Zoroaster – Matador   1 comment

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Zoroaster are a band to never been content with sticking with one sound or a certain formula, 2007’s Dog Magic and 2009’s Voice of Saturn saw the band pushing in different directions and now with their new album “Matador” about to be released on the E1 Music label, they are again trying something different. While the band still remains within the realms of Psychedelic Doom, Matador does show hints at a more assessable approach to the way they write songs. Don’t worry though, this is still very much in the Doom mold but with more and shorter songs this time around, the album does sound like it was made for a wider audience. Just like High On Fire made some subtle but noticeable changes in direction with their latest effort also on the E1 label, Zoroaster have followed a similar route. I’m not trying to bring up some kind of conspiracy angle here but the change is obvious from one spin of the disc.

From the opening track, “D.N.R” you get a good taste of the changes made as its less avant-garde than previous works and more typical of what you hear in the Doom Metal genre. There is still some heavy-duty Stoner Rock riffing but the overall feel is much more spacious and traditional for the want of a better word but with a very spacey vibe. While the opener is good, the second track “Ancient Ones” is even better. Based around heavy rhythms and a classic Zoroaster approach to songwriting, its a good track but the short running time is a bit of a let-down. After all the band has made their name by creating long, slow building pieces rather than ones straight to the point like this tune. “Odyssey” is more on the space-rock end of the Zoroaster spectrum but to be perfectly honest, even after about 10 times of listening to the track i still can’t remember much about it. “Trident” has some killer solo work from guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore and is surprisingly infectious for a Zoroaster song. The sudden rush of energy the song delivers is a breath of fresh air at this point of the album and i wish the album had more songs like this one. At the halfway point on Matador you get “Firewater” and this time, the band has created a total keeper. Full of groove, mind-bending solo’s, guitar noise and feedback, its a short but powerful piece. “Old World” takes the band to spacier Doom vibes and its also more of a throw-back to the sounds of early Om, its still Zoroaster but the feel of the song is more in-tune with sounds from many years ago.

“Black Hole” is next and it brings the album back to the aggressive approach like what is heard in the song “Trident”. It also features one of the best riffs on Matador and yet again Will Fiore delivers some great solo work but in the great tradition of trying something different each time, he uses a echo unit of some kind to great effect. By the time the second to last track “Odyssey II” comes along, you have given up on trying to compare Matador with previous albums, its no “Dog Magic” but its trying hard not to be. “Odyssey II” is basically a interlude setting the mood for the closing and title track “Matador”. Again the mood is shifted and the style takes another direction and a life of its own. After a very slow and long build up, the song finally takes off into the realms of dramatic, prog-doom which only gets heavier as the songs progresses. Even though the track is based around a lot of ambiance, the overall mood is dark, menacing and eerie. The final section of Matador sees Zoroaster setting up a killer grooves, sound effects that engulf the senses and feedback. The feeling you get after hearing this track is one of pure exhaustion and i am sure that is the exact effect they were after when recording the song. “Matador” sounds like a album made to destroy minds but impress the more mainstream metal media all at the same time. They should achieve both those goals with this album. How this stands up against previous work, is totally up to you, the listener. Personally, i find it to have a few gray areas but a lot of highlights too. Its also a album that demands several listens to fully appreciate and don’t fall into the trap of comparing it to earlier albums. Zoroaster have again made a great album in its own right and one that deserves to stand out on its own in your Doom Metal collection.

Conclusion time – I can already hear some old Zoroaster fans bitching about its the not the same as “Dog Magic” or “Voice of Saturn”. I can also hear the elitist types crying about “they are on E1 music” so now they have sold out just like High On Fire”. This is of course completely untrue because like High On Fire, Zoroaster have taken another step forward in becoming the music legends they already are but the more mainstream media is still yet to accept. “Matador” is a powerful, ambitious piece of work that is full of surprises and it gets better with every spin so i will rate this album but ignore my scorecard because its likely to change. 8/10



Posted May 25, 2010 by doommantia in Zoroaster

One response to “Zoroaster – Matador

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  1. Well.. For me his is the album of the year so far…

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