Czar
Vertical Mass Grave


3.5
great

Review

by scissorlocked USER (35 Reviews)
December 11th, 2011 | 26 replies | 5,818 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A solid, though common, industrialized beast

Vertical Mass Grave's cover depicts a widely known, in the world of science fiction "geeks" and cinema lovers, object. It's a Monolith. In Arthur C. Clarke's complex universe, Monoliths are advanced machines built from extraterrestrial species that appear in the solar system, triggering evolutionary shifts in human history. They are really bad-ass objects - anyone who witnessed the terror of those hominids in Kubrick's film can tell. Now, to those who already came up with a metaphor about how groundbreaking the band is, let's make it clear: Czar is a modern metal band that brings nothing new to the table. Should this be a reason to condemn Vertical Mass Grave to oblivion?

Definitely not.

Raised from the ashes of the industrial metallers Acumen Nation, Czar have created an amazingly massive sound which follows the mechanized learnings of Godflesh. The trio from Chicago isn't all about the bulkiness though. There's pretty much going on even when the heavy riffing doesn't engross all the attention. In "Diapers", melodic passages balance the storming, whereas coiling leads add brushstrokes of melody in the rather frigid and polyrythmic construction. The dialogue between the industrialized heftiness and the robotic sentimentality echoes through most of the songs. Still, it isn't melody nor rawness that drives the album, but rhythm.

The mostly downtuned riffing, is spasmodic and dense, built upon chugging rhythms and brutal hooks. "Family Crest", the album's opener is undeniable proof. Together with Novak's raspy voice that brings to mind singers from Townsend to Anselmo, the song combines sludgey dirt with hardcore stacatto rhythms. "Brunt" continues with the same pace, successfully combining the Fear Factory heritage of crystal density with the vociferous yelling of Strapping Young Lad's first releases. The more chaotic moments aren't rare though. "Tubman Gutletter" mixes layers of smudgy riffs with small melodic themes and solid drumming. Textures of noise and quiet dissonant notes are often buzzing and rumbling in the background. The closing song, "Reedemer" is probably the ultimate manifestation of the band's vision, as it brilliantly includes all the aforementioned elements.

As brilliant as all these may seem, it is significant to pinpoint that Vertical Mass Grave fails to escape the humdrum universe of the post-millennium metal modernity. While Czar's construction is almost flawlessly coherent and the album flows well enough, there's hardly anything that gives the band a certain character. Their sound, while paying its certain debt to initial forerunners such as Fear Factory, isn't garnished with further elements. Sticking to such a recipe, inevitably puts Czar next to bands like Gojira or Hacride, whose songwriting ability the trio can't compete. Vertical Mass Grave, gives the impression of a band striving for balanced album between brutality and refinement. Though not failing, the album seems somehow lost inside its stuttering perplexity, unable to externalize its furious nature when needed, or to leave proper space for the listener to breath when the spastic rhythms give their way to creeping melodies.

Neither an oasis inside the deserted fields of modern, post-metal sound (in the likes of Meshuggah, Jesu and Fear Factory offsprings) nor a failed effort, Vertical Mass Grave is a solid and enjoyable debut. Though far from being the “thinking man’s metal", Czar, with a further progression of their sound and songwriting skills, can become a name that fits in that category, even if it keeps sounding paradoxical at times.



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
scissorlocked
December 11th 2011



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is for Willie who believed this band! ;)

It streams here: http://sputnikmusic.com/blog/?p=8209

enjoy!

Digging: Leon Vynehall - Music For The Uninvited

Willie
Moderator
December 11th 2011



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have to disagree with the Meshuggah references, because although they play around with rhythms, that doesn't automatically mean they sound anything like Meshuggah. Even worse are the Fear Factory references which, IMO, totally miss the mark.

To me, this is more like a cross between Voivod and Isis. The weird rhythms don't automatically mean it's Meshuggah. The guitar tones and song structures have way more to do with those two bands, IMO. It's like post metal with a working gas pedal ;)

I'd also have to disagree with them bringing nothing new to the table. The style that they're doing obviously isn't brand new, but it's definitely not an imitation of any one band -- and certainly not that Djent shit.

Also, the amount of typos makes it look rushed because Word should have easily caught the period misplacements and stuff.

Acanthus
December 11th 2011



9537 Comments


I clicked on the review because I liked the cover, I stayed because I heard Acumen Nation.

Willie's correct about the Word bit.

scissorlocked
December 11th 2011



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Typos fixed- I've been working in wordpad lately cause by Word is broken or something.

as for the Meshuggah and Fear Factory references: surely there's almost no "djent" here, but that doesn't mean the spirit of such bands is absent. Without Meshuggah giving depth to staccato rhythmic patterns and Fear Factory crystallizing that kinda robotic riffing, I think there would be no Czar as it is in this album.
I don't mean they sound alike, but imo there's a lot of such bands in Vertical Mass Grave,mainly because of the style of sound- not song structures

I haven't mentioned post-metal references, cause i don't see climaxes and dynamics in here- their approach is more straightforward I believe

As for the "bringing nothing new to the table" part, that was a statement connected with my perception of approaching Czar mostly in terms of how their sound is to be perceived inside the modern metal standards.

and certainly I don't think they're anything like Meshuggah followers. The second paragraph makes it clear that their sound is more than immitation!



Willie
Moderator
December 11th 2011



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Then check the stream!

Acanthus
December 11th 2011



9537 Comments


Am checking now sir.

@Scissor - I hate when word decides to die, I got tired of it an opted for OpenOffice.

scissorlocked
December 11th 2011



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah man, that's what I'm going to do

besides open office is also great and, most important, free!

you can also check the strem and tell us your opinion!

Acanthus
December 11th 2011



9537 Comments


Yup, I really love that part!

Willie
Moderator
December 11th 2011



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Without Meshuggah giving depth to staccato rhythmic patterns and Fear Factory crystallizing that kinda robotic riffing, I think there would be no Czar as it is in this album.
Try listening to Dimension:Hatross and Killing Technology from Voivod, Mods Carve the Pig from Thought Industry, Manic Impressions from Anacrusis, Sanity Obscure and Dimensions from Believer, and Damn the Machine from Damn the Machine and you'll find more than enough influences that pre-date FF and Meshuggah. Considering the ages of the guys in this band, I think those bands listed are the more likely influences.

I haven't mentioned post-metal references, cause i don't see climaxes and dynamics in here- their approach is more straightforward I believe
The whole album is like one continuous song (which might be hard to catch onto with the breaks in the stream), and there are plenty of highs/lows and dynamics during that time.

Anyway, I'm not trying to say you're wrong... just that I disagree and why.

scissorlocked
December 11th 2011



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've listened to most of Voivod's discography and Dimension Hatross is one of my favorite albums. I also like Anacrusis. As for Thought Industry, Believer and Damn the machine I can ensure that I've never checked them extensively. I'll try to listen some of their stuff.

The whole album is like one continuous song

I generally agree with such a statement, but I can't see changes in dynamics that justify the post metal reference. The instrumentation is kinda buried under a constant fuzz, and the structures aren't directed towards climaxing.

anyway, our disagreement seems to be more on the bands which influenced Czar, than the band itself.
As for my Meshuggah and FF reference, was more like a product for the listener's orientation, and not a one that came after hard work of comparison between bands. I may as well saying shit!

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2011



31085 Comments


Gotta say that it's getting a little tiring seeing every new metal band being compared to Meshuggah

Digging: Banks - Goddess

taylormemer
December 11th 2011



4916 Comments


Yeah. Kinda bugs me also.

Willie
Moderator
December 11th 2011



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This isn't like Meshuggah. I know he says it is, but I have to disagree.

scissorlocked
December 12th 2011



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not saying it is like Meshuggah, I'm saying it has some Meshuggah in it, inevitably!

Anyway, i'd like to see your review about this sometime Trey, so we can further discuss it!

Willie
Moderator
December 12th 2011



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's coming ;)

glezz
April 10th 2012



235 Comments


No Fear Factory here, but there is some Quicksand - Slip!

This band has a Post Metal influence.
It's a great listen and there are lots of colliding angular chords and riffs.

Willie
Moderator
April 10th 2012



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is still on my list of things to review.

eternium
April 10th 2012



16337 Comments


I still need to check this out.

AsoTamaki
April 28th 2012



2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This was cool. The album does flow like one continuous song. Some of the tracks just felt like extended jams rather than actual songs. I definitely wasn't expecting so much of it to be instrumental either with only sparse vocal parts.

scissorlocked
April 28th 2012



3509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's good but I doubt If i"ll ever listen to it again



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