(Warners)

Herald rating: * * * * *

Review: Russell Baillie

The reason we put these relative unknowns on the cover was hearing this, seeing them live and hearing this again. As a debut album it's not only a giant leap forward from the band's initial offerings which suggested they'd been sharing more than practice rooms with fellow Wellingtonian-Melbournians Shihad.

Evidently, they've worked through that particular influence and developed into something quite special - a contemporary hard rock outfit with a flair for melody, dynamics, atmosphere and deeply thrilling moments.

There's one of those when current single Calling On hits the overdrive at its three-minute mark. And when, after the extended gentle guitar textures of its opening, If I Will is sideswiped by a chorus which sounds like Supergrass playing an AC/DC song which, of course, is a very good thing.

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There are some vibrant songs that exist without the need of fireworks, like the folk-rock Sleep, the acoustic-powered Sweet Surrender and ballad Conversations, which frame singer-guitarist Aaron Tokona's distinctive, supple, occasionally Jeff Buckley-like vocals.

He can sure holler too, best experienced on the frenetic rhythm'n'punk of Snapshot (a ball of energy recalling, er Rocket From The Crypt playing an AC/DC song and a Bob Marley song which, of course, is a very, very good thing).

We could go on. But let's just say Geographica burns bright throughout without a duff track, and while it rocks it doesn't lack for musical ambition either.

It's the best rock album with a New Zealand passport you will hear this year. And in years to come Weta may get sick of hearing this phrase: "their classic debut."