Zoroaster and the Sirens of Titan

Hear it calling.Before you even open up your copy of?Zoroaster‘s new album, Voice of Saturn (released through their own Terminal Doom Records), the Atlanta doomers let you know they’ve stepped up their game. Not only is the colorful Brian Mercer cover art of the digipak so stimulating it could cause a seizure — quite a departure from the lackluster image that graced 2007’s Dog Magic — but the sticker on the front of the wrapping boasts press quotes from Pitchfork, Decibel, and Revolver. Clearly someone wants you to know Zoroaster are kind of a big deal.

For example, I know my writeup won’t mean shit, and I’ll prove it by saying two completely ridiculous things about Voice of Saturn in press-quote format and seeing what happens. Observe:

Voice of Saturn is like a gangbang in the ear.” — The Obelisk

“The new Zoroaster album burned down my house and killed my pet goldfish before running off with all my money and spending it frivilously on women and liquor. I only forgave it because it said it changed.” — The Obelisk

See? Nothing happened. This review is meaningless.

That being the case, I’m glad to see these dudes doing well. They kill live and though Dog Magic wasn’t packed with the most memorable tunes, it wasn’t vacuous hipster metal either. Voice of Saturn ups the game a bit, adding interesting elements like a McCartney piano segment at the end of “Spirit Molecule” that works to make the song the most effective here — albeit with some sub-confident clean vocals over top that will no doubt be better presented on the next record — and the six-minute frequency onslaught of “Voice of Saturn” is anything but trying to appeal to a mass audience.

13-minute riff monster “Undying” is a steep mountain to climb, but on the downhill slope is “White Dwarf,” probably the Sleepiest track on Voice of Saturn and featuring a black metal cackling guest appearance from Mastdon‘s Brent Hinds, whose guitar solo drunkenly puts the song to bed. I was hoping for more from closer “Lamen of the Master Therion,” which follows “Voice of Saturn.” Although it’s definitely the darkest song on the record, after the overcoming the challenge of even making it through the title track, the relatively straightforward riff-and-scream approach, even with the cult druidism underneath, felt anti-climactic. Maybe bring back some of that piano to round things out — I don’t care if it’s a Moog, it sounds cool — if not go absolutely wild and introduce something else totally off the wall.

The untitled bonus track grants that wish, coupling the reprise with an acoustic guitar and windy wisps of noise blowing through before giving way to four minutes or so of silence and then a tribal-esque drum/frequency exchange that lasts for just under eight minutes. That’s not exactly the apex I was hoping for either, but at least Zoroaster are exploring different moods and not just throwing riff after doomy riff at their audience and hoping to score some decent press quotes out of it. If Dog Magic and the demo that preceded it showed such frightening potential, then Voice of Saturn only begins to capitalize on it.

That’s fine if you’re willing to wait and see what the next round holds. At some point, though, impatience is going to be a factor. Hopefully Zoroaster‘s well-threatened maturity manifests itself on album three. For now, Voice of Saturn will deserve much of the praise it gets, but even more than that, will speak yet again of the potential for bigger achievements in the future. I’m waiting to see when they come out with Zoroaster’s Holy Mountain and become the most important American doom band of their generation. If anyone’s going to do it, it’s these guys.

Doom and goofy have gone together since the days of the Black Sabbath Saturday morning cartoon. You know what I'm talking about.

Zoroaster on MySpace

Terminal Doom Records

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