Band: Aridonia | Album: Aridonia | Genre: Stoner metal, Progressive rock | Year: 2020
From: Jujuy, Argentina | Label: Independent
For fans of: Tool, Kyuss, Baroness
Aridonia hail from Jujuy, a city in Argentina’s extreme northwest. That high-elevation, arid backdrop makes itself well-known on Aridonia, the band’s debut full-length record. Blues and stoner rock are the backbone of most songs here. The four musicians in the band are skilled and creative, so they’re able to twist those influences into something weird and exciting.
“Abismos” opens the album on a foreboding note. A simple, minor-key guitar pattern rings out, and haunting vocals join thereafter. It’s not long before the distortion kicks in, though, and the band begin playing a weird, high-energy stoner-jazz riff with subtle Middle Eastern touches. Aridonia pull out all the stops for this song. They cycle through odd musical themes, seamlessly blending stoner metal and jazz-fusion. “Fantasmagoría” begins with more traditional stoner metal fare, but the jazziness and exercises in technicality reemerge after the first verse.
“La Serpiente y la Manzana” opens up with a fittingly slinky, slithery guitar line. It maintains momentum well for its first five minutes, but by the time it ends, it’s begun to overstay its welcome. This piece is also one of the more straightforward, bluesy tracks on the album, lacking much of the progressive flair seen elsewhere. “Magia Negra” is similar, in that it’s high-energy and pretty fun but not exactly proggy.
“Panacea” builds slowly. Its opening is gentle and gives the feeling of floating. But as on “Abismos”, the band quickly turn to distortion. The band incorporate some post-rock influences in the form of big, strummed riffs between their frequent jazzy explorations. Those explorations do lose their focus near the song’s end, but by this point we’ve already had seven-plus minutes of solid performance. Post-rock touches can also be heard on “Oda a la Memoria”, which is slower-moving and more atmospheric than most of the rest of the album.
The album-closing “Leviatán” is befitting of its name. It begins on a storming riff that soon segues into an abyssal doom metal theme. The echo on the vocals here effectively adds to the weightiness of the song. A long, murky guitar solo follows; the lead guitar feels trapped beneath the weight of the backing riff. As the song enters its second half, though, the tempo shifts upward, and the bassist gets an opportunity to shine with a brief solo.
Aridonia isn’t without its flaws. As with many other acts, this album could have benefitted from some tightening-up. Tracks like “La Serpiente y la Manzana” and “Oda a la Memoria” last for a minute or two longer than they should. Solos can also feel drawn out, even on standout tracks like “Leviatán”. The vocals are rough on this record, but that’s only a minor ding against the band. They make that ragged shouting work most of the time.
Aridonia have crafted a respectable debut record. The instrumentals are flashy but not overbearingly so, and the ways songs evolve keep you invested in the music. This quartet have managed to bridge stoner and prog better than most acts, and I think if they fine-tune their focus some more, we can expect them to make something spectacular in the future.