Monday, May 05, 2008

Burbis - Curse of the Golden Dracula CD Review

It would be next to impossible to review music, movies, or… well, anything for that matter, if genres didn’t exist. They are wonderful helpers that can be used to set the confines of whatever is being discussed right at the outset. Simply by saying that a CD is hardcore or that a movie is a comedy, the target audience, genre conventions, and personal influences on that particular subset of media come into place. Just a few words of description can put a piece of media into a proper context, but it can also paint it into a corner, which is always the associated risk with using genre tags. When I say “instrumental rock” there is automatically a stigma attached to whatever I will be talking about. In most cases, that’s ok, but not always. In this case it’s quite appropriate for Burbis to be governed by the confines of the “instrumental rock” genre, but there should be an asterisk next to that tag when talking about them. They may be restricted to this genre, but they do their best to add a little flourish here and there to set them apart.

With your first run through Curse of the Golden Dracula you will definitely hear the influences of post-rock heavyweights Explosions in the Sky and Caspian. There are more than a few passages where the trademarked EITS twinkling guitars are used to push a song forward, but unlike the aforementioned band Burbis inject some much needed weight to the usually sparse and mellow twinkles EITS are known for. Along with this added oomph, there are still moments that seem to blatantly rip off EITS and all of the EITS clones, such as the majority of “The White Snake”. This song is over nine minutes long consisting of about seven minutes of growing, slow burn build-up to a bursting crescendo of instrumental glory. I bet you’ve never heard that a hundred times before...

Even thought there are some been there, done that songs on this album, there are a couple of gems as well. “Winter Bloom” offers up a novel addition of Nintendo-ish keyboards to complement the melodic and sparse guitar work of the song. As odd as it sounds, this funky keyboarding actually works. The keys found here, and on a couple of other tracks, never overwhelm the song or feel completely tacked on. Instead they actually feel like they’re an integral part of the song. If only Burbis could have found a way to integrate this unique instrumentation into the majority of their songs, since then Curse of the Golden Dracula would have felt a little more unique instead of suffering from a lack of uniqueness on about half of the tracks. The combination of the keys and some of the heavier post-rock moments, such as what’s found on the title track, would be a heck of a combination that could really get this band noticed, but they’re not quite pulling it all together at this point in time.

There’s a significant amount of potential to be found in the members of Burbis, but they’re playing in a genre that is becoming quite crowded and has some extremely talented bands reigning over all of the up and comers. As mentioned before, they just need to do something that will get them a little separation from their peers. Once they achieve that, it’ll be a simple thing for their talent to take over as they create something really great. Until then, however, Burbis are definitely creating competent music, but it just doesn’t quite reach its full potential.

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