There were arguments to be made for and against Zoroaster‘s 2010 E1 Music debut, Matador, but at the end of the day, I dug the record and it’s off-kilter methodology. The Atlanta trio’s third album overall, it was time for Zoroaster to shake up their approach. Last year’s Voice of Saturn saw them begin to experiment with clean vocals and more melodically-conscious songwriting, and aided by the production of Sanford Parker, Matador took that experimentation in new and innovative directions.
It’s a fascinating record, and hypnotic. If you played it for me back to back with Zoroaster‘s full-length debut, Dog Magic (2007), I wouldn’t think they were the same band, or at very least not the same personnel therein. But ultimately it may have come too quickly on the heels of Voice of Saturn, which was an honorable mention addition to last year’s top 10, as it seems like some of the material could have been developed further — the toying with traditional rock and roll guitar conventionalism on “Titan,” for example — before being put to tape.
Zoroaster are proving themselves able to produce at a consistently high quality, and Matador is a big part of that, but I’d be interested to see what came out of it if they took two years between albums instead of one again. The jump from Dog Magic to Voice of Saturn was much greater than that from Voice of Saturn to Matador, and as they’re at a pivotal point in their career — right on the verge of the bigger metal notoriety of bands like High on Fire — it’s time for them to really hunker down and start writing great songs. I hope in the future we can look back at Matador as the beginning of that process.
Tags: Atlanta, E1 Music, Georgia, Top 20 of 2010, Zoroaster