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Zaum - Oracles Award winner

by Tim Bolitho-Jones at 11 August 2014, 5:12 PM

Let’s face it, when post-metal heroes ISIS split back in 2010, they left a gaping hole in the underground that no band has quite managed to fill. On the basis of “Oracles” however, Canadian duo ZAUM (what a great name!) could be the ones to rise to the occasion and become the new face of multi-layered, progressive doom. They’re not a carbon copy of Aaron Turner’s mob, but they have a similar skill in building vast expanses of pure sonic power and if you’re looking for something that captures the vibe of “Oceanic” all over again, ZAUM could well be your new favourite band.

Perhaps the most striking thing about “Oracles” is the total absence of guitars. That’s right; no power chords, no riffing, no distorted passages of any kind and while there have been plenty of bands to discard axe-slinging before (hello PALEHORSE), ZAUM’s biggest curveball is using a sitar instead. This results in a distinct, Middle-Eastern atmosphere right from the very first note and at times it’s so evocative, you can practically feel the sand blowing in swirls round your feet.

Despite only having four tracks, “Oracles” is a long, shroomed out journey through a psychedelic wasteland and it’s very easy to lose an entire day listening to it on repeat. The slow, apocalyptic grind of “Zealot” must be what being trapped in a car with Hunter S. Thompson in the shadow of the pyramids feels like and “The Peasant Of Parthia” is a turbulent, bass-heavy jaunt through a Hari Krishna’s nightmares.

In fact it’s the bass that really brings this whole album together as without it, ZAUM could quite happily fit onto one of the side stages at Glastonbury playing eclectic rhythms to people doing yoga. The deep, pummelling lines of those four fat strings result in some beautifully heavy moments and add to the oppressive, mystical air.

All of which serves to make “Oracles” an excellent debut from a very exciting new band. Canada hasn’t made a huge mark on doom before and it is a bit strange that music so massively invested in curved daggers and hookahs should come from the same place as NICKLEBACK, but don’t let that dissuade you. ZAUM are, in a word, brilliant and if they keep making music this good, it’s hard not to imagine them following in the same hallowed footsteps as NEUROSIS, BORIS or SUNN 0))). Highly recommended.

4 Star Rating

1. Zealot
2. The Red Sea
3. Peasant Of Parthia
4. Omen
Kyle Alexander McDonald – Vocals, Bass, Sitar, Synth
Christopher Lewis - Drums
Record Label: I Hate Records


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