While Sweden and Greece battle it out to see who can turn out the most underground rock bands a little country, with it's reclaimed shores always in danger of slipping into the freezing North Sea, quietly beavers away turning out quality rock music with very little fanfare. In the past Holland/The Netherlands has given us big hitters like The Devil's Blood and Toner Low but also some very impressive lesser known combo's like Dool, Gigatron 2000,and Temple Fang. To that last list we can now add Baardvader, a trio from The Hague, who given the right breaks have the grooves, riffs and tunes that could easily see them one day joining the first list. If you are now thinking that is somewhat of a bold statement then wait until you hear their self-titled debut "Baardvader".
Prepare yourself well before spinning "Baardvader", if standing; position yourself with a wall pressed firmly against your back, if sitting then ensure you are sat on a chair/sofa with a very strong backrest because after the short period of wailing feedback and thrumming bass that introduces first track "The Great Escape" a riff kicks in that is so loud, so thick with fuzz and distortion it will leave you in real danger of being blown into an altogether other neighbourhood. Thankfully Baardvader temper this masonry shifting onslaught with moments that are a little more restrained and subtle, the band using the old loud/quiet/loud trick to add depth to their sound and allow guitarist/vocalist J. Aron a little space to relax his vocal muscles and add a few subtle guitar textures into the mix without having to constantly compete with the full force of J.P's earthshaking bass and Koen's powerhouse percussion. Shifting, undulating dynamics is nothing new in rock music, let's face it many of the grunge era bands built their reputations and careers doing exactly the same thing, what separates Baardvader is the amount of musicality they manage to squeeze into the briefest of quieter passages , on songs like "Walking On The Moon", "Toxins" and "Rewind" you are pounded,, pummelled by heavy hard driven bass and drum rhythms, screaming lead breaks and full on angsty vocals but just as you start thinking you can't possibly take any more the cacophony suddenly subsides and you are briefly surrounded by gently swept arpeggios, shimmering percussion and liquid bottom end before, just as suddenly, the hammer goes down and it's all aboard the heavy stoner express again. It's an old tried and tested trick but one Baardvader use to great effect and one that makes this album such a joy to listen to.
Superb from start to finish "Baardvader" is a gem of a debut, it is angry, confrontational and heavy yet in brief moments is also soothing, tranquil and easy on the ear. The fact that the band keep those moments to a minimum is strangely its greatest asset.
Check it out ….
© 2020 Frazer Jones