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Root - "Zjeveni (reissue)" (CD)

Root - "Zjeveni (reissue)" CD cover image

"Zjeveni (reissue)" track listing:

1. Intro (1:48)
2. Zjeveni (4:34)
3. Aralyon (3:09)
4. Výslech (1:16)
5. Upálení (4:04)
6. Písen Pro Satana (2:49)
7. 666 / 666 (2:55)
8. 7 cerných jezdcu (3:03)
9. Demon (3:10)
10. Znameni (3:33)
11. Cesta zkázy (6:33)
12. Hrbitov (3:47)
13. Dogra’s Empire (2:58)
14. Volání o pomoc (Live) (4:06)
15. Upáleni (Live) (3:31)
16. 7 cerných jezdcu (Live) (2:19)

Reviewed by on May 16, 2010

"'Zjeveni' is an album that exists more for nostalgic purposes than anything else, as a fond remembrance for those brave yesterdays when extreme metal was still young and everything was new."

It’s hard to believe that a full twenty years have passed by since cult underground metal act Root loosed their first full-length album on the populace of the Czech Republic. “Zjeveni” is a look back into the formative years of extreme metal, before labels like “blackened,” “melodic,” or “progressive” were even floating around in anyone’s heads. The album is rough and simplistic, but not without a certain old school charm. That charm may make it worth a trip down memory lane for anyone who watched the genre evolve and unfold first hand into the many styles of modern metal.

As the band’s first album, it shouldn’t be surprising that there is much less experimentation and polish than in later albums, like the lauded “The Temple in the Underworld” release (reviewed here). The most notable aspect of the disc is the long stretches of silence punctuated only by spoken word segments from front man Big Boss. The intro and several other tracks use this tactic, which does have a nice ominous feel due to the vocalist’s distinctive baritone rumble. Unfortunately it doesn’t stand up as well now that modern audiences expect something more.

Although Root is nominally a black or death metal band, there are very few growls or screams to be heard on the album. The vocals are occasionally low and guttural, but mostly stick to a deep chant that isn’t too far off from clean singing. Since all the lyrics are in Czech, it’s a bit of a mixed bag for English speaking audiences, as there’s no way to tell if Big Boss is really belting out Satanic invocations or if he’s reading off grandma’s lasagna recipe instead.

The generally slow moving and basic instrumentation clearly shows the original date stamp on the album. There isn’t anything technical or overly impressive to be found, but to be fair, the release date was well before either technicality or brutality were a priority in metal. A few moments do still manage to stand out however, like the acoustic guitar work on the title track that wouldn’t be out of place on a horror movie soundtrack.

There are creaking door and footstep sounds laced throughout certain segments, as though to give the impression the music is opening a doorway and letting something through. Tracks like “Upaleni” and “Cesta zkázy” do dip into faster and more head bang-worthy guitar work as well. As a re-release the album features a few bonus tracks at the end, and these head off into the more extreme side of metal. The live bonus tracks' sound quality is noticeably lessened, but it’s not actively distracting until the final song, which sounds like it may have been recorded from down the hall instead of the same room.

“Zjeveni” is an album that exists more for nostalgic purposes than anything else, as a fond remembrance for those brave yesterdays when extreme metal was still young and everything was new. Root fans can complete their collection with the album, but anyone new to the band would do well to start somewhere else.

Highs: The vocalist's baritone rumble is compelling, and it's fun to hear where metal came from.

Lows: Overall simplistic music with a few too many stretches of spoken word segments.

Bottom line: A fun trip down memory lane for Root fans, but the simplicity of the music can make it hard for modern audiences to enjoy.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 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)