Material Defectuoso

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Hard rock? It's anything but on Material Defectuoso. Extremoduro may have built a reputation as a quasi-metal outfit, but their 2011 release is one very laid-back album, its lengthy pieces centered around reggae, blues, and lounge jazz, though that is something of a trick, as song titles like "Tango Suicida" (yup, "Suicide Tango") testify. In any case, it's very relaxed on the surface, kicking off each song with spot-on reproduction of those chilled-out styles, such as the Caribbean vibe of the opener or the lulling waltzy drone of "Si Te Vas..." However, as the tunes unfold -- and they get ample time for that -- the band slowly ratchets up the intensity, which means the guitars grow ever louder and the vocals, while never ceasing to be dorky, become quite commanding (for all intents and purposes, this seems a planned contrast). No song ever moves too far toward the aforementioned hard rock -- that would have been simply too inelegant -- but reggae turns to ska punk reinvented from scratch, and the waltz is swept by a tender wave of strings pitted against a rough, unadorned guitar texture to sound like a punk wedding. One seeming exception, "Calle Esperanza S/N," starts off as a convincing, chugging, midtempo rocker, but even that song soon transforms into a pompous ballad with neoclassical leanings; ironic or not, it's hard to tell. Most compositions repeat their gradual path to all-out culminations twice, which is as redundant as it is fitting. Their blatant disregard for mainstream rules proves the guys are serious about what they do, and petty concerns such as catchiness are nothing compared to the message Extremoduro are trying to get out to anyone with the attention span long enough to listen and absorb.

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