After three albums of uniformly excellent, Afrofunk-fueled instrumentals—titled, tellingly, The Budos Band, The Budos Band II, and The Budos Band III—where were the Budos Band to go? As great as their output has been to date, the New York ensemble had more or less painted themselves into a corner. In truth, there were many directions the group could have headed toward on their fourth album, but they dauntingly chose the path of most imaginable resistance: doom metal. Rub your eyes all you want; it won’t change that sentence. The Budos Band’s new album is called Burnt Offering—and from its wizard-sporting cover on down, it draws heavily from the late-’60s/early-’70s well of dark, arcane proto-metal.
To be perfectly clear: This is not your uncle’s Primus-shirted funk-metal. The majority of Burnt Offering is built on the same framework that the Budos Band has always used—elegantly simple guitar, deep pockets of syncopation, and bold shouts of brass—but here it’s been wreathed in the thick organ vamps of the bands that helped inspire metal, namely Iron Butterfly and Uriah Heep. Those looking for kvlt cred won’t find it here, nor should they; the album’s heaviest tracks, like the fuzz-slathered “Aphasia” and the gutbucket-distorted title track don’t come anywhere near the metal orthodoxy of Pentagram, let alone Black Sabbath. This is still Afrofunk of the Fela Kuti faith, with “Tomahawk” being the most horn-splashed and intricately polyrhythmic of the bunch.
When the delicate guitar intro of “Magus Mountain” drops into a propulsive, blown-out low gear, though, it’s as if Sir Lord Baltimore is jamming with Maggot Brain-era Funkadelic. The fidelity is immaculately retro, saturated and reverberating, which lends an even more eerily anachronistic tone to simmering, sinuous cuts such as “Black Hills” and “Turn and Burn”, the latter of which lands the album in some swampy epoch of alternate history. “Into the Fog” more or less says it all; with organ chords transmogrified into haunted-house groans, and monstrous stomps shuffling somewhere between Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla” and Fela’s “Zombie”, the song is all meat, zero subtext. Not that an album this earthy needs anything so subtle to get its freaky point across.
Burnt Offering has its own kind of subtlety, and most of it is in the interplay between meter, genre, and mood. When it falls a little flat, on the tame, muted “Trail of Tears” and “Shattered Winds”, it still manages to register as better-than-average Afrofunk with a tasteful layer of filthy hard rock smeared on top. It’s not a profound exercise in fusion, and at times it seems the band might be amusing themselves at the expense of being taken seriously. But the most remarkable thing about Burnt Offering is that, at its core, it really isn’t all that much of a departure from what the Budos Band has always done. The neatest trick the album pulls off is in finding the unexplored commonality between Afrofunk and doom metal—deep grooves, murky atmosphere, hypnotic riffs—then playing them with joy and loopy abandon. Spooky, funky, freedom-loving fun: The chance to embrace something like that doesn’t come along often, and it’s to be cherished.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1tdNDkI