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Zippo - "The Road To Knowledge" (CD)

Zippo - "The Road To Knowledge" CD cover image

"The Road To Knowledge" track listing:

01. Don Juan's Words
02. El Sitio
03. The Road To Knowledge
04. He is Outside Us
05. Chihuahua Valley
06. Ask Yourself A Question
07. Lizards Can't Be Wrong
08. El Enyerbado
09. The Smoke Of Diviners
10. Reality Is What I Feel
11. Mitote
12. Three Silver Crows
13. Diablera

Reviewed by on May 4, 2009

"Zippo have created an undeniably triumphant record, both paying homage to the lords of progressive stoner metal and making a bid for lordship themselves. "

There are times, in music, for smoke and psychedelic sunsets. There are also times for the crushing bliss of total immersion in distorted guitars and drums. With a sound consisting of an informed blend of both these styles, Zippo have created an undeniably triumphant record, both paying homage to the lords of progressive stoner metal and making a bid for lordship themselves.

Hailing from Pescara, Italy, this five-piece band channels a rapturous dark progressive trance on “The Road to Knowledge.” The musical stylings have much to do with the inspiration behind the album – Carlos Castaneda’s highly-discussed book “The Teachings of Don Juan,” about his experiences with a Yaqui Indian shaman. To get a good picture of this, imagine Mastodon jamming with Porcupine Tree main man Steven Wilson on an album in a smoke-filled warehouse in Mexico while several natives perform various sorcery rites in the center of the room. Indeed, the dark and low sides of the album are bold and focused, while the highs are bright, boomy, psychedelic, and bludgeoning.

The guitar and bass work is especially technical for stoner metal, although there aren’t any overtly technical passages. Their groove contributes much to the southern sludgy sound, recalling Down, Black Sabbath, and some Mastodon at times. This is especially noticeable on tracks like “Three Silver Crows” and “The Smoke of Diviners,” while a distinct In Flames/Opeth influence can be heard on the acoustic passages of “Reality is What I Feel” and “He is Outside Us.” The really heavy parts of the album, which are also where the progressive elements show themselves most, are on songs like “Chihuahua Valley”, “El Enyerbado”, and “Mitote.” On these, the band creates an effortlessly ebbing and flowing stream of different time signatures, passages with percussive elements, and rising musical movements. The vocal stylings range from pachydermic distorted vocal screams to harmonized clean singing and onward to eerie whispered spoken word, giving a lot of color to the sound.

Rising stars in the progressive stoner rock category, Zippo are well on their way to success with this incredible sophomore release, which was expertly recorded and mixed in Italy at Twelve Studio by Andrea Di Giambattista and Francesco Di Florio. There’s a real sense of the utilization of sonic space to this album that sets it apart from most other releases in the genre. “The Road to Knowledge” was also mastered in California at Golden Studio by John Golden (Neurosis, The Melvins, Primus). This album is a must have for fans of Mastodon, Porcupine Tree, Isis, Down, and Pelican.

Highs: Bludgeoning stoner groove, fat and clear production, sustained intensity, sense of space in the music, and powerful low points.

Lows: The vocals could be a bit louder in the mix.

Bottom line: This a shining chunk of great progressive stoner metal/rock for fans of Mastodon, Porcupine Tree, Isis, and Pelican.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)