Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Vista Chino - Peace - Album Review

Vista Chino

Napalm Records
3 September 2013

The band:

John Garcia - vocals
Bruno Fevery - guitars
Brant Bjork - drums
Nick Oliveri - bass

The songs:

1. Good Morning Wasteland 1:00
2. Dargona Dragona 4:55
3. Sweet Remain 3:15
4. As You Wish 5:09
5. Planets 1 & 2 6:40
6. Adara 4:46
7. Mas Vino 1:27
8. Dark And Lovely 6:23
9. Barcelonian 3:36
10. Acidize-The Gambling Moose 13:23

Talk about pressure and anticipation! When all legal bullshit was over and done with news started to filter through that Kyuss Lives! were going to record an album albeit under a different moniker. I doubt anyone into heavier music have missed the legal battle and rift between the touring incarnation Kyuss Lives! and the two former Kyuss members Josh Homme and Scott Reeder. The judge prevented John Garcia and Brant Bjork to record under the name Kyuss Lives! but they could tour and play live as that band. However, they decided to change the name and got down to business and entered a studio and recorded Peace.

Naturally everybody and their mother got excited about this upcoming release expecting I'm sure a very Kyuss-sounding piece of wax. Of course with John Garcia singing it's going to have those traits and musically there some traits of that. But mainly Peace is a more jazzy, groovy and laid back affair. I have to admit it took me a while to warm up to it since I guess I expected the low-end heaviness and desert spaciness from this band's musical past. However, once everything clicked it actually is a very good release.

An instrumental piece, Good Morning Wasteland, initializes Peace before Dargona Dragona picks it up. This is one of the most Kyuss-sounding track on the album although guitarist Bruno Fevery definitely puts his own mark on it making it Vista Chino. Sweet Remain has a kind-of Motörhead rhythm section played slower with a trippy and fuzzed out guitar lead soaring on top of it. Jazzy and with odd time signatures thanks to mainly Brant Bjork's drumming As You Wish definitely brings out Vista Chino's own sound and this one track that took me a while to grasp.

Now though I really dig it's trippy and spacey acid-like structure...it almost feel claustrophobic in parts but in a good way, if you know what I mean. Planets 1&2 has a very Kyuss-like approach just like Dargona Dragona but this is mainly in the music as John Garcia actually sings differently. What I mean is he has stepped away from his trademark phrasing and from-the-balls bellowing. He kind of holds back and this actually makes the song darker but it works really good.

Rolling to a backbone of tribal drumming and some jazzy spaced-out guitar playing Adara is groovy, slower shroom-trip before kicking in during the choruses. Following a real cool bass line from Nick Oliveri the band continues along the free-form outline of jazz and a bit of blues in the instrumental interlude that is Mas Vino. Dark And Lovely picks up from there although Vista Chino ups the tempo slightly... but not much.

This one is very groovy and jammy in it's build up. Fevery lets off some deft guitar work in the solos and I dig it big time. You can call this their blues track alright. They keep it at mid-tempo still when launching into Barcelonian but build it up and letting it kind of explode in the end. Last song out is Acidize-The Gambling Moose and it's by far the longest track on Peace clocking in at a little over 13 minutes. Starting out slow and transcendent almost like you're in the build up of an acid trip Vista Chino goes all out around the 4:30 mark letting the trip erupt. As soon as it started it's over and the tempo is brought down giving off paranoid vibes before switching over to tripped-out blues. Heavy, heavy heavy....that's all I can say! And damned good you hear!

Like I said earlier it took me some time to understand Peace but once I did what on display is a fantastic album. Just take your time and give it a chance. I have a feeling that reviews for it are going to 50/50, i.e. half of them will love it, half will hate it. After all, we are all entitled to our opinions and that's how it should be. But I also think most of the haters expected/wanted the album to be as close to Kyuss as possible which it clearly isn't. True there are parts that resemble the godfathers of Stoner Rock but Vista Chino aren't out to play it safe. Instead they are doing the right thing by walking the thin line and create their own unique sound. All I can say in conclusion is Peace is a great debut by band that can conquer the world!

Håkan Nyman

I have to thank Jon Freeman and Napalm Records for sending ourselves a promo to review.

Peace will be available to buy from the dates below on CD/DD/Vinyl.

Release Dates:

28.08.2013 ESP/SWE/NOR
30.08.2013 G/A/S, FIN & Benelux
02.09.2013 Rest of Europe
03.09.2013 USA/CAN

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