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Album Reviews : Branch Arterial – Beyond the Border

By on April 26, 2017

Firstly, and without going into great detail, this Melbourne five-piece has gone through tremendous personal hardship over the last few years. The fact that they have managed to finish their debut at all is worthy of much kudos. That Beyond the Border is a superb slab of heavy, ultra-catchy progressive alternative rock is simply astounding, and they are to be congratulated for such an achievement.

This is what I would deem to be a ‘bookend’ album, that is, a record where the opener and the closer are the strongest tracks. Waste Away is a great choice as track one, it gives a tremendous first impression with its instrumental dynamism, the contrasting juxtaposition of frenetic playing and pulled-back atmospherics and insanely memorable vocals.

Closer Where Are you Now soars to the very heavens and stays with you for long moments after the final strains of the song and the album have faded away, just as a great closer should.

However, whilst these two tracks are standouts, the musical journey that this record takes you on between those bookends is an extraordinary one too. There are no weak tracks here, indeed, there is nary a weak moment on this record. Second track and second single My Curse is both driving and full of tremendous forward momentum, and grandiose all at once, Circus is hooky as hell and the title track is a strange but beautiful mid-album ambient interlude with subtle electronica and sweet three-way vocals (including female) running through it.

Fabulous performances abound, both on individual instruments and behind the mixing desk. The album was partly self-produced, by bassist Kade Turner and lead guitarist Jason Worthy who worked closely with producer Julian Meyer, and they’ve done a fabulous job of bringing out the clarity and power of the tunes. Mention must go to drummer Adam Zaffarese, which playing is slick, dexterous and powerful, and to frontman Nigel Jackson, who has produced a magnificent, exuberant vocal performance in the face of fighting a life-threatening illness.

The future of this band, as a going concern and a touring act, is a little hazy at this point, due to the aforementioned adversity that they have faced in recent times. But whatever happens (or doesn’t happen), we still have their awesome EP Voices Unknown from a few years back and now this exquisite piece of work to enjoy, and for that we must be thankful.

Band: Branch Arterial
Album: Beyond the Border
Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive rock
Label: Independent
Origin: Australia


Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.