Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Shooting Guns/Zaum – Split: Himalaya To Mesopotamia (2015) / 84%

Cool artwork with an oriental and cosmic identity.

Instrumental Maple Syrup Part II : The Cosmopolitan Influence on Canada's doom

I was happily surprised to learn that Zaum released a split with the fellow Canadians of Shooting Guns. Zaum's debut album on I Hate was one of the best doom records of 2014 and it's fun to hear some new stuff from them already. This split is pretty interesting since it's combining two different ethnic influences (as demonstrated by the inventive title) to doom but also two different styles of the music genre into one potent and epic release. Let's start the trip, shall we?

On the first side, we have the instrumental quintet from Saskatoon unleashing three new songs for a total of twenty minute. Their usual sound is a very psychedelic and space rock influenced sort of doom/stoner metal and this split doesn't deviate from their norm too much but it brought a Himalayan influence, their sound is almost shamanic this time around. The background is very lush with a bunch of fusion rock keyboards and sounds intertwined with the constant barrage of riffs and repetitive/kraut guitar leads. Able to transcend genres, Shooting Guns doesn't need any vocals to deliver their insanely cosmic message. Neither overly complex nor simplistic, the songwriting and musicianship is quite solid and is aided in their quest by the airy but space tight production work. The music is relatively slow but can accelerate when needed but one for thing is for sure, it's always groovy and the drumming and bass playing make sure the rhythm is always solid and vivid. I feel the band could be even more heavier though but that's a mild criticism since they do shine on both the soft and hard moments.

I hope the band will visit the Canadian east coast soon enough since experiencing this sort of music live must be something else. I bet there's absolutely no need for any LSD when you have these fellows playing in front of you.

Zaum's side is only one long track but it's a pretty magical one. Longer than any of the four songs on their full length Oracles, the nineteen minutes “The Serpentshrine” feels like a logical continuation of the album but with an even more present epic and atmospheric flair. The song is quite long and it takes a lot of time to get it started, some would say it has some filler but I liked the long introduction with some clean chanting in the background and the soft bass lines. While, admittedly, it could had been tighter and more massive, I like their non metallic parts a lot and would probably listen to a full album of that as some background reading music. Kyle McDonald's vocals are a mix of clean soft mesmerizing chanting and a harsher, evil tone when the metal side of the band decides to show its face almost midway through the song.

The band is a two piece and while the main influence is Om's, I feel they're able to distinguish themselves with the amount of ethnic (Arabic, Mesopotamian) luggage they travel with. The bass and drums lineup has nothing to envy to the full five members unit of their split brothers in terms of richness as there's many other instruments involved such as sitars. It's not lo-fi nor too simple, it's slow but emotionally complex. This duo is impressive and while there's some minor details to fix, their future is bright.

It's a good split worth a look if you dig original and out of the ordinary doom metal and it also serves a showcase for two excellent bands from two Canadian provinces that aren't usually in the spotlight when we talk about metal coming from my country. Doom on fellows! 

No comments: