When Zoroaster packed up shop and headed over to a more mainstream record label – E1 Records to be specific – the widespread metal world kept their eyes glued to see what holy form their music would take on next. General consensus believed a more “accessible” release was on its way, but instead, they received Matador, an effort packed with psychedelic grooves, tons of feedback, and dissonant voices.
Matador opens in a very hearty fashion with “D.N.R.”, providing all listeners with glimpses of a strange new Zoroaster. Gone are the slow and slightly boring drone songs. Gone are the 13-minute-long endeavors that feel as if Sleep already conquered and claimed as common territory. What’s left is something that is raw, brooding, and genuinely psychedelic.
What pushes this unique, metallic buzz into the Floydian realm? Is it the strange chanting vocals or the Middle Eastern tones and samples? No. It’s the fact that Zoroaster have started to jam. Okay, so it would be a bit bizarre to have a metal version of Phish running around, but guitarist Will Fiore just loves to noodle here. And no, it’s not just the heavy riffing that does it; each musician branches off to wail away on his own instrument. The music sounds huge because of the new jam-band mentality that exists at the forefront on Matador, creating an infinite amount of sonic-space for the mind to roam free.
“Firewater” is a perfect example of the above statement. For four straight minutes guitar noodling, riffing, feedback, and noises are heard over hard-hitting drums and a pulse-pounding bass. The constant screeching distortions found on this song prove that an eclectic type of doom shoegaze exists, and it’s damn good.
Another stand out element that has developed over Zoroaster’s major progressions are the vocals on each track. They range from low groans to black metal screams to curious chantings. Each unique voice is dissonant and helps to create strange vibrations that support the music in a majestic way. With inspiration being taken from the Iranian prophet/philosopher Zoroaster, it would have to be quite sovereign. The coolest vocals exist on one of the longest songs on Matador. “Old World” consists of raining cymbal sounds, echoing voices, and Black Sabbath riffs to top it all off.
Folks, I can’t get over how much these guys have improved and progressed. When their last album, Voice of Saturn, was released, I checked it out after hearing only great things about it. I was extremely disappointed, listening to the album only a few times before shelving it for good. Matador is a completely different affair. More soul and more inspiration seems to have found their way into the music. Zoroaster has crafted something of incomparable proportions, and it truly shows on this effort.
In sum, if you’re looking for something auditory that is full of doom and gloom yet dabbles in great visions of kaleidoscopic images and brightly colored death, this album is for you. If not, well, then you can just go listen to the new M.I.A. album, I suppose.