There are many international languages, but the big three in my mind are math, love, and music. The first two are generally mutually exclusive, except for people who say “I love math!” The latter almost always go hand in hand. Drop the language down to one of the romance language, and music and love are almost always synonymous. Mention “Spanish” and “music,” and fairly or unfairly, sappy love songs are the first thing to come to mind.
Big Bang changes that. The quartet from Badalona (a small city outside of Barcelona, Spain) tears into the hard rock music scene with their debut LP, Sin Renuncia A La Esperanza (Hope not given up). The band has spent the last decade cultivating their sound, with roots deeply entrenched in the hard rock sound of the late 90s and early 2000s. Influences such as Korn and Incubus rear their head in each song, with filthy guitar riffs that are matched note for note by rumbling bass.
It could be easy to dismiss the album as another band trying to enter the foray of hard rock, but there is plenty that sets Big Bang apart from other groups. Their music has depth and talent that comes from wanting to create a piece of music that will last. While there are plenty of distorted power chords and plenty of shouting “oh baby,” there is so much else going on. Francisco Rubiales throws in plenty of bluesy guitar solos and a wailing introduction to “Sineto el dolor.” Rafa Caamaño employs some slap-bass and bubbly fills to keep the bass play fresh. Manuel Rubiales’ vocals are the perfect mix for hard rock: soulful, on key singing which is robust enough to match the music and does not overpower the other members with unnecessary screaming. Siscu Carrasco’s drumming keeps everything tight and even throws in some tribal percussion in “No fue por error.” There is even a speech by Barack Obama in “Esclavo.” While many in the United States are disenchanted with the president’s latest round of politicking, it does add a great punch to the song. These are rock n’ roll professionals; and they are getting the job done.
Each song is sung in Spanish, but that should not deter people unfamiliar with the language from enjoying Big Bang. No one cared that the industrial band Rammstein sang songs with homoerotic undertones in German; they just thought Lindemann’s deep vocals were great. Most Pearl Jam fans love the song “Yellow Ledbetter” but can’t understand a single lyric Eddie Vedder croons, and he’s singing in English; we just love the song.
Sin Renuncia A La Esperanza is a solid piece of hard rock fare that even the most judicious of fans can enjoy. Their influences are noticeable, but not overwhelming. And their style of rock is nothing if not universal.
Track Listing (And Rough Translation)
1. Oir y callar (Hear and be silent)
2. Fiel (Faithful)
3. En calma (In calm)
4. Hay suenos (There are dreams)
5. La espiral (The spiral)
6. No fue por error (It was not by mistake)
7. Dime (Tell me)
8. Esclavo (Slave)
9. Siento el dolor (I feel the pain)
10. Sin rencor (Without resentment)