By Gruesome Greg
Full-length effort number three from the hardest-working, heaviest-touring sludge metal band going nowadays, though I missed ’em their last time through Toronto… (I was catching up on some Sleep, heh heh heh…)
Within the first few tracks, it’s immediately apparent that the band has moved away from the dirty, blackened sludge of Dog Magic and their debut EP, expanding on the spacey direction they explored on Voice of Saturn. Opening track “D.N.R.” sounds strangely foreign, as the black metal screams give way to a monotone, throaty murmur, which is to reappear on subsequent efforts such as “Odyssey.” The band seems to be less sludge at this point and more heavy psych, less Sleep and more Secret Saucer.
On the occasions when Brent Anderson’s tortured screams do make an appearance, the sound is thinner with less bass, sounding less like a
Billy Anderson production and more like early Black Sabbath with black metal vocals. Case in point: “Ancient Ones.” On the other hand, a tune like “Firewater” sounds like Hawkwind’s FX board over Earthless’ rhythm section and “Old World” is more like OM with more guitar.
While this is a pretty decent record in its own right, I’m somewhat saddened that Zoroaster has moved away from its own unique take on southern sludge towards a sound that can be filed next to Farflung, The Atlas Moth, and countless other bands. But as long as “Tualatin” remains in their live set, I’ll be sure to see ’em next time they come through town—provided that I’m not in L.A. for a one-off Kyuss reunion or something of that nature.