A histrionic chime of a small bell is the first noise that greets the listener. It seemingly summons spiritual moans and groans that echo in the proverbial temple of Zaum‘s oeuvre. ‘Relic’ begins placidly, slowly building its way up to the riff that forms the song’s centrepiece, and when that riff arrives it is a blissful moment.
The low, bouncing explosion that is each deliberate stroke of guitar strings is purposeful and muscular and makes for an infectious riff. It’s good that the riff is so enjoyable because the listener gets a whole lot of it; the pace of this album is absolutely glacial. It takes twelve minutes for the first tempo change to occur! So, the song is a test of patience as much as it is an enjoyable experience. As the vocals arrive, swamped in reverb, they reverberate across the track like a playful spirit adding a sense of jovial melancholy, and completing a rather accomplished track.
Next up is the pop single; ‘Pantheon’, so defined because it remains under ten minutes in length. This relatively concise track wastes no time in jumping into the meat of its content, with a Funk driven bass lead riff that carries the tune. Things here become altogether more familiar and less esoteric than the previous track; with cleaner vocals that are higher in the mix and the Rock riff the bass pulls out, we begin to enter the realm of Sleep. Hardly a criticism, of course, Sleep are one of the most influential bands in Stoner and Doom circles so ever likely that Zaum may end up at times emulating these heroes. The song itself doesn’t really grow over its run time and remains a pleasant listen that fails to reach any higher as its predecessor had done.
Finale, ‘Procession’, starts with a minimalist bass pluck and airy synths floating around in the background. Then a colossal roar greets expectant ears as the whole band kick in. If nothing else, Zaum ultimately impress mightily with their gargantuan sound. There is plenty more to find praise in, particularly on this final song: It’s more sombre than the prior tracks; if ‘Relic’ and ‘Pantheon’ were spiritual journeys to find meaning, ‘Procession’ is aptly the funeral dirge, the bitter end to an arduous journey.
Whether or not the journey was fruitless will vary FROM listener to listener as this release is not one to please the general populous; it requires a great deal of patience and concentration, an almost meditative state is required. A beautiful spectrum of technicolour will wash over you if such time is afforded, and you will greatly enjoy this ambitious and admirable album.
7 / 10