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Cojones - Bend to Transcend

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Cojones is a vulgar Spanish word for testicles. It's also used to describe courage, the same way we say someone 'has balls' in English. Chances are slim the members of the band Cojones use the term 'cojones' regularly in their culture, as this act is from Zagreb, Croatia, which is not exactly a region with a large Hispanic culture.

Much of the group's sound is stoner rock, with traces of Soundgarden and Queens Of The Stone Age running through these sludgy, hard rock songs. This album's best song is one that diverts away from slower and heavier music, however, and "Hey Baby" veers closer to bluesy gospel sounds. "Hey baby, don't you want me?/Hey baby, don't you care?" they sing over a handclap groove. On it, Bojan Kocijan sings a little like Anthony Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon. Who knew a band from Croatia could sound so much like an act from Nashville, Tennessee? Well, this one song alone will disprove all doubters.

While it's tempting to assume Cojones only plays primitive rock & roll -- along the lines of, say, musical cavemen -- the track "As Far As It Goes," goes much further than mere simplistic pounding grooves. In fact, this piece goes into an extended electric guitar section that brings nothing, if not progressive rock jams, to mind.

Lyrically, these 8 songs are intelligent, if not exactly deep. For instance, "Indika" features Kocijan scat singing in some places, and screaming animalistic-ly in other spots. The words appear to be geared to match the grooves, instead of instances of music that have been created around specific lyrical ideas.

Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, you probably also shouldn't prejudge a rock act by its origin. Cojones is a group that you would never guess its ethnic roots, simply from examining the sound of its recordings.

For most diehard rock fans, rock & roll is all about the electric guitar. Sure, there are other instruments involved, but when was the last time you sat down at the videogame console and played synth hero? Never, probably. Cojones is -- all other considerations aside -- a guitar band and Bend to Transcend is filled with electric guitar strings, bent to transcend the drudgery of everyday life. Therefore, if you're in the mood for the sound of electric guitars turned up to 11, with the raw power of a gutsy singer singing and screaming over that beautiful noise, Cojones, indeed, has the cojones to make real rock & roll happen.

It's also worth noting that Cojones proves once again how rock music is truly an international form. It's a Croatian band, with a Spanish slang name, playing sounds that could just as easily have come out of the clubs of Seattle in the 90s. How much more nation-spanning is that?

Laying claim to international credentials is cool and all, but it would be little more than worthless boasting if the music wasn't also fantastic. This album rocks hard, and puts a lot of wimpy bands (are you reading this, Nickelback?) to shame. Therefore, for those that rock, namely Cojones, we salute you!

Cojones - Bend to Transcend
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