zhOra – 'Ethos, Pathos, Logos' (Self-Released) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Rich Hobson   
Friday, 03 November 2017 04:00

zhOra artworkSludge metal might find its spiritual home in the swamps and bayous of rural southern state USA, but that doesn’t mean four riff-hungry lads from Clonmel can’t get elbow deep in the primordial ooze of one of metal’s most punishing subgenres… Hailing from Clonmel, zhOra draws its mess less from the swamp and more from the peaty bog, invoking the same spirit of heavy nastiness whilst sticking a fresh twist on the genre. It’s sludge metal Jim – but not as we know it.

 

See, zhOra boast the affixed ‘prog’ tag to their sludge beats and while that might usually be code for ‘a bit of fret wankery on tracks two and three, an instrumental to close’, zHora have really dredged up some left field influences for Ethos, Pathos, Logos. The piano on opening track ‘The Stone’ brings to mind more the icy tones of Scandinavian black metal, whilst the slow and rhythmic drum-led accompaniment (along with clean vocal) brings to mind the exceptional intro track to Sepultura’s latest release Machine Messiah, right down to the sudden dip into the lake of fire the track takes on its second half.

 

Not beholden to trying to imitate the NOLA or Louisiana sludge sound, zhOra take a groovier beatdown route which brings to mind the aforementioned Brazillian bruisers a lot, particularly in the interplay between calamitous guitarwork and bone rumbling drum beats. Chuck in a black metal style blast beat (complete with howling guitar) and you start building the picture of a band who have loaded their plate with a lot of great metal tropes, mixing them together seamlessly for a delicious end product.

 

In fact, while the tar-thick tone of sludge is most definitely present in 'Ethos, Pathos, Logos', the band tend to delve into much faster, more mosh-friendly material than you might expect given their genre tag. ‘Sin Eater’ acts a perfect example of the band’s voracious appetite for pace-shifts and pure, all-out heaviness, the track opening with a vicious death metal pummel, switching to jangly noise rock riffing before building to a very black metal wall of noise to crescendo, cooling off with some (comparatively) relaxing post metal vibes.

 

There are no doubts which side of the musical divide zhOra butter their bread – this is a metal band through and through, a fact well reflected in the band’s appearances at both Bloodstock and Wacken festivals (undoubtedly the crown of Euro metal fests). Abrasive noise is the order of the day where zhOra tread, the band peddling some serious fury in every note, drum beat and growled vocal. Vocally, zhOra take an approach which draws on influences as disparate as death metal, thrash and straight-ahead sludge growls, creating a striking effect whenever a rare melodic vocal shines through.

 

Between oppressive, apocalyptic drums and shrieking guitars you’ll find plenty of bombast throughout the album’s hour long run time. The different styles appropriated throughout are utilised well, given a basic sonic identity by the band that means no sound becomes incongruous when put alongside the rest of the elements. The band make use of song lengths well; an epic seven-minute-plus beatdown like ‘Jettalura’ is chased by the snarled shortie ‘Infernal Liturgy’, only for the band to pick things back up with a five minute smorgasbord of riffs in ‘Turmoil’, a track which brings to mind early Melvins material.

 

 

Unlike many long-play albums,’ Ethos, Pathos, Logos’ doesn’t lose steam after the halfway mark – in fact, if anything the album really picks up towards its final moments, the final three punch assault of ‘Earth’d’, ‘Server, Seer, Soothsayer’ and ‘’Tabula Rasa’ offering some late-game highlights. The lack of discernible singles (even within metal parameters) will make this a difficult listen if you’re just after some instant delivery metal anthems or singles. Instead ‘Ethos, Pathos, Logos’ offers some solid efforts in metal nastiness, a powerful record which proves you don’t need to kowtow to genre clichés or regional styles to produce something which is familiar yet fresh.

 

Only two albums in, zhOra are proving themselves to be a band well worth keeping an eye on, taking confident strides in exploring new sonic boundaries whilst developing a sound that is completely their own. With the metal world getting behind bands who are willing to experiment and push boundaries, zhOra may have found the perfect time to bring their brand of progressive sludge metal to the party.

 

‘Ethos, Pathos, Logos’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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