A monstrous, world-class effort of Australian progressive metal.
This reviewer is absolutely a sucker for a concept record. The absence of originality and genuine inspiration in heavy music today can leave some releases feeling… well, uninspired. And a good remedy for this stale state of affairs is to pair a unique creative vision with a heavy, head-banging template. Perth’s Sanzu certainly don’t need a jump-start in this regard. Releasing their Painless EP in April earlier this year, the progressive metal outfit combined harmonious lyrical imagery with a love for all things groove-oriented, and then sprinkled it with hits of brutal death metal. This certainly made for a pleasing listen, and now barely taking a respite, the group is sneaking in their second release for 2015: the début full-length album, ‘Heavy Over The Home’.
With a record like this one, the mental cogs begin to whirr before you even hit the play button, spurred to life by such an enigmatic title and eye-catching artwork. However, when the first notes of ‘Old Orchard Floor’ ring through your ear holes, you know that you've buckled up for an interesting ride. Sanzu cultivate a listening experience, which serves as a veritable smorgasbord of modern metal: from chugging grooves ('Phenomena' and 'Those Who Sleep In The East'), flavours of technical death metal (the title track and 'The Chill') and bursts of progressive thrash, to tasty elements of doom ('Ubiety') and melody ('Loss'). Across these tracks, the concoction on offer will come across as familiar in some respects, and an observant listener will find the shadows of influential groups like Decapitated, Gojira, Intronaut and Devin Townsend Project lingering in the background. But to Sanzu’s credit, nothing about ‘Heavy Over The Home’ sounds recycled or regurgitated—instead this mixture comes off as a genuine melting pot of fresh ideas, making for a fierce new brew.
The performance of vocalist Zachary Andrews is equally impressive (like the piercing mid-section of ‘Tailor’ for example), with his robust use of vicious highs, bottomless lows and a particularly raspy mid-range. His vocals retain a measure of intelligibility that pairs well with the slow, rumbling heaviness from guitarist Jarod 'Century' and bassist Fatima Curley, or the unrelenting mayhem of skinsman Ben Stanley and the subtle thrash tendencies of guitarist Mikey Hart. The clarity of Andrews’ delivery also aids the lyrical concepts on ‘Heavy Over The Home’, with each track discussing facets of the great ‘cosmic tantrum’: a reflection on the human condition, linking back to the godly protagonist of the incredible album artwork and exploring themes of existentialism, selfishness, entitlement, gross materialism and rampant environmental neglect.
On ‘Heavy Over The Home’, clever progressive elements collide with the ferocity and savagery of traditional death metal, allowing Sanzu to craft make one of the most invigorating and engaging records this year, locally or otherwise. We’ve already seen some huge Australian releases in 2015, and with Sanzu being perhaps only the latest to weigh in, it seems that our calibre of world-class metal groups is thankfully alive and well from coast to coast.
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1. Old Orchard Floor
5. Those Who Sleep In The East
7. Heavy over the Home
8. The Chill