Release DetailsLABEL Codebreaker Records
RELEASED ON 9/27/2004
posted on 6/2005 By:
With their debut album, Switzerland’s Zatokrev (Czech for Blood For This) jump into the still gathering throng of atmospheric sludge bands spawned from the collective rib of acts like Neurosis, Isis, and Cult of Luna. That party is getting pretty cramped, but Zatokrev have actually been at the table for longer than it seems—this album was originally released last year and the band is currently working on a follow up for a late ’05 release. Zatokrev are more consistently heavy than most bands in the genre, and they focus less on constructing dynamic melodies. It’s difficult to predict whether this will be an effective strategy to differentiate themselves from the large field of high quality bands within the genre. At first blush it may seem that the band needs to work just a little harder on their songwriting, but subsequent listens reveal subtle layering and effects that provide less explicit charms.
The material on this album is split between short, more linear songs and the sprawling, lengthy compositions that are the hallmark of the genre. The first three tracks, beginning with “Reveal”, are all about five minutes long. The opener is one of the stronger tracks on the album, and its jagged edged rumbling and heavy handed drum work are a strong match for Frederyk Rotter’s anguished shouts. Rather than using more traditional tempo changes, the band plugs along at the same midpaced rate, and intermittently adds additional instrumentation to add layers of slower melodies that create some nice dynamics. But what makes the technique so effective is that while the guitars are adding a more gentle melody, drummer Silvio Spadino begins to beat the living shit out of his cymbal. The two other shorter tracks don’t have quite as much punch, but both are quite solid, other than the clean vocals on “C Through”, which aren’t bad but don’t completely work. The band stretches their legs on the last two songs, the 10 minute “…Zatokrev” (their “Iron Maiden”) and the 15 minute “Forem”, but the two songs have a nice variation of approach. The especially venomous vocal approach, exaggerated by the use of non-English (Czech, I think) vocals dominate the scorched terrain of the title track. Conversely, much of “Forem” uses a clean, breathy vocal that is a bit like Chino Moreno from Deftones. But the vocals in those passages are mixed substantially lower, so they add accent to the music rather than overwhelming it. The band also uses moments of tribal drumming and drone that work quite well. The most obvious example is the several minutes of the closing track, which consist of a droning sample of ambience.
Zatokrev have produced an impressive debut album, although it seems their best work is yet to be heard. One gets the impression that Zatokrev are still refining their craft, and it seems a sure bet that their second effort will iron out some of the rough edges, minor as they are, while building on their numerous strengths. It’s a debut, and it feels like just that, although it is still entirely worth your cash.
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