Zoroaster - Zoroaster - 2006 - Battle Kommand Records
1. Mons Venus 2. Bullwhip 3. Honey & Salt 4. Defile
Atlanta, Georgia has become quite a hotbed for heavy metal in recent years. Mastodon would of course be the first example that comes to mind, but they are not the only. Apocalyptic Visions and Lilitu are both noteworthy, if dramatically opposed, while groups like Withered and the featured Zoroaster delve into the muddy waters of sludge/doom.
In fact, a number of Americans have picked up this style, The Abominable Iron Sloth one of some note, and are leading its development into a legitimate genre. This is a pleasant change from the standard metal formula where America mimics and simplifies genres explored elsewhere, and for that Zoroaster and all their peers should be applauded.
Unfortunately, American Doom will not get too far if only groups like Zoroaster are performing it. They are supposedly quite a force to be reckoned with in their local scene and are diligent in their daily rehearsals (although the songwriting here hardly demands such dedicated practice), but their self-titled debut never stops struggles to define itself. By now, everyone familiar with metal knows that Doom Metal can employ many traits, ‘heavy’ and ‘ponderous’ being two of the most necessary, but a truly good doom album goes beyond these simple tenets.
It is, after all, called Doom for a reason, and while a down-tuned riff repeated at 40 bpm may be a piece of the puzzle, it is by no means the only one. Truly good doom demands depth of character and emotion from its performers. Zoroaster, while spot on with their mixing, production, and general approach, simply lack the spark to make this effort believable.
Their attempt at hypnotic, seductive riffing takes the correct first steps, but from there does not continue at all and instead seems entirely satisfied to plug away at the most basic levels of songwriting. The same elementary riffs are repeated for minutes on end, giving no impression of progress or development.
If Zoroaster are as dedicated as they claim to be, congratulations to them—hardworking musicians are the fabric of the metal community. But until their passion finds its way into their music, Zoroaster will not succeed.
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