We’ve talked before about the craft that Zhora bring to their music.
Tucked away in Clonmel, they indulge their inclinations in a way that’s led to a pure artistic pursuit.
As we found out in their Fractured video by John Mulvaney, theirs is an ascetic, determined artistry.
The good side of this is that they sound like themselves and no-one else.
The difficult side is that that takes quite some getting used to.
We’ve had time, of course. They’re consummate live players and their prior releases have been greeted warmly.
‘Almaz’ in particular came in at around the right level, hammering us with a six song slug.
This new one though may just prove to be too massive for its own good. Eleven tracks of Zhora’s music, strong as it is, is a challenge that can be hard to surmount.
As before, it all sounds like something of a rockslide; riffs and toms give the sensation of bouldering down a hill’s face, of being trapped under a constant rumble of stone.
‘Riverchrist’ takes this to amazing levels with a fast and powerful blastbeat ramping up the aggression.
More often though, Zhora’s riffs come like ideas or thoughts – never really hanging around long enough to get truly established, always wending.
You could find few tracks more aptly named than ‘Turmoil’. It’s a tundrumbalind of clusterfuck swirling in opposite rotations upside your head. Hard to get a grip on, but thrilling for it.
At the same time, it can become pretty oppressive. Two seven minute tracks, ‘The Breach’ and ‘Jettatura’ back to back is a big, big ask.
I keep coming back to a comparison with Neurosis’ ‘Through Silver In Blood’ not because this album sounds like it, but because it’s so dense, so air-suckingly demanding to get through.
There is plenty of variety: that pulsing bass and off-beat, jazzed up drumming in ‘The Breach’ is wonderful, while the scent of Meshuggah’s more atmospheric wailing lead lines hangs over it too. For an instant anyway.
Vocal variety comes out in spades too, while the particular woody tone of the drums lends its own tribal aspect.
Zhora though are their own tribe with their own ideas, and I do find I cant always keep up. The constant skronk and shuffle, deviation upon deviation, is a massive challenge over these long, staccato tracks.
They are an absolutely admirable and intriguing group, but I do feel there needs to be just the slightest extra concession to the everyman listener to make these tracks more satisfying.
More power to them, however, for pursuing their singluar vision, especially how far its taken them to the festivals and beyond.
3.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 14/11/17