the nuts’ ROCK is burnt well into ‘Powered By Sludge’s’ plastic, there is also fair amount of cross-scene appeal to this release that could potential gain them fans from radically different musical backgrounds and even radio play on Rock-radio. It is that professional, and damn good too.

What I do have to question however, is “Borgo Pass’” image. With an album sleeve resplendent in motoring machine parts and aforementioned love for the word ‘sludge’, their image falls into the realm of fuzzrock. Now while, of course there is nothing wrong with this (the mighty  “Fu Manchu” take a bow) it seems generic and ill-fitting on “Borgo Pass’” body. Maybe next time (and I sincerely hope there will be more) a change in tack could be tried. I feel a slightly more, ‘highbrow’ approach to their image is in order. However this is of course much easier to comment on then actually carry out, but it is a point that I feel could really make the band and help push them out from the crowd.

Check out there website for full downloadable tracks, now!!!!! 

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