Jan 2012 19

Czar - Vertical Mass GraveCzar
Category: Metal / Experimental
Album: Vertical Mass Grave
Stars: 4
Blurb: Experimental metal as gutturally proficient as it is angrily melodic, Chicago’s Czar unleash a furious helping of raw distortion and emotion.


The underground music scene is filled to the brim with musicians too creative to limit themselves to a single band or group. For Jason Novak, the industrial rock and drum & bass leanings of his previous work gave rise to a louder, more aggressive outlet: Czar. With the self-titled EP release in 2009, Novak – along with drummer Dan Brill and guitarist Brian Elza – unleashed an onslaught of progressive metal wrought with changeups in time signature and tempo akin to the experimental style of Meshuggah or The Dillinger Escape Plan. With Vertical Mass Grave, the trio offers a full-length helping of brutal yet melodic math metal that finds the band coming into its own.

While the Czar EP still held slight traces of the electronic edge of Acumen Nation, Vertical Mass Grave further distances the band from the need for artificial atmospheres, or at least to incorporate them far more subtly. Beginning with a growling bass and cries of guitar feedback and sullen melodies, “Family Crest” introduces a thunderous groove that pervades throughout the album. Similarly, “Cun” starts off with eerie reverberations akin to Acumen Nation, but quickly launches into a vicious interlaying of off-kilter rhythms and progressions topped off by intricate guitar melodies that often operate in lieu of vocals. Abundant in quintessential growls and grunts, Novak’s voice fluctuates between hovering ambience and guttural rage, such as in “Brunt” and “Writhe,” as Brill’s percussive assaults are a model of precision and complexity, particularly in the tribal rhythms that underscore “Diapers” and “Redeemer.” Elza’s and Novak’s dueling guitars create a furious tapestry of noise and aggression, yet the production is polished and the performances clean that nothing is too muddy or incoherent.

One of Czar’s greatest strengths throughout Vertical Mass Grave is the consistency of sound and style; and indeed, that is perhaps the one downside of the band. From the thrashing speed of “Scarless” to the harmonic atmosphere of “Spooling Down,” Czar never once comes up for air, and while the music is as lush as it is abrasive, there is not much diversity in tone. From start to finish, Vertical Mass Grave is a constant barrage of distortion and emotion, which can grate on those ears unequipped to handle it. That said, this album presents a band full of raw power and energy, certain to make waves in the realm of progressive and experimental metal.
Track list:

  1. Family Crest
  2. Scarless
  3. Cun
  4. Diapers
  5. Brunt
  6. Fubman Gulletter
  7. Writhe
  8. Blodeuwedd
  9. Spooling Down
  10. Redeemer

Czar Website http://cracknation.com/czar
Czar MySpace http://www.myspace.com/czarchicago
Czar Facebook https://www.facebook.com/czarchicago
Czar Bandcamp http://czarchicago.bandcamp.com
Cracknation Website http://cracknation.com
Cracknation MySpace http://www.myspace.com/cracknationrecords
Cracknation Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cracknation/285988987668
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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