Especially as a non-musician, I’m constantly amazed at the enormous array of technical skill that’s on display in the temples of extreme metal worldwide. But as most serious listeners understand, even eye-popping technical skill will only take a band so far… and actually, not very far at all when the performer’s sole objective seems to be displaying dexterity at high speed. Similarly, throwing in such things as a few bursts of discordant noodling or contrasting ambient sections does not make a death metal band “progressive”. Which brings me to the song we’re about to premiere by the Boston-based band Zealotry — a band that includes members of such other notable groups as Chthe’ilist, Serocs, Inhumatus, and Myth of I.
The name of the song is “Cybernetic Eucharist”, and it appears on their second album The Last Witness, set for release by Lavadome Productions on April 22. The technical performances do indeed display top-shelf skill, often at speed levels near the red zone, but there’s an ingenious method to this madness — this is the kind of death metal that in my book genuinely does merit the label “progressive”.
After a heavy, mid-paced start, constructed with the sounds of grinding bass and dissonant guitar, the song erupts, with bursts of bullet-spitting drums, swarming, chaotic notes, and predatory howling. The performers generate sounds that dart, swarm, swirl, and plummet, so crazed that they seem right on the edge of breaking their harness to the song — yet they don’t. And somehow, the acrobatic drum and bass work provides anchor points for the music while also launching their own excursions that are as exuberant as those of the guitarists. Even after a first listen, the threads of melody catch in the mind despite the intricacy of the music — though this is definitely the kind of song that can’t really be comprehended or fully appreciated on a first listen.
The song also includes two wonderful guitar solos. The first one comes as a big surprise — with its remarkable tone, it provides a sharp contrast to the chaos in which it surfaces. It sounds like the eerie wailing of a lost phantasm. The second transfixing solo comes as the pace of the song briefly relents and the atmosphere becomes even more morose and grim; it sounds both deranged and mesmerizing, both serpentine and scorching.
And speaking of morose and grim, while this is an instrumentally adventurous piece, it is still undeniably death metal. It stays heavy, malignant, and brutal even as it whips your brain around in a centrifuge.
As a sci-fi nerd, I’m also happy to report that the album conceptually tells the story of humanity’s end, as imagined by Arthur C. Clarke (among others). As the label explains, “It speaks of our species’ forced ascension and assimilation, compelled by the unseen, unknowable mind that tends to the cosmic clockwork and has decided the fates of countless other races.”
As noted, the album will be out on April 22 via Lavadome and it’s available for pre-order at this location. Here’s the track list:
1. Arc of Eradication
2. Heralding the Black Apostle
3. Cybernetic Eucharist
4. Progeny Omega
7. The Last Witness
Now, prepare to have your mind blown.
That cover art is stunning.
Agreed, though if I’m honest, it did make me expect to see a cover of Black Sabbath’s “(Butt)Hole in the Sky” on the track list…
…and so is the music