Sunday, August 19, 2018

Full Length Review: ZEVIOUS Lowlands (Nefarious Industries) by Dave Wolff

Place of origin: New York City, New York, USA
Genre: Prog, jazz, metal fusion
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by: Colin Marston, Menegroth: The Thousand Caves, April 2017
Cover art by: Bryan Olson
Art direction by: Kris LoCascio
Available in digital format, streaming format and limited edition 180-gram 12" black vinyl format (200 copies)
Release date: August 17, 2018
Thanks to bands like Zevious, New York City hasn’t lost its edge for new, underivative music. If you want something modernized and enlightening created from scratch, here it is. Lowlands is my first introduction to this band, though they have been reinventing music since 2006. Twelve years is enough time to conceive something neoteric and meaningful, if one has the resourcefulness and gumption to use their time and imagination to the fullest. Zevious’ official biography says they started as a modern jazz ensemble, but deviated towards progressive rock and tech metal, improvising increasingly complex structure. The bio also cites eclectic sources of inspiration: Magma, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Meshuggah, Vijay Iyer and Ben Monder. Meeting in a huge melting pot, these influences manifest a progressive, improvisational, polymetric metal fusion that has earned the attention of Overdrive Music, Decibel, Metal Injection, Sonic Abuse, Metal Sucks and Avant Music News. It’s surprising to see how many writers understand what this triumvirate of instrumentalists set out to achieve here. But it goes to show how receptive these publications and their respective writers are. What’s special about Zevious is they have explored new territory with each album since their self-titled 2008 debut, from acoustic to power trio to polymetric to what Lowlands offers, not only thinking outside the box but tossing it aside and heading where they choose. Did I mention a healthy addition of post punk? This is where the dingy aspects of Lowlands come from, enough to add kick without becoming excessive. Avant Music News drew comparisons to King Crimson and Sonic Youth. These are good ideas to start with, but you’ll have to listen long and hard to see how far reaching the similarities to those bands are. The guitars, bass and drums alternate between being in tight sync and being slightly divergent, creating a dislocated feeling where you’re uncertain what will come next. The persistent shifting generates a hypnotic musical high, profoundly dissevering any expectation you had about Lowlands before you started listening to it. The addition of atmosphere in the guitars adds to the cognitive dissonance ensuing from the unpredictability of the songwriting, This craftsmanship strives to be unparalleled in underground music and classic prog rock alike, making for a recommended musical experiment. -Dave Wolff

Mike Eber: Guitar
Johnny DeBlase: Bass
Jeff Eber: Drums

Track list:
1. Tube Lord
2. Smear Campaign
3. Slaves of Rotor
4. Ritual Based Symmetries
5. Null Island
6. Sensor Recall
7. Slow Reach

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