Under Review

basic instinct

Basic Instinct


Aly Laube

If you’re a fan of getting lost in sludgy, wall-of-sound metal, Basic Instinct’s debut album is for you. At least, that’s the impression that Equinox gives with its opening track, a five-and-a-half minute-long epic that starts softly and arcs into a classic doom-and-gloomy riff that feels like it’s reaching a climax but fails to fully satisfy.

Such is the impression left by many songs on the record. Basic Instinct is good at doing what they do best: delivering dark, unfussy, slightly melodramatic heaviness. This is their strength, and it comes through on Equinox, but when it comes to devising creative songs that keep you engaged from start to finish, there’s still much to be desired.  

The most impressive moments on Equinox come when the band successfully uses both softness and sludginess to their advantage. The abrasiveness of the front woman’s growl adds a power to the refrain in “Sleep” that sets it apart from the other five items on the tracklist, and when she sings softly and sweetly to the hypnotic “Turn”, Basic Instinct gives listeners a break after the first two, very in-your-face songs on Equinox. The same goes for the beginning of the closing track, the relaxed but still grim “Saturn Returns.” Here, Basic Instinct displays delicacy and vulnerability in a collection that’s often exorbitantly heavy.

The second song is the title track, and of all of them, I can’t help but wonder why the band chose this one to represent the EP. With its muddy guitars and predictable progression,  it is easily the most generic piece on Equinox, offering no more and no less than what you might expect from a local metal group. Others on the record seem to be made with much more attention to structure and style, and these are the numbers that will keep Equinox fresh after a handful of listens.

Although a few songs on the record barely escape being labelled near-Metallica tributes, Basic Instinct remains original with its front woman’s monotone, shouty vocals. For its vocalist, moments of individuality, and dynamic, smooth production, Equinox is worth at least one play through.

As far as Vancouver’s metal scene goes, comprised principally of four guys head-banging and screaming with their hands cupped around the microphone, Basic Instinct sticks out in a favourably. Assuming that the two-piece is still pinning down where its talents lie—which, in my opinion, is in experimenting with variety when writing both vocals and instrumentation—it’s an exciting and promising start.  


Ben Bradley

British Columbia by the Road

Mark Budd

In 1871, the Confederation of Canada amalgamated its seventh province. British Columbia — unceded indigenous territory of coastal and mountainous regions — joined Canada East to the Pacific Ocean. A train linked the regions by 1885. It wasn’t until 1904 when the automobile began to gain traction for conventional locomotion in British Columbia. There was a simultaneous need and political push for roadway development with the increase in automobility.

Ben Bradley focuses the historical lens of British Columbia by the Road on the process of roadway development in the province. We learn about “recreational democracy” and the decisions of Fordist states. We observe challenges surrounding the development decisions. The agriculturalist, industrialist, economist and naturalist concerns are presented fluently. There is a brief mention of the poor treatment of interned Japanese-Canadian men, with an endnote that directs the reader to three supplemental resources.

Bradley separates the study with two routes. Route A presents a discussion on “perceptions of nature.” Route B presents “heritage tourism” during the interwar years. The presentation method is effective in presenting the non-linear political decisions in understandable context.

The book is a historical view of British Columbia’s landscape as it changed with the motorways that now line the coasts, crests and valleys. Bradley acknowledges the complexity of automobility and how it “embodies many contradictions and has wide-ranging and often unintended consequences.” British Columbia by the Road has value as a guide to the politics of public construction. Inspiration may be drawn from understanding the cyclical decisions and consequences resulting from political direction.