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Zoroaster - "Matador" (CD)

Zoroaster - "Matador" CD cover image

"Matador" track listing:

1. D.N.R.
2. Ancient Ones
3. Odyssey
4. Trident
5. Firewater
6. Old World
7. Black Hole
8. Odyssey II
9. Matador

Reviewed by on February 14, 2011

"'Matador' suffers incredibly from sub-par vocal work, and on this album the vocals are further hindered by poor layering effects and space-like tendencies."

It’s a shame when one minor detail can ruin such a great record. Although in this case what starts out as a minor issue snowballs into a terrible mess. It may seem harsh, but it’s not easy to avoid the problem that plagues Zoroaster's "Matador." It’s not to say the music itself is bad, because the band has written some of the best riff metal released this decade and "Matador" is no exception to the band's riff dominance. But unlike the band’s other releases in the past, "Matador" suffers incredibly from sub-par vocal work, and on this album the vocals are further hindered by poor layering effects and space-like tendencies.

The vocals on "Matador" aren't as bothersome in the beginning of the record, but as the album drags on they grow ever more, well, annoying. Simply put, the vocals completely take away from the power of the band's infamous riff style. Each track on the album is impacted by this issue and while the style may appeal to those into space-rock and more psychedelic forms of music, it lessens of the effect of each song's monstrous tone and heavy riffage. Unlike the previous record "Voice of Saturn," which was actually a rather impressive spin, the vocals do not vary and they maintain a dreary tone for the entire duration.

So while "Matador" certainly isn't a step back for the band it is also no leap forward. Existing fans of the band will, with no doubt, enjoy the album in its fullest. Everything Zoroaster is known for can be found within. Tracks like "Trident" are a definite high point in retrospect, with its short and more aggressive atmosphere and tiny, but ever so prominent, guitar solos. "Black Hole" is another impressive song that, despite its vocal issues, provides a heavy and catchy sludge metal track.

On the other-hand, people who are new to the band might mistakenly write Zoroaster off based on the record's pitfalls. With Zoroaster's hard work ethic, despite being stoner metal heroes, it’s clear that the band is far from done and will continue its trend of trying to one-up its own monster riffs of old. With a few tweaks to the vocals the next record is due to be incredible.

Highs: As what is expected from Zoroaster; the riffs are intense.

Lows: Poor vocals take away from the overall impact of the music.

Bottom line: Fans of Zoroaster and psychedelic rock should enjoy this album, others may be less than impressed with its one-tone vocal approach.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)