Sheffield post-metal trio, Gozer, made the SBR Top 7 Debut albums of 2022 with the release of An Endless Static. We described it as ‘a fascinating debut record tormented by anxiety and the pain of false hope.’ Reborn in the Covid lockdowns from the ashes of sludge metallers, Archelon, the trio’s approach to art is organic – let it go where it needs to go rather than engineer it to a pre-conceived idea of what it ought to be. Their new EP continues this evolution and reminds you that minimalism can often be the most enlightening path.
Opening mood piece, ‘The Beginning’, sets the scene with an unnerving synth drone and a second layer of electronic clouds swishing through the mix like an approaching virus. You can hear the fear in your breath as you look over your shoulder. Where will the danger come from when your surroundings are so hostile to all but nocturnal creatures? The power chords land like sacks of wheat on human necks when they ramp up the distortion on ‘Celestial River’. Hi-hats count your imminent appointment with a harsh reality before the first doom riff establishes its dominant presence. A digitised soprano gasp loops in the mix like a faint trace of mercury intake, but it could also be a pan flute slowed down by two octaves. Gozer’s approach to metal is more of a rumination than a ruination. Vocals bulge from the neck like golf balls. Listen to the cymbal crashes accent the thick power chords as if coating electric cables in rubber. Yet in the background you can hear a dual harmony of monkish overtone chanting.
Gozer don’t do riffs. Their guitars saunter like gas leaks. You’d think somebody commissioned John Carpenter to write a new soundtrack for The World at War in ‘Gone Away’. Here, static vibrations zap in the background as a synth chord deliberates in the shadows like a killer with a human conscience. It will remind you of The Cure in the Seventeen Seconds era but with the fortitude of Cult of Luna hoping to overcome the PTSD. Closing track, ‘Where the River Meets the Ocean’, is what Gojira’s members might produce on their next album, in one of their quieter moments, if they swap the sandals and tambourines for boots and fingerless gloves. A delicate acoustic guitar passage sparkles like a low-battery torch. Laser gun effects flash at the beginning of each bar for the main riff at 03:25 as if filling the room like a smoke bomb. Is that a faint violin in the background? The vocals show a reluctance to take the initiative, but that’s the point of introspective music. Uncertainty and doubt pervade. Aggression is a last resort, but it fizzes like a murderous instinct when you choose the former in a fight or flight moment.
The Path Always Leads to the End is a sixteen-minute journey you’ll want to repeat. It’s an undertaking with many meanders and danger points, but the rewards are high for those that complete the expedition.
Release Date: 02/11/2023
Record Label: Self-released
Standout track: Celestial River, Gone Away
Suggested Further Listening: Cult of Luna – The Raging River EP (2021), Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin (2022), Vorder – False Haven (2023)