Monday, 22nd January 2018. 9:06:56pm ET
Artist: Broken
CD Title: Haoma
Label: Guru Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 6/6/05

Specializing in moody, intricate, theatrical yet radio-friendly alternative rock, Broken, a 5-piece based in Merrick, New York, shine on Haoma. With 5 in-studio live performances and 6 traditional studio tracks, Haoma spans two years of recording sessions, presented here in reverse chronological order. Carried by the sometimes Maynard Keenan-esque timbre and delivery of vocalist Nick Barounis, the band (also often sporting an obvious and somewhat prominent Tool musical influence), takes the shape of a bass, drum, and two-guitar lineup, occasionally abandoning the typical rhythm/lead formation to intertwine lead melodies and atmospherics. Fans of...say...Tool and Dredg will likely find the band's sprawling epic song structures and sound, or at least many elements of it, quite familiar and worthwhile, while others will find that the disc also sports plenty of mainstream alt rock appeal.

The 5 in-studio live tracks that open the disc are spectacular, rivaling most bands' more traditional studio recordings and proving Broken to be an impressively tight live outfit. Whether rocking out on ever-evolving epics like "Septem" or "The Novice" or delivering moody rock dirges like "Interlude", the band's performances and combined atmospherics are impeccable. In fact, the production, songwriting, and performances found on disc's first 5 tracks far outshine the earlier studio recordings that make up its remainder.

Compared to the more recent tracks, the band's older material, while still very good, is a bit more straightforward and somewhat less interesting from a songwriting standpoint. "Phal", in particular, is an impressive bass-driven rocker with strong guitar work, while "Hyacinth" is a strong epic closer that, perhaps, foreshadows the band's later work. However, as a whole, the second half of the disc, while certainly far from mediocre, paints a more mainstream picture, the band seemingly still developing their voice.

Overall, Broken's Haoma is an easily accessible yet also extremely deep rock outing rife with both emotion and energy. Granted, putting the band's more mature and impressive material first and presenting the album in reverse chronological order may have been a bad decision, perhaps highlighting the flaws of their strong but relatively less spectacular early material while also causing the album to sound more like 3 EPs on one disc than a cohesive full-length. Still, everything here is rather impressive, and the first 5 tracks alone are certainly worth the admission price.

 

Broken website: www.brokenband.com

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