Sit down for this one. Not recommended while driving operating heavy machinery. Such is the density and gravitational pull of this hugely complex and technical release of Zealotry’s latest, At The Nexus Of Stillborn Worlds.
Wasting no time, the title track cracks open with Alex Zalatan’s incredulous blasting along some frantic upper-neck fret permutations of guitarists Phil Tougas and Jake Himelfarb. The throaty roars, growls burps of R. M. Temin (Chtheílist) help lend the album’s disgustingly well-done sense ofwarped technical barbarism, and Aodan Collins provides a relentlessly tricky and meandering bass armada throughout.
With dissonant leads and bass soloing trills, the track allows a crack of melody to creep in then rips into a classic-metal solo with an estranged, Mithras-style reverb-heavy twist. Operatic chants at the end of the song add an off-putting cake-topper to an already nauseously great affair.
And, with little fanfare Accursed is a simple piano and synth interlude that just sort of harmlessly floats past, albeit with a Lovecraftian horror touch. Erm, OK then. This is weird.
And it only gets weirder. Named after the Greek god of oblivion and concealment, Lethe’s Shroud launches back into to a distended mix of clanging bass, rolling drums and harmonic-punctured riffs over larger-than-life growls. Eschewing much sense of traditional verse-bridge-chorus, as with the others, this track feels more an endless web of trickery.
This album is already sonically a multi-tentacled space horror but, like creatures beyond our comprehension, all we can do is to stare and listen, transfixed.
Take Primus Venatoris, for example. With forlorn melodic leads a-la early Dark Tranquillity, there’s also jazzy shuffling drums and confused bends and leads, giving a sickly-sweet contrast of dissonance and resolution. Labyrinthine passages lead you through tight but furious intricacy. Everyone is flying off the handle. You’ll hear this during the tapping-flecked creepy soloing, the playfully exploratory bass and drums. In fact, the only constant in the mix is the perpetually gruff death growls and roars. Epic synth and orchestral arrangements and a bass solo truly throw the latter end of this song out of whack, in a good way.
The Hole similarly opens widely with a super-bluesy riff that could easily be lifted off from the classic rock era, feeling almost queasily juxtaposed against a bunch of minor chords, oddly shuffling rhythm and relatively doom-paced (for this album,anyway) sluggish roaring vocals. The mid-paced slumber kicks in around the two-minute mark, a clunky distorted bass solo riff followed by an almost distressingly warbling, off-key soft padded synth.
Before we have time to scratch our heads, however, the riff speeds into oblivion, blasts and tremolo at full pace. The aural giddiness and tightness demonstrate that this is clearly an album you’ll need to flog regularly, just to get a bearing on it’s ever-shifting landscape.
There’s almost a sense of trepidation with the creepy leads at the beginning of Universal Deceit,the very jazzy, Gorguts-esque rhythms reminding us again that change is the only constant. A tumbling and skittish number, the various low-range bellows, growls and gruff roars only serve to keep the footing more uneven.
Moments of vertigo induced by this trickery are cleansed momentarily by savage runs of blastbeats, tremolo and slamming breakdowns. Although hyper-speed, the change is almost a welcome breath of air in an anxiously unpredictable album.
Then, like an ode to old-school horror the tolling bells,chants and choirs of The Sky Bleeds Nightmares demonstrate these guys can’t keep their love for old-school macabre from their beloved tunes. The Disney-on-bath-salts intro is washed away by that tight, cleverly chaotic wall of riffs.
Interludes here are tighter and more hectic with snappier solos, faster bass trills, schizophrenic drumming and vocals that rasp and roar in the murky ends of the sonic spectrum. A more straightforward thrashing and blasting outro sends this mind-numbingly caustic track off into the depths of the cosmos.
Oh, last track already? Where… where are we? Let’s regain our bearings and – oh. Oh my. Irredeemable is eleven goddamn minutes long. Nothing for a post-metal or ambient band, but eleven minutes of this band may just kill us, in a good way.
And as such it goes – luring us in with playful bass runs and soaring leads, we’re of course a bit wiser to what comes next, but still enjoy the brief solitude and relative quiet. Crashing and thundering with almost death-doom pace, the vocals bark from a wall beyond the tangible alongsidesplendidly evil arpeggios from Hell.
Rocking into their now-ubiquitous churning brand ofatmospheric tech-death, the blasts pick up and the beautiful cacophony beginsonce more. It’s almost beyond our cognitive capacity, but then we cop a coupleof minutes of just pure crushing stomp, followed by a strangely off-putting choral section (who I’m convinced are in black hooded robes) before one last rubber-banded epileptic riff showcase, and that’s it. Done.
What an exhausting, horrifying, clever and dense musical experience. This is a late-2018 death metal musical highlight.
You can grab your copy of ‘At The Nexus of Stillborn Worlds’ HERE!