Formed in 2003 with the combined influential spirit of bands like the Melvins, Celtic Frost and the legendary Black Sabbath, psychedelic sludge-drenched trio Zoroaster have been clearing a path of their own with a unique brand of sonic annihilation. Much like fellow Atlanta, Georgia natives Mastodon, Zoroaster appear to be very determined to erase the current set of genre boundaries in heavy music and draw their own thunderous blueprint of a new machine. The band soldiers on with the sole purpose of assaulting the listener’s senses, while continuously shunning trends and adapting its ability to become a whole new monster altogether. From the band’s ground-shaking doom of the earlier days, the synthesizer-horns-and-theremin-sprinkled instrumentation and surreal darkness of the 2007 full-length, Dog Magic, to the self-released 2009 effort Voice of Saturn, the band’s apparent mission goal to plug in and lay waste to everything in site with their sheer power has very much remained intact.
Produced and mixed by Sanford Parker (Coffinworm, The Gates of Slumber, Lair of the Minotaur), Matador (E1 Music) finds the sound of Zoroaster achieving yet another level of quaking volume and enough muscle to crush all opposition. The vocal approach of the album varies from soaring vocals and echos to a raw, sand-paper-to-the-voicebox harshness (as found on “Black Hole” and the title track) that packs a bloody-knuckle punch. The spacey vibe and pace of the album’s opener, “D.N.R.” sets the course of the journey perfectly with its tripped-out-through-the-cosmos stoner rock approach and gives the listener their first glimpse of Zoroaster‘s evolution. Following up is “Ancient Ones”, dripping with enough psychedelic qualities to cause hallucinogenic reactions. Each song that follows is stays in formation with that sentiment in its own special way. “Odyssey” is just that, a space-warp guitar psych-out to the edge of the universe. The raw-throated vocals of and driving doom-rock stomp of “Trident” (a definite highlight of the record) push the pedal closer toward hyper-drive while “Firewater” takes a somewhat different turn in that it is essentially a brain-swirling jam-fest, complete with feedback, out-of-this-world noise and distortion. This is creates a feeling that fits nicely with the other components of the latest installment of the Zoroaster conquest.
When all is said and done, Matador is a sincerely solid collection of spaced-out tunes that have the ability to crush your skull in so many astounding ways. As a result, it could easily be said that if you’re in need of something of equal parts pummeling sludge and “Planet Caravan”-style atmospherics, then Zoroaster may have just the voyage you’re looking for. This reviewer is one-hundred percent glad he experienced the trip!!