Review Summary: Post-metal and industrial combined with some twitchy rhythms.
It seems to be getting harder and harder for a band to deliver anything truly original. The old adage about it all having been done before is increasingly becoming more true. In order to stand out, there really only seems to be two options available – either they attempt to set themselves apart by being the best at a particular sound or they combine various genres in an attempt to find some sort of unoccupied niche. After multiple listens to Czar’s debut EP, it appears that they have gone the second route by combining post-metal and industrial, filtered through twitchy prog-like arrangements.
Anyone familiar with Acumen Nation
will immediately recognize two of that band’s members, as well as their signature style and sound. This album’s groundwork is built on the fuzzy, industrialized riffs that Acumen Nation are known for except they’ve been slightly modified to fit the post-metal style. In their current setting, the riffs have a slight melodic edge and don’t ever get as chaotic despite the jittery nature of the music. The other component carried over from Acumen Nation is the distorted vocals of Jason Novak. Unfortunately, his overly-processed voice doesn’t work nearly as well within the confines of post-metal as it does in industrial. It’s a shame because with all of the different vocal effects available, his voice could have been one of the most defining characteristics of the band, but as it stands they’re better left ignored. The saving grace, in this regard, is that the EP is almost entirely instrumental which allows for the infrequent vocal contributions to be easily disregarded.
The elements that can’t be dismissed are the excellent percussion, eerie melodies, and dark synth drones that make up the bulk of the EP. It is the busy and creative percussion of Dan Brill that provides a majority of the jittery feel that is present in every song. His inventive beats, double bass rolls and drum patterns provide an excellent framework for the industrialized riffs to work from and end up being the band’s most defining characteristic. Over this foundation are a multitude of various guitar melodies that range from mellow and soothing to distorted and dissonant. It is these melodies that carry the songs and provide them with most of their memorable moments. The songs are completed by (mostly) subtle waves of synths and sound effects that simply provide faint flourishes to the atmosphere being created. The only problem is that even with all of these elements, the band still requires a bit of work when it comes to combining them in the best way possible. Occasionally a riff will go for too long or a melody will start to bog down a song, but those issues are generally short-lived.
For the time being, it appears that Czar have found their own little niche but they also still have some work to do. The rhythms and percussion are top notch and the various guitar melodies aren’t too far behind, but the EP does display a few areas that need work. The main area requiring attention is Jason Novak’s vocals. Jason’s use of excessive distortion on his voice ruins what could have been another key element of the band’s music. In the future it would definitely be nice to hear some different, less generic, vocal effects. The other issue is simply in the crafting of the songs themselves. As a six-song EP the album never has a chance to bog down in the occasional overuse of a riff or weaker melody, but those shortcomings are still evident. For now, though, this EP serves as a good introduction to the band through the use of inventive percussion, solid melodies and decent songwriting.
I received an e-mail from the band and I want correct that what I thought was distortion in the vocals was, in fact, EQ, compression and some backwards reverb. His vocals aren't actually distorted at all.