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Balothizer: Listen exclusively their new album, Cretan Smash

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We are excited to offer an exclusive first listen of Balothizer's new album, "Cretan Smash", which is being released digitally and in vinyl tomorrow. Balothizer take their mixture of traditional Cretan melodies and lyrics with metal riffs in lute one step further with this record. Short and explosive, it makes their upcoming concerts a great thing to fantasize. Until then, read below what Balothizer say about their new album and you can enjoy them on your headphones or speakers right below.

Balothizer on Cretan Smash’s conception:
The new album is a collection of what we believe to be noteworthy Cretan folk songs, either for their melodies, historic and regional idioms, potent lyrics, rhythms, patterns or dances. There are a lot of differences from the first album though. Instead of the traditional sound of the acoustic Cretan lute, we’re using an electric lute (constructed by Ozan Özdemir - an Izmir-based luthist known for constructing electric folk instruments), giving a more psychedelic and heavier sound. This had a knock-on effect on the rest of the musicians, which is why we end up using a double drum pedal, heavier bass distortions, more screams, and references to late-70s through early-90s metal. We’re also using more freedom with the traditional melody forms. Plus, the collaborations on the album really steer Cretan Smash into a whole new environment. 

Greg’s placed the tracks into a harsh and intensely deep and spacious soundscape, and Stratis Skarakis - one of the most significant traditional Cretan violinists, and a native of the island - ornaments the tracks "Jegaman" and ‘Anathema’ with musical characteristics from his village in Kissamos. As soon as we heard the album, "Cretan Smash" seemed the most appropriate title.

Press Release

Balothizer, the punk rockers who's following dubbed their sound as ‘Cretan music from Hell’, return with a second album - this time with an even heavier dose of cutthroat punk rebelliousness. Cretan Smash is a whole new level of unabashed Cretan spirit: grittier arrangements of the Greek island’s already fiery folk music performed with a raw, jackhammering intensity - all mixed by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier. The result is something that sounds like a coupling of Psarantonis and a 1980s punk gathering in a grimy basement full of moshing weirdos. 

Rewind to August 2018: Soundcheck at Fengaros Festival, Cyprus. Balothizer were promoting their songs for their December 2018 debut album Cretan Music From Hell. Balothizer’s punk ethos and sandwich melt concoction of thrash metal splotched with acid-blotted Cretan folk music immediately caught the attention of Greg Saunier, the drummer of indie institution Deerhoof. Saunier later approached the band and offered to mix what was to be Balothizer’s subsequent album - Cretan Smash. 

Prior to the 13 November album release, Balothizer are sharing single ‘Ponente & Levante’ on 9 October, which Balothizer explains as a medieval song about a lonely knight travelling from west to east and befriended only by his sword and money-pouch - a timeless message about the horrors of materialistic-driven societies and politics. ‘Jegaman’ is Balothizer’s second single, out on 23 October, which is a blend of two tunes authored by a Cretan fisherman known as “Jegas” who arrived on the island from Peloponnesus and, although not a native, loved Crete’s music so much that he ended up writing some of the island’s most legendary songs. Balothizer draw special attention to the track ‘Aleppo’. The lyrics are from a folk song adored in Crete, known as ‘Halepianos Manes’ (translating to “Aleppian Melody”). The song’s melody is a folk tune, which - like countless cultural arts and traditions from the area - is shared across the region from modern-day Greece to modern-day Syria. The track presents the shared use of the folk dance tune, known as ‘Qadukka Al Mayyas’ in Arabic, ‘Ada Sahilleri’ in Turkish, and ‘Matia Mu/ San Pas ta Xena’ in Greek.

So who are Balothizer? Balothizer’s members each have an intense passion for Crete’s music and the shared ethos of the island’s people, with their long-standing history of constant rebellion against centuries of conquerors, their triumph over invasive fascists, their traditions of reciting Cretan musical poetry with so much spirit by colouring melodies with stoutly vocals and ornamental inflections, and the sheer punk essence exuding from their percussive strumming of the Cretan lute. 

Balothizer’s formation is an alignment of stars between time and place. The band’s beginnings lie in London just as the metropolitan city was going through a jazz and ‘world music’ renaissance, with bands and promoters embracing electronic and jazz music mixed with traditions from beyond the western European world. Simultaneously, the Greek rock phenomenon was hitting the European and especially Balkan underground - it’s no surprise that Balothizer’s Greek-language, folk-meets-metal was conceived. Live, the band is combustion on stage and have played at venues in Greece, the UK, Malta, Italy, Cyprus and Germany.