'Berdoa' - Berdosa [ALBUM REVIEW]
Berdosa’s debut album will destroy your car speakers.
RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2020
GENRE: STONER METAL / DOOM METAL / HEAVY METAL / ALTERNATIVE METAL / SLUDGE METAL
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Berdoa really really wants to be Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone (2000), which means it’s been mixed to shit (in the best possible way) with Ravi Shanker on what sounds like his high school drum set and Eze’s disgustingly fuzzy bass riffs lifting up Amber’s old school rock belting.
We open to the painfully repetitive Godsmoker. But don’t let that full you, as the album unfurls, we see a band who isn’t afraid of trying on different textures. Like I don’t think anyone expected Amber’s growly throat burns on Crutch for the Weak or the uncredited female vocalist on Bonetongue. (EDITOR's NOTE: We later found out that the harsh vocals on Crutch is actually Imran Muhammad, who fronts KL-based death metal band, Mothflesh. Apologies. The vocals are still sick though, in a good way)
The album culminates in the 8-minute monster Joget Ghaib, as ambitious as its runtime. It is here, the strings unravel and the problems are most obvious. Like most of the album, the closing track tries to keeps your attention by throwing as many things as it can at you to see what sticks: Pitched up vocals, fluttery guitar arpeggios. If you ever wondered what Bohemian Rhapsody would sound like if Queen smelled like expired hash and dingy punk shows, this is it.
And even with the sonic variety, every riff sounds like a remake of the one that came before. There are even passages on Tuan Haji Natan and Bonetongue that sound they could’ve been stitched together - it’s sort of like having roti telur for lunch roti canai for dinner, for an entire month.
Instead of an album hell-bent on a ‘concept’, it’s obvious that many songs were intended for the stage with much of its flair coming from the drums bashing out at an easy to follow 4/4 or 6/8 (no doubt for the stoner audience who smoked a little too much) and the rhythm section competing to see who can play the same riff better. What is loss however is contrast, counterpoint, and the buildup that make for a memorable narrative.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having your stoner metal-themed workout mix on shuffle, it’s just surprising coming from their Smells like Tree Spirit EP which offered everything from glitch to grunge, but still managed to roam around the label ‘progressive metal’. But if you already have your bong in hand ready to headbang, Berdoa will more than suffice.
In its 37 mins runtime, Berdosa has taken the language of fuzz and is able to make poetry – that is, beauty in fragments. The album is a testament that the three-piece has cracked the stoner metal code, and can summon the same demons their influences do (like the closing riff from Left Hand of God which sounds suspiciously like Deftones’s Risk).
There’s a lot of things done right on Berdosa. Kartika is the appropriate length that Fear Inoculum (2019) should’ve been and Nagaraja somehow manages to sounds like the dudes from Mastadon singing over one of Muse’s heavier songs – a surprisingly good combination. But until they carve out a sonic space of their own, it’d be hard to call this one a gamechanger. That said, at least they’re not Greta Van Fleet.
KARTIKA, BONETONGUE, NAGARAJA
GODSMOKER, CRUTCH FOR THE WEAK