Hailing from the far west side of this nation, Vancouver’s BORT is a group whose new album, Crossing The Desert, could very well be in contention for my favourite rock record of the year. Its effortless combination of genres, mixed with some blood-pumping riffs, solid performances, and crisp production made me a big fan upon first listen, despite never digging too deep into the world of stoner rock.
The record kicks off with “White Desert Sun,” a song that gives the listener the SparkNotes of their entire aesthetic in two jam-packed minutes, starting slow and atmospheric before breaking into heavy-hitting riffage. The opener transitions seamlessly into the record’s second track, “The Beerfields of Bridgeview,” where vocals are introduced. Although Josh Percy’s rugged voice feels slightly out of place and vulnerable at first, it’s an easily acquired taste once the instruments get cranked back to eleven.
Other pieces worth mentioning are “Sacraments & Bayonets,” which is a slower tune, but hardly slows down in vocal intensity. Although some solid unclean vocals make their entrance here, something about the whole vocal performance doesn’t gel as well with the instrumental as it does on the songs before it. It’s probably my least favourite song on the record if I had to pick one, but it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb among the track listing, despite its slight change of pace. A lot of that may be thanks to the two guys sonically engineering the album, who has done an immaculate job of making everything sound not only great but slightly different from track to track while still packing the same refreshing punch with each new song.
The album ends on “Soul Eater,” an eight and a half minute closer which is essentially two songs stitched together, with the latter half being significantly more enjoyable. Its quicker tempo and solid groove makes it a highlight and closes the album on a strong note before fading back into the atmospheric sounds teased earlier in the record.
In case you need me to tell you again, Crossing The Desert is a great album, and one I’m stoked to add to my collection. The overall production and writing really make it stand out, and the riffs on this album are simply fantastic. They give so much flavour and personality to the album’s nine tracks, with the licks on “Worldbane,” “Lady Kyteler,” and “The Flood” being my favourites. So, whether you’re a fan of that Kyuss desert rock sound, or heavier, stoner metal bands like Mastodon, you’ll find that BORT’s new record definitely falls somewhere on those two genres’ metaphorical crossroads, and is well worth your time.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Mike Milito