Review Summary: A lovely blend of doom and world music...
The Canadian mantra doom duo, Zaum took the world by surprise in 2014 with their strong debut, Oracles
. Stepping on Om’s path, the antic, Eastern vibes enhanced the heavily distorted bass lines and pounding drums, offering an epic journey as it told tales from the Mesopotamian and Red Sea area. Although similar in fashion, there are noticeable differences between the two bands, mainly the overall sound. The wide array of effects used often give the impression these guys have recorded everything in a cathedral. Also, most of the time, the vocals channel Gregorian chants or vile priests tones, rather than the more down-to-earth, spoken verses Al Cisneros uses. Meanwhile, the successful tours all around Europe and their home country raised expectations for this sophomore effort.
Luckily, Zaum didn’t rest on their laurels and came up last winter with ‘The Serpentshrine’, a 20-minute mammoth curveball which steered into harder hitting territory. In the end, it differs considerably from Eidolon
, an album that saw Kyle and Chris turning their vision towards former Central American civilizations and their mysterious music. Bringing everything to the table, we are given two epics, 21-minute odysseys that combine electric instruments with several traditional ones. The first part, ‘Influence of the Magi’ starts with a medieval chant, before evolving into a throat singing segment, where horns and tribal drums build up tension. The attention to details makes for a vivid experience, using a new wave-inspired drone to fuel their doom outings. When the guys finally burst into action, we receive a monolithic dirge boasting layered vocals. While not the most refined, the latter add to the overall atmosphere. Halfway, it retreats to a brooding ambient to raise tension through windy synths and sustained low notes, only to give way to a crushing finale, featuring powerful, raucous shouts. The coda makes the transition to the second part of the record, ‘The Enlightenment’, another beast with a slightly different approach. Using recordings of rainfall and bird calls, a deep horn enters over them to give the tone. Then, a massive riff proceeds, heavily punctuated by huge, reverbed drum patterns. The straightforward first half harkens to Oracles
' core, yet soon we are sent deeper into the jungle. Driven through several effects for a mesmerizing tone, the bass lines, together with the vocals switch between spiritual and aggressive stances. Here you can hear Om’s influence the most, however, it’s only a phase into a multifaceted sequence. It’s nice to see them pushing further both ways, bringing together eerie and murky segments for a complete journey.
Although I gave my best to describe Eidolon
, words don’t do enough justice, as its appeal comes from blending several moods into a really attractive, cohesive work. Considerably airier than Oracles
, this sequel is an ambitious project that not only pays off, but it also distances Zaum from Om, creating for themselves a sphere of their own.