Bauda has its origins in Chile, and was first introduced to the larger musical world by their appearance on the phenomenal Whom the Moon a Nightsong Sings compilation. This acoustic piece hardly revealed what they were to become, and even the debut album remained an instrumental affair. It was not until the second album, Euphoria…of Flesh, Men and the Great Escape, that they began to resemble what they are today. As the band founder, César Márquez, added member after member and layer after layer, Bauda has slowly discovered its full capabilities. Today, Bauda is a full band, with a sound that is just as full and massive in approach as its membership implies. Taking in all its beauty, talent, and passion is quite the ordeal. This is progressive rock with heavier elements that borrows a little from here and there, creating a sound that—to risk using a horrible cliche—is reminiscent of many bands yet remains all their own.
An album such as this is a heavy burden with all of its positive connotations, reaching to the stars and beyond with a sound that is unique yet oddly familiar. This music is meant to carry you away in a similar sense to the favorite nostalgic bands from your youth, with massive choruses that will have you passionately singing along. It’s the kind of album that can take you over completely, as you get lost in the powerful soaring vocals and music that is heavy from emotion, even more so than the riffs that lift them. With aspects from vintage progressive rock to bands such as Opeth, Antimatter, Porcupine Tree, and the Gathering, which makes sense as René Rutten produced this album, Bauda has a wide appeal to all of those who appreciate a solid rock formula alongside incredible musicianship.
A psychedelic breakdown happens in the very middle of the first track, “Aurora,” which has remnants reprising throughout the rest of the album. At moments the sound crashes like the break of a wave into heaviness that has less to do with riffs and more to do with an impactful sound, with a bass so deep it shoves you forward before returning to steady beats. Synth work in songs like “Tectonic Cells” keep things interesting, while the guitar performance makes it easy to get lost and drift away. “War” slows things down a bit, falling close to a ballad-like tempo with its hypnotic guitar tones. The vocals are full of life, spilling over the proverbial rim of the cup and drowning us all in emotive elements. A couple of minutes in, and the pace somewhat picks up, creating a sound that can only be described as equally epic and majestic. The song Sporelights ends with is a dreamy ambient composition that exemplifies the atmospheric aspect of the band. It is this, combined with soaring vocals and riffs that are heavy with emotion, that creates the full sound of Bauda.
Creating a full sound that is multi-layered, the keyboardist not only creates atmosphere but always keeps things evolving. The drummer rarely rests with a simple pattern, instead opting for complex rhythms. Sporelights has all of the traditional elements of progressive metal in place, focusing specifically on developing high-quality musicianship that is often difficult to find.
The songs build well against each other, with everything fitting together seamlessly into a complete album. Sporelights contains a ton of crescendos among its peaks and valleys. What I find particularly interesting is that these members all have a strong interest in more extreme forms of metal. I have always felt that some of the best music to exist comes from metal musicians who have gone out of their way to create something a bit more focused on melody and clean vocals, as bands like Green Carnation, Katatonia and Anathema are evidence of.
My one major complaint is that, at times, the vocals are so good that they become overwhelming. I understand that Màrquez wants to showcase his immense talents, but this can quickly lead to feeling burnt out. It is the very lows this band can create that make the highs so enjoyable, but after a moment when the vocals do not recede, it becomes tempting to skip ahead. “War” is the best example of this on Sporelights, as the tension simply never gives way to what should have been an inevitable climax. A strong songwriter knows when to pull back and when to let it all out. Even with three albums under their belt, Bauda is still a young band, and this is only the second album with vocals. I have little doubt that the next album will be even stronger, and that, in time, the name of Bauda will be mentioned alongside all the aforementioned greats of the genre.
05) Tectonic Cells
06) Asleep in Layers
07) Dawn of Ages