[17 January 2014]
Argentinian garage-stoner-freakout outfit Capsula are back with another murky, lo-fi, heavily reverbed offering of guitar-centric rock. The trio don’t stray far from the formula of their previous outing, In the Land of Silver Souls, although this time around there’s a bit less Iggy-esque vocal posturing. Don’t worry, though: There’s plenty of howling guitar, trippy vocals, and tribal percussion on hand to keep fans satisfied. As someone famous once said, if you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you’ll like.
Opening track “Riverside of Love” blends walls of guitar-through-the-meat-grinder rhythms with a pulsating bass line and vocals about, oh, who knows what. It kicks the proceedings off with a bang, though, which is all you can really ask. Follow-up tunes “Constellation Freedom” and “Blind” keep the uptempo good times rolling, the former with a focus on the smoother, female vocals of bassist Coni Duchess and the latter with a punchy thud-thuddy-thud-thuddy-thud rhythm. At their catchiest, Capsula mix a sweet pop-melodic sensibility in with all the murk, and these two songs are fine expressions of that.
The album carries on from there, rarely flagging in energy, if seldom veering far from the established template. “Seven Crimes” is the odd man out here, a midtempo, bluesy number that’s heavy on the bass tones and stretches on for nearly five minutes – and could have been longer. Coming in at number four on the album, it’s placed perfectly to give the listener a little respite from the opening salvo of high-energy tunes. It’s also, arguably, the strongest track on the album, and a strong argument in favor of more such blues-rock explorations, but alas, there are no more to be found.
If there’s a criticism of the record as a whole, it’s this. The back half is consistent with the first, to the point where the listener gets the sense of the band going over familiar territory. There are good tunes here, sure; but there are also a couple of forgettable tracks, the throwaways “The Fear” and “Trails of Senselessness” serving mainly to pad out the album more than anything else.
This is a minor criticism though: Capsula do what they do very well, and had these later tunes come earlier on the album, I might well be comparing them favorably to those that followed after. There are nuggets to be found later on as well, like the crunchy “You Cannot Blame” and the downtempo murk of album closer “Birds of Wood”, which finds the band again utilizing studio effects in service to a fine melody. It’s a satisfying ending to an album that, for the most part, delivers the goods.
Capsula has been releasing records since 1999, and their vision has only gotten stronger as they have gone on. Guitar rock has nothing to fear for its future as long as there are committed bands like this on hand to drag it onward, with one foot in the past and one pointed toward the future.