Negu Gorriak

Borreroak Baditu Milaka Aurpegi

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AllMusic Review by Don Snowden

This is the bomb. Borreroak Baditu Milaka Aurpegi is one of the best CDs released in any language anywhere in the '90s -- fast and furious, loud and melodic, smart and savage, and jarring and organic. The lyrics are in Basque, but there's no translation needed for memorable hooks like the punk strut chorus of "Bi Doberman Beltz" or the simply gorgeous guitar melodies (à la a Jimi Hendrix ballad) of "Ixtoixen." It's a triumph on all fronts; the production brings out the inherent drama in the music, Kaki Arkarazo's technical savvy means the guitars simply roar, and the sound collages (with samples running from JFK to soul standbys James Brown and the Meters) are mature and sophisticated. While the metal-edged riffs central to the band's slash-and-burn mix were always far more inventive than excessive, the disc is an absolute gold mine for connoisseurs of great guitar hooks. "Bi Doberman Beltz" kicks things off with a jolting melange of thrash chords, tandem harmony lead guitars, and a double-time finale that leaves you breathless. "Rock & Rollaren Jukutria," "Pistolaren Mintzoa," and "Kaixo" work because the riffs fall right in place where they should -- it's pretty much by-the-numbers, but the numbers add up. And "Erori," "Hiltzeko Era Ugari," and "Hemen Izango Bazina" work because the band's masterful command of dynamics builds and layers the cascading riffs for maximum cumulative power. Just for variety's sake, Negu Gorriak tosses in horn-augmented furious funk ("Bost Gehiago") and racehorse ska ("Kolore Bizia"), a dub takeoff from a variant of Bob Marley & the Wailers' "Exodus" bassline (the title track), and a light salsa change of pace ("Chaquito") late in the disc. It's hard to hold back on the superlatives with music as hard-hitting, committed, and inventive as Negu Gorriak delivers on this disc.