Almost immediately after his debut solo album Jalamanta, Brant Bjork was back with another new project and album. Ché, featuring former Queens of the Stone Age drummer Alfredo Hernández, and Unida bassist Dave Dinsmore, only made one album. But it is indeed the Sound of Liberation.
“It’s the Ayatollah of Rocka Rolla baby!” Seven songs, 35 minutes. Brant Bjork on guitar leads off “Hydraulicks” with a sharp, stabbing riff. The laid back vibe of Jalamanta is gone, though its emphasis on repeating simple riffs is put to good use here. A few vocal and guitar overdubs add some brilliant depth to a pretty raw, live-sounding recording.
“Stabbing” is another good adjective to describe the second track, “The Knife”. Or perhaps hammering, as this song doesn’t let up. The chorus is but a brief reprieve from the relentless rhythm. “We can break the knife, so it won’t cut you, never cut you…” But the instrumental “Pray For Rock” has a completely different vibe, a slow Sabbathy one with a Ward-like drum patter. Then it suddenly goes full U2, if U2 were a stoner rock band from the desert.
The title track “Sounds of Liberation” enters. The main three-note riff has some heft! Solid track followed by another solid track, “Adelante”. Hard hitting, choppy, aggressive. Gets the point across. Awesome drums by Alfredo Hernández. But it’s the second-last track “Blue Demon” that really impresses, as a late-album highlight. “Pick a room, man, ’cause they’re all the same,” sings Brant. The riff has a certain electric aura, and the song just grooves. It’s an ode to living free.
The final track is another instrumental, “The Day the Pirate Retired”. The focus is on the riff, bristling with electric energy. The band really jams here, with the fluid bass providing unexpected smoothness.
The CD packaging is interesting, with the front cover artwork on the back tray, and the back covert artwork on the front. Kind of confusing when you see one on the CD shelves for the first time.