So, this past month had April 20th, 420 as the kids say, the official birthday of marijuana, happy birthday cannabis! Did I get that right? I dunno I’m not actually a big smoker. But I damn well felt included in all the hoopla that weekend because I was listening to the latest EP by Vancouver BC’s BORT – The Unblinking Eye. Can you get high from simply listening to an EP? I’m sure scientists would say no, but fuck science! Give a listen to The Unblinking Eye and tell me you don’t feel high!
The quartet of Josh Percy, Brandon Corness, Crouton McGinn (nice!) and Ian Alvarez blaze into their own take on the quintessential stoner rock sound; drawn out, massively heavy riffs interspersed with trippy, drugged out sequences, BORT have clearly taken pulls from the same joint as Kyuss. A brief, synthesized instrumental “9:08” makes way to “Bloodcult,” an epic, headbanging stoner anthem from which you can basically see billows of smoke emanating as you listen. At over six minutes long, the song takes you on a journey, hopefully, you’ve brought something to mark your tracks, otherwise, you may not come back from this one. Also, damn do those vocals sound shockingly familiar to those of Big Business vocalist Jared Warren…another band from the Pacific Northwest. Must have something to do with the air over there, or the weed they’re smoking perhaps. The slow developing, atmospheric intro in “Cascadia” gives me all kinds of Fear Factory vibes, more specifically their song “Invisible Wounds (Dark Bodies,” man I used to play the fuck out of that tune! It is but a brief foray as BORT get right back into kicking out those stoner riffs. Somebody check me for a concussion!
Alright, this shocked me. A cover of one of my absolute favourite 80s new wave songs, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears. As tempting as it might be for me to say that they butchered a classic and ruined one of my favourite 80s songs, I simply can’t do it. It’s a solid cover and it does what I think a good cover song should do and that’s injecting the song with some new personality and flavour while maintaining the integrity of the original. It doesn’t have that killer triplet feel on the hi-hat from the original, but still, the essence of the original is there, and it sounds like a BORT song. I love it, it’s risky and a bit unorthodox and it paid off.
“Visions” closes out the EP, another epic stoner anthem, sorry if you’ve heard this line before. It bears repeating because that’s what BORT do! And while BORT has clearly gotten comfortable with their sound, it doesn’t feel tired or drawn out. These stoner anthems develop and take you places. Enjoy the trip.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Mike Milito