The progressive death metal tag always makes me a little jittery inside. I always think of heavy instrumental wanking, shit that feels like it was made by a robot, and a lack of a true heart. Not that it isn’t fun to hear. But that isn’t always the case as progressive death sometimes just means a band is taking things above and beyond the rest of the pack.
Boston-based crushers Zealotry definitely won’t leave you numb with senseless noodling and aren’t super interested in wowing you with how good they are as musicians. Their music, especially what they etched to record on their third platter “At the Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds,” is an absolute blast to hear. It’s flat-out entertaining as fuck, but I don’t want that to come off as whimsical. The record will knock you on your ass, and the band devastates your senses with their brutality and creativity that work hand in hand. I listen to every record I write about multiple times because you really have to if you’re going to get to know a collection of songs. For this new Zealotry album, I had to keep going back to examine all the twists and turns that this band—vocalist/guitarist R. Temin, guitarist/backing vocalist P. Tougas, guitarist Jake Himelfarb, drummer Alex Zalatan—packs into this challenging album. By the way, their promo photo looks like a Rock Card. If you don’t know what that is, I’m embarrassed. For you.
The title track kicks off the record with a crushing assault and the growls drilling into your chest. Weirdness is abounding as the basslines twist and sprawl, and we’re off into the jaws of sci-fi death, powered by exploratory lead lines and weird group chants compounding the strange aura. “Accursed” is a quick instrumental build by foggy synth and alien inhibitions, which takes us toward “Lethe’s Shroud” and its odd growls and splattering fury. Classic leads arrive, giving off a vintage heavy metal vibe, as the track spills drama and revels in it. The track chews and thrashes, with Temin wailing, “Tell me what it is that I’ve lost,” as the track blasts away. “Primus Venatoris” is adventurous and awash in proggy notions, with the vocals punishing and the guitars going off. There’s an old death metal feel to the track, and then jazzy playing emerges before the crunch returns. From there, the band unleashes a mangling assault, gurgling out in blood at the end.
“The Hole” has a bluesy feel out front, which feels bizarre at first but eventually makes sense. Throaty growls grind, while the pace chews bone and flesh, floating into a thick mist of keys. The track gets proggy and disorienting, with the guitars going on a new high and everything ending in a fiery burst and deep groans. “Universal Deceit” sprawls in from the void as beastly growls make their presence known, and fast, numbing guitars feel like they’re achieving time travel. The growls get thicker and more monstrous, with the soloing blinding you, and interplanetary energies splashing colors. “The Sky Bleeds Nightmares” starts with calls like they originate from a twisted movie, growls storming, and then a weird, dream-like state landing. The guitar work adds to that and confuses you, as demonic growls slither, and the drums punch holes in everything. “Irredeemable” is the 10:56 closer, basking in a guitar haze while the song gets off to a calculated pace. The fires are aggravated while the thrashy madness erupts, with growls crushing before the tempo slows. The heaviness never subsides, as growls gurgle, the intensity builds, and a weird choral section makes heads tilt before a soaring solo grabs your attention. The final minutes re-engage with insanity, as the growls mash, the band clobbers the senses, and adventurous guitars bring this to a rushing finish.
Zealotry have a fresh, weird approach to death metal, which is part of what makes “At the Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds” such a stunning album. They’re obviously incredible musicians and can play circles around most bands, but they’re more interested in making albums that are dramatic, compelling, and interesting. Yeah, call this band progressive all you want, but there’s way more substance behind that descriptor, and they’ll make you pay if you sell them short.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/zealotrymetal/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/