Their inaugural studio album — a new level of energy and the same rock sound — blares from the drums, guitar and vocals of Bandolier’s Negative Space.
The 11-track album was released June 26 and recorded earlier that month in a whirlwind three days.
The first day at Alchemy Studios in Calgary, frontman Mark Ferguson, Brett Halland on bass guitar and Ian Ferguson a.k.a. Johnny Handsome on drums, played the selected songs for eight hours straight. Day two was mainly over dubs and the final day was a gruelling 10 hours.
“After being there and doing that for three days you realize how unrealistic it is to make an album in three days,” said Mark Ferguson.
Despite the tight timeline there’s nothing cut or sloppy on the album.
For those who take the time to push past each song’s rollicking sounds of heavy drums and prominent guitar riffs, they’ll find a heartbreaker album full of pain, regret and guilt.
However, Bandolier has created no emotionally draining tearjerker. Instead they’ve produced a rock and roll rollercoaster ride. The lyrical lows are low but for balance the instrumental highs and soaring voice of Ferguson are just as high.
Negative Space opens with Burn Me Away. The firecracker song pushes the listener onto the album right away and surrounds them with the band’s raw sound and favoured heavy drum and guitar sounds.
Burn Me Away sets the re-occurring theme of the album: relationships and heartbreak — the other side of the same coin. But, like with the songs successors, listeners won’t be left saddened by the message thanks to a pumped up kick beat and Ferguson’s talented voice, which climbs higher to help lift each song.
The following song, What You Are, immediately lightens the album’s opening lyrical mood. The fast-paced love song lowers the drum’s bite and picks up the guitar riffs to give it more of a party rock vibe.
However, What You Are stays true to the band’s raw sound and provides a fresher outlook on the tired idea of a love song, mostly through its realistic message of looking past a person’s flaws and still loving them without the rose-coloured glasses.
The body of the album is made up of Bandolier’s trademark heavier rock songs and follows the previously set theme of tarnished and broken love, mixed with a little death, the rocky road to fame in a society bred with a short attention span and the oppression of civilization.
Despite their young age and overused lyrical subjects, Bandolier keeps its songs fresh and audience hooked with new and mature perspectives on once-tired ideas.
This Is Love is by far the album’s gentlest song, a straightforward soft rock ballad. Unlike many of the other tracks the lyrics take the front seat alone rather than riding with louder, harder instruments.
While the simplest sounding song Bandolier states it as one of the most vocally complex. Ferguson, however shows off the band’s tender side with ease.
Negative Space finishes with its most haunting track and a personal favorite.
The Dog’s Fighter tells the heroic tale of Sgt. Charles Waldern, a young Spitfire pilot who was born in Ponoka and died during the Second World War.
The song combines many different sounds, from a rock-twang and drum opening lamenting the sorrows of war to the harrowing candlelight vigil last cords of remembrance.
Ferguson and his bandmates knew they had only a short time to achieve perfection and the studio experience was different then they envisioned. “I think we were just expecting it would be a lot simpler,” said Ferguson.
“Once you get down that track and are consistently expanding on what you’ve done, you can go on forever,” he added.
Ferguson says each time the band played a song there always seemed to be something they could improve upon and just when they thought they’d achieved perfection they were told to play it again.
“It was all for the better, it just shows the better side of the song.”
Negative Space is available at the Ponoka Bookstore and online www.bandoliermusic.ca. The album will also soon be available on iTunes.