The more disparate aspects influence a band, the more it’s able to grow. Psalm Zero‘s music prior to the new album Sparta (Last Things Records) was all aggravated Indie, the tunes given an edge by guitarist Andrew Hock. With his departure and the subsequent recruitment of Kayo Dot pairing Keith Abrams and Ron Vodun, remaining founder member Charlie Looker has added a warmer, heavier feel to the Grungey lightness and this, together with a tantalising contribution from Lingua Ignota‘s Kristin Hayter, makes the album an enticing prospect. Continue reading
What exactly is going on in New York? The city has a long musical history, of course, but in recent years it seems to have become a focus point for challenging, original and distinctive Heavy Metal. We’re not talking about some forced “scene” with three or four decent bands setting the tone for a horde of bland followers, either – though Psalm Zero share a certain spirit with their neighbours in Pyrrhon, Krallice and Artificial Brain, musically they’re as distinctive as those bands are from each other.
Not that the music on Stranger To Violence (Profound Lore) is especially easy to describe. The label blurb makes much of their Pop influence, but this is hardly the chorus-heavy cheese-fest that word may suggest – the song-writing somehow marries catchiness to a genuine sense of unease and strangeness. The Metal elements shouldn’t be overlooked, either – the use of synths often calls to mind the darker side of eighties Pop, but just when you think you’ve got them in a box they’ll shift to a surging bombast that has more in common with Emperor than Depeche Mode. The extremely sparse use of harsh vocals in the most aggressive sections create a real sense of dislocation, too, hitting with an impact that they lack in music which uses them more regularly. It’s Pop Metal, but nothing like any other band that’s been given that name before.
If the music is hard to describe, the aesthetic behind it is no less so. The artwork suggests urban dystopia, and though that is certainly present on tracks like ‘Real Rain’ and ‘Stolen By Night’, there’s also an undercurrent of dark fantasy and strangeness to it that can’t be described easily. It’s frequently as uplifting as it is sinister, as dark as it is catchy.
In a genre with so many offshoots and sub-types that it seems as though every possibility has been thoroughly explored, Psalm Zero have genuinely succeeded in carving their own little niche – and it’s a strange, fascinating little place indeed.
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Shadow Woods Metal Fest will be happening on September 25-27, 2015 in Fannettsburg, PA in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Artists taking part on the fest include:
Anagnorisis (Louisville, KY – black metal)
Anicon (New York, NY – black metal)
Ashagal (New Hope, PA – ritual folk)
Bridesmaid (Columbus, OH – instrumental doom-sludge)
Cladonia Rangiferina (VA – ritual black metal, doom, acid rock)
Dendritic Arbor (Pittsburgh, PA – black metal / powerviolence)
Destroying Angel (Philadelphia, PA – folk music for exorcisms)
Dreadlords (Philadelphia, PA – ritual black metal blues)
Dweller In The Valley (Frederick, MD – black, death, doom)
Existentium (Baltimore, MD – melodic technical death metal)
Falls of Rauros (Portland, ME – folk/atmospheric black metal)
Fin (Chicago, IL – black metal; unsigned)
Heavy Temple (Philadelphia, PA – psychedelic doom)
Hivelords (Philadelphia, PA – experimental psychedelic black doom)
Immortal Bird (Chicago, IL – black/death metal)
Iron Man (MD – doom metal/heavy rock)
Menace Ruine (Montreal, QC – avant-garde drone black metal)
Midnight (Cleveland, Ohio – black heavy metal)
Molasses Barge (Pittsburgh, PA – traditional doom metal)
Occultation (New York, NY – doom metal)
Oneirogen (New York, NY – dark, doom, drone)
Psalm Zero (New York, NY – experimental black doom)
Sentience (Woodland Park, NJ – death metal)
Slagstorm (Hagerstown, MD – prehistoric doom thrash)
Snakefeast (Baltimore, MD – jazz metal sludge)
Stone Breath (Red Lion, PA – experimental folk)
The Black Moriah (Dallas/Fort Worth, TX – Western occult black/thrash)
The Day of the Beast (Virginia Beach, VA – blackened death metal)
The Expanding Man (Baltimore, MD – solo improvisational electronic soundscapes)
The Flight of Sleipnir (Denver, CO – black metal)
The Owls Are Not What They Seem (York, PA – experimental ritual soundscapes)
Tyrant’s Hand (Baltimore, MD – deathened black metal)
Unsacred (Richmond, VA – savage black metal)
Velnias (Denver, CO – blackened folk/doom metal)
Wormreich (Huntsville, AL & Nashville, TN – black metal)
ZUD (Portland, ME – bluesy outlaw black metal)
Watch the trailer for the fest below.
Shadows Woods Metal Fest on Facebook
Shadows Woods Metal Fest on YouTube
Psalm Zero is the last offering of the Canadian label Profound Lore Records and, once again, they hit the nail in the head (please do not forget about the amazing Artificial Brain’s Labyrinth Constellation that was also released by the label). This time around with Psalm Zero, a project that unites two great musicians and artists: Charlie Looker (Extra Life and Zs) and Andrew Hock (Castevet). Two musicians, two artists that have pushed the boundaries and delivered art of higher level. More often than we would like to admit, projects with members of known bands (if you don’t know them it’s your problem) fail because the members of those projects are afraid of facing with each-others style, influences and artistic output. Well, that doesn’t happen with Psalm Zero. With their debut full-length album The Drain, they face each other and there’s an enormous clash which makes the album such an enormous piece.
The first thing to make an impression on the listener its how the harsh vocals of Andrew Hock face the beautiful, overly dramatic – just imagine Morrissey (The Smiths) singing on and old, beautiful and huge cathedral and you will have an idea how profound, romantic and heartbreaking Hock’s vocals are – making a game of power sometimes and other times just a simple and incredible beautiful harmony like if they were meant to be together. The other thing is the all atmosphere of the record: perhaps the best description is post-punk industrialized that operates in this all spectrum of melancholy being sometimes just mournful other times just fuckin’ heavy with nothing on its mind other that pure and utterly rage. Seven songs and a record with just thirty eight minutes of running time, The Drain is an incredible and amazing introduction into their universe. There have been a lot of projects lately that are based on the 80s post-punk sonority, Psalm Zero are just one of most, if not the most, interesting projects of them all. Another pearl at the end of the ocean. Addictive and exciting.