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The Illuminati - On Borrowed Time Review

by Travis Becker

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The Illuminati didn't kill Kennedy. Despite the curious implications of their name, even Oliver Stone didn't plan for this in the grassy knoll. Shadowy societies and world politics aside, On Borrowed Time, the new album from the aforementioned Illuminati, takes heavy music to new and exciting places. For an old theory that's as well traveled as Rock and Roll, that's something. Blending melody and heavy riffs like the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations with the urgency of Punk and the abstract elements of post-hardcore, the Illuminati live up to their world-controlling name and deliver an album that is at once musical and mind-expanding all within the much vaunted power-trio format.

At first listen, the band hover somewhere around the big-riffed, and lately retro-fitted, sound of so-called Stoner Rock. At once though, something seems amiss. The songs clock in mostly under three minutes, giving the pacing a Punk feel. The album is over before you know it and before you want it to be. So many elements and themes compete within the scope of this record, it's staggering. On Borrowed Time runneth over with guitar solos and full speed rockers but also takes its time to expand upon musical themes. Southern Rock makes an appearance and some of the weird off-time, Clutch-like, bizzarro-Rock turns up as well. Jazz timing rears it's lofty head as well and you get the feeling that these guys listen to as much Brubeck as they do retro-Seventies Metal, as evidenced by the song "Sir Lord Bruceck," which clocks in at an epic 4:54.

From "Black Russian Blues" to the title track, to "The Jericho Mile", the Illuminati are all over the map, but everywhere they take the music feels like home. The choruses have staying power to burn, and the long instrumental passages (as long as feels comfortable in the three-minute time frame) provide the listener with ample time to stretch out the mind and listen. There may not be a more accurate way to sum this record up than to say that it's extremely musical. Sounds like a cop-out, but honestly you're getting more playing and compositional skill in this set of songs than on most any heavy rock album out there.

What some progressive bands take fifteen minutes to do, the Illuminati have already done in three minutes and played five more songs to boot. Maybe it's some sort of secret society brainwashing, but there's just something about this album that makes you want to listen to it over and over. It could also be that's it's exceptionally good. If you listen hard enough you can pull an influence out if it from almost any band from Judas Priest to Joe Walsh. The fuzzed-out "Steal Yer' Thunder" with its fried sound and hilarious chorus of, "Stalking you, it's such a dr.dr.dr.dr.drag," steals the show near the end of the record.

On Borrowed Time adds up to the best record that's come out of anywhere this year. Although fellow Canadians, Sheavy, give the Illuminati a run for their money, ultimately the world-influence notion puts them over the top. Fearless and damn well-done, this record represents what music should be. Inventive and blistering, sonically and in terms of song-writing, On Borrowed Time slays. That's no conspiracy theory and I don't need a magic bullet to prove it, just this record.


CD Info and Links

The Illuminati - On Borrowed Time

Label:Liquor & Poker
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