by Hugo Reyes
Some records take their time settling into your brain. Your body wants to reject the sounds like a poisonous root. Every little noise is an irritant and it must be extinguished. Other times, a band makes sense instantaneously. All it may take is the first strike of the guitar, with distortion oozing into your ears. A listener can then intuit exactly what the band is trying to get across. Borzoi’s A Prayer For War naturally fits both descriptors stated above. It satiates the listener who wants some noisy rock and challenges the listener just enough to encourage multiple listens.
A Prayer For War makes a mission statement within seconds of entry into your ear canal with its crackling guitar. The drums counterbalance all the noise and unholy feedback. All three pieces of instrumentation clash against each other like a pinball machine. Right as you think you have a solid grasp on a song, there is a minute change. Songs move across multiple genres without hesitation. “Lizard Men of the Third Reich” begins with an up-tempo blues riff. Bass then serves as the intermediary piece between sections of instrumentations. A listener is suddenly in a climax that feels more like a garage rock section.
Zach Wood’s guitar work slowly reels you in. Guitars sound inhuman at certain points. You feel a morbid curiosity as to how one can coax sounds out of this piece of wood. They are the lead paragraph in an article. The one sentence pitch you give to your friend to watch a movie. Then the metaphorical baton is passed upon to the rhythm section to continue the intrigue. The “body paragraph” in “Big Pink” essentially is this. Bassist Taylor Brown and drummer Rhys Woodruff drive the rhythm so the listener doesn’t tire of hearing the same section repeated over and over. Then there is a natural conclusion reached because the song has nowhere else to go. Songs follow a logical path that any listener can follow. Parts don’t feel indiscriminate from each other. They are the essential building blocks in this warped instrumentation.
There is urgency in Wood’s vocals. When the singer scream sings, you feel compelled to at least consider what is said. This is due to the distortion-like quality of the vocals. It sounds as if you filtered the vocals through an aluminum garbage can.
Lyrically there is a clever obscuring. I had trouble picking up exactly what the lyricist was trying to convey. Much of the record builds on the idea of a nuclear holocaust. The narrator in this story is praying for a war. Unexpectedly, our journey ends with the bomb being dropped in the mellow singer songwriter type song “Sunday at Hirohito.” A few times, more personal lines peer on through. “Sit in seat, distracting mind, plugging ears closed with the music I like.” Everybody can relate to the idea of using music too often as a way to dull or forget that the outside world even exists.
A Prayer For War is the synthesis and realization of the band’s previous material. There is an incredible amount of variation from track to track. Some songs take their time building to a cathartic release. Other songs are these short and intense noise rock jams. Borzoi, in this newest release has shown considerable growth that leaves anyone intrigued with where the material will go next.