REVIEW: Laguaria – ‘Bonkers’

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Metalcore band Laguaria out of West Orange, New Jersey released their debut EP “Bonkers” on January 15th after successfully crowd funding via Indiegogo. The five song EP features a blend of heavy and electronic influences while presenting listeners with a myriad of ways to see the direction the band has taken.

The EP kicks off with the rhythmic and spirited opener “The Cats out of The Bag Now!”. While the drumming from Mike Morales is tight and crisp, and vocalist Nick Toscano is channeling a mix of Austin Carlile and Alex Koehler with his aggressive and piercing screams, I found the singing from guitarist Alexander Rodriguez during the chorus to be the biggest flaw of this song. The guitar work itself is on par and creates a suitable atmosphere for the vocals to be as enjoyable as they are, I found the singer to monotone. There was little animation in his voice, which hindered the song a bit.

The momentum rolls onward with following track “Till I Bend and Break” and Laguaria comes out of the gate swinging. Beginning with a thundering growl vocalist Nick Toscano exclaims “I won’t be fooled again”. The emotive tone of his voice gives the song a smash-mouth and ferocious edge from the start. By the time the song progresses to the halfway point it seems that guitarist Alexander Rodriguez is determined to prove me wrong about his vocal ability. The combination of Toscano and Rodriguez is one that sounds as good as vocalist tandem in metalcore today. Reminding me something of Austin Carlile and Shayley Bourget from about 5 years ago.

The highlight of this album comes in the form of the aptly titled track “The Pirate Song”. I recall when Crown The Empire coined the term “circuscore” so it does not seem too far-fetched for Laguaria to coin “piratecore”. This song is reminiscent of Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphy’s but heavier, edgier, and with pirate themed lyrics. The vocal work is all around terrific. Nasty breakdowns lead to more than a few mosh-worthy moments, with the party atmosphere being very prevalent here.

Laguaria should feel proud of themselves for this release. The dynamic vocal work between Nick Toscano and Alexander Rodriguez gives this EP life. The distinct and unorthodox instrumentation, most notably the drumming of Mike Morales, utilized throughout goes a long way toward the creation of their signature sound. While there were minor issues in certain spots with tracks not feeling as sonically full as they could have, possibly an issue on the production aspect of things – the potential for these guys is literally bonkers.