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Czar - "Czar" (CD/EP)

Czar - "Czar" CD/EP cover image

"Czar" track listing:

1. Depthless Paradise of Terror
2. In Defense of Pluto
3. Goregon Trail
4. Slave to Evacuation
5. Above.Below

Reviewed by on July 29, 2009

"This is 24 minutes of spacey, luxurious, and melodically sensible metal you won’t want to miss."

Czar’s self-titled EP stalks like a Resident Evil creature, runs like a soldier through a minefield, and explodes with meteoric force at times. This is sure to be one of the most exciting EP releases of the year, and hints at even more powerful future offerings. With touches of Mastodonic riffing, melodic movements that would make Fear Factory proud, exploratory guitar work akin to that of Daylight Dies, and expertly tight drumming capped with very flattering production, Czar’s EP is as engulfing as an imploding star.

The first track, “Depthless Paradise of Terror,” showcases the brute force of Czar’s heavy riffing, complex guitar chordings, and tight in-the-pocket metal drumming. The backing synthesizers are stuck well enough in the background to give a daunting and mysterious space to the sound, as if one were overlooking a massive gorge on some distant planet or looking out into the fathomless vastness of space. Just past the middle of the song, and through a big buildup, the instrumentation opens up and reveals an intense melodic height before winding down into a fitting dark end.

“In Defense of Pluto” finds Czar treading the path of Mastodon, but with the same notion to differentiate from the typical melodic route. The midsection reveals a generous Fear Factory influence, with pedal-toned lower notes and higher-stringed notes that ring out behind them. The coordination between drum and guitar work throughout the songs is quite admirable and the musicians continuously show their abilities in an understated manner. “Goregon Trail,” as cheese ball funny as the title may be, has considerable highs as well, especially in the vocal realm. The vocals are layered with effects, but have an otherworldly eerie feel akin to the vocals of Meshuggah’s Tomas Haake,

“Slave to Evacuation” brings in more of the aforementioned eerie vocals, coupled with a faster pace and meteoric heaviness. “Above.Below,” the final track, begins with a sludge-type riff tinged with the atmospheric beauty of more Fear Factory influence of the “Dark Bodies” era, which continues on through most of the song. Fusion-style drumming akin to that of Mastodon is present through much of this.

On the whole, this EP has the depth of a major album and the sound is more organized and mature than most bands could hope for. This EP is an essential listen for fans of understated technical progressive metal and carries considerable force even without many vocals. The sonic elements in the background are also noteworthy for discerning listeners. I’ll be damned if my favorite album of 2009 isn’t even a full album, but this EP. This is 24 minutes of spacey, luxurious, and melodically sensible metal you won’t want to miss.

Highs: Inventive chord structures and melodic movements, tight and natural production, murderously effected vocals, and incredible drumming.

Lows: You’d be hard-pressed to find a low point here.

Bottom line: The most impressive debut EP I've ever heard in metal.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)