“With frustration in their hearts, green lungs and Sternburg on their lips, ZEIT try to find their way through the great gray – The distress known as city: Inspiration, coercion, freedom and jail. In dark alleys full of delusions, doubtful souls roam, lost in addiction. No hood, no cult – no collective.”
With those words the Leipzig band Zeit introduce their second album, Drangsal (“distress”), which will be released this coming Friday, August 30th. Through a changing amalgam of black metal, sludge, and doom, they’ve created an album that’s relentlessly intense and brutally heavy in more ways than one, delivering music that captures the blighted urban existence described in those introductory words.
Zeit’s music has a stripped-down, un-polished, no frills quality, and it’s produced in a way that hits so hard and so powerfully that you can imagine your bones fracturing and bruises rising in ugly colors on your body. But the music is brutal on other levels as well — it’s also emotionally punishing, creating branching channels for the expression of disgust, pain, anguish, and bitter hopelessness.
Drangsal is a challenging album because Zeit are so utterly dedicated to embodying the physically, mentally, and emotionally destructive impacts of urban existence, but to be clear, they also know how to get your head moving — hard — and while there are few bright colors in these songs, the band use a changing musical palette to craft differing shades of darkness.
The opening track, “Schweigen“, provides an explosive introduction to Zeit’s pummeling power through an onslaught of heavily distorted hammering chords and jagged, cutting percussion, which leads into a lumbering rhythm and savage, scorching vocals. Bursts of bass drum and yowling guitar push through the heavy riffing, and eventually the song gets moving rough and fast, ramping up to a frenzy of violence through blasting and ferociously pounding drum tirades and viciously swarming fretwork, with the vocals elevating to wrenching shrieks.
“Schweigen” also displays the dynamic quality that characterizes all the tracks on Drangsal. Heavy reptilian riffs move through the thunder like a giant python. The propulsion slows, and the guitar moans like a wounded animal, but the song builds in intensity again, the riffing becoming more feverish as it cycles, with a final head-moving rhythm at the end.
The follow-on track, “Stirn“, is one of two on the album that debuted through a music video (we’ve included both of the videos below). The dolorous, rippling riff that opens the song immediately gets its hooks in the head and becomes the glue that holds the song together. The track includes a plethora of gravel-chewing bass-lines, jolting rhythms, and eruptions of ravaging mayhem, but the music is persistently distressing (and also eerily seductive in the track’s chiming mid-section). The vocals are nothing but riotous pain, intense enough to raise goosebumps.
“Stirn” might be the most melodically memorable track on the album, and “Babylon” might be the most head-moving, body-shaking, and relentlessly assaulting song on the record. After a jolting head-hammering start, it becomes a charging juggernaut of barbaric bass and drums and warping, raking riffage. The vocal defiance is absolutely savage. The main diversion here comes in sequences of start-stop percussive jackhammering and seething fretwork, with melodic pulses and fevers running through it that channel anguish and desperation.
Like “Stirn”, “Menschmaschine” was also presented through an engrossing music video, filmed and edited in Leipzig by the band’s vocalist/guitarist Fur, whose talents are clearly not limited to making music. The music, on its own, is deeply unsettling in its opening minutes, especially the vocals, which are almost unbearably intense. There’s a dismal quality to the boiling riffs that back those scorching vocals, and a grim and brutish oppressiveness in the sound of the craggy bass and the pounding percussion when the song segues into gloomier territory.
But there are more changes to come, when reverberating guitar tones and syncopated percussive sounds lead into a livelier and bouncier experience, which almost seems joyful — almost. When the band kick back into high gear after that unexpected interlude, the intensity mounts again as the riffing creates a mood that’s sorrowful and then desperate. A final bout of grim, crushing chords affords a last chance to pump your head like a piston before an abrupt halt.
An immediate attack of frenzied fretwork, gut-rumbling bass-and-drum tumult, and unchained vocal fury launches “Granne“. When the band slow the pace in this song, the thick, sludgy chords portray misery and gloom, but the resurgent energy that follows is wild and electrifying.
After the turbocharged mayhem of “Granne“, Zeit dramatically shift gears in the closing track. In its opening movement “357” is slow, lumbering, necrotic doom — primitive, crushing, and bereft of all hope. The song builds in intensity as the drums begin rumbling and the riffing becomes more frantic. With a martial snare rhythm the song also segues into a jolting bit of chugging brutishness, augmented by wretched howls, before collapsing again into a beleaguered doom stomp.
Drangsal will be released in digipack CD and two tape editions, all of them packaged in self-made, hand-numbered, and laser-cut packaging, along with bundles that include other merchandise. It’s also available as a digital download. All the options are available for pre-order now:
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