"The Bat, The Wheel and The Long Road To Nowhere"

By Dr. Abner Mality

There is not an avalanche of metal bands coming from Switzerland, but the ones I've encountered have all been pretty interesting. Now I add Zatokrev to that list. This band combines angry sludge with experimental post-metal in a way that is extremely appealing and avoids the worst aspects of each genre.

The initial attack of Zatokrev is thick and lava-like sludge riffing with a direct and simple feel, revealed in the opening to songs like "Goddam Lights" and "Medium". But as each lengthy song unfolds, melodies and experimentation begin to arise...not in a way that overtakes the sludge, but which compliments it. The excellent opening cut "Goddam Lights" is hammering, nasty and filthy, with a very "spiky" sounding guitar sound, but the sadness gradually increases as the track goes on and the ending is powerfully melodic, with layers built up on that original bludgeoning feel. "Medium" has much the same kind of opening but the mid-section has a long section of abstract, abrasive noise ala Khanate before returning to the original riff in devastating fashion. It goes without saying that the vocals are painful screaming, that's de rigeur for this stuff.

The tunes are long but Zatokrev knows just when to pull the plug. Only "Medium" comes close to the breaking point. The ten minute plus "Angels of Cross" makes great use of an apocalyptic rumbling in the background to add the feeling of approaching doomsday. And some tracks, like "The Bat", are just flat out sludge monsters...this last cut is a virtual template of how to do a dragging, doomy, depressing metal song.

This is certainly one of the sludge highlights of 2012 and those into the heavier side of post-metal/slowcore music will also find it a worthy purchase.