(Under The Gun)

Zagreb, Croatia may sound like unusual headquarters for a hard rock band, but if Cojones are any indication of what the capital has to offer in the way music, the Republic of Croatia may just have some real talent that we’re unfamiliar with here stateside.

Cojones’ newest album, Bend To Transcend, has the balls that their name might suggest, with a driven heavy “stoner” rock and roll sound reminiscent of bands like Red Fang, Orange Goblin, and popular 90s band, Kyuss.

 

The effort opens strongly with “Have To Run;” beginning with nearly 30 seconds of rhythmic guitar work and solid drumming before Bojan Kocijan’s vocals are introduced, forming a perfect marriage with the instrumentation. For fans of radio-friendly rock music, this opener may likely be the most accessible track to your liking.

Standout track, “Sacred Fire,” is the fiercest offering on the album. It contains the heaviest opening of any on Bend and if you’re looking for something as close to the aforementioned bands like Red Fang as you can get, this is it. “Sacred Fire” will get you amped. It never lets up. To take a slight breather from that ferocity, the fifth song, “Tide,” has a very fitting name. It opens calmly with scratchy strings and an ominous Deftones-esque vibe but has plenty of time to build level by level into heavier moments with shredding guitars as it is the longest track on Bend To Transcend, breaking seven-and-a-half minutes.

The album has a great flow until the sixth track speedbump. “Hey Baby” seems out of place, and while it isn’t a bad song per se, it resembles something more of a weaker effort from a dive bar jam band with no true direction as opposed to the promising talent that is evident in these other tracks. It’s ultimately forgettable once moving on to the following track, “As Far As It Goes,” which may show the most promise from the band in what they have to offer in different styles of the genre. It’s heavy, it grooves, it calms. It does it all. It’s arresting. After that lengthy endeavor, we come to the closer, “Indika,” which much like “Hey Baby” feels unfitting and isn’t the best note to end on. Omit those two afflicting tracks and you have a great, solid EP with uninterrupted flow.

With Bend To Transcend, the Cojones quartet sound to be just shy of where they want to be, or are capable of being, as a band. I would imagine that with just a tad bit more focus on consistency and an extra dash of their name on the next effort, these rockers will be sitting comfortably where they ought to be in the rock and roll ranks.