A great deal can change for a band over the course of seven years, as was the case for CZAR; with the trio of Jason Novak, Brian Elza, and Dan Brill now separated by distance and the inevitable vagaries and responsibilities of life, it seems that Gore en Regalia is to be the band’s final musical offering. Collecting the whole of CZAR’s remaining material recorded in the years since 2013’s No One Is Alone If No One Is Alive, this album is a bittersweet affair to be sure, but rarely does a band get to make so grand and powerful an exit as this.
As complex and mathematical as ever, CZAR presents not only some of the most sonically crushing, but also the most harmonically engaging music in the field of experimental metal, and while it would be a mistake to attribute that solely to Brill’s percussive prowess, it’s difficult for one’s ears to not zero in on it. Throughout the album, he moves effortlessly through complicated time signatures and polyrhythms as easily as a fish swims in water, and to call it impressive would be no small understatement; however, his skills also call attention to the abilities of Novak and Elza to match their drummer with riffs and phrases that are as melodic as they are forceful, leaving just enough space in the mix for the listener to barely breathe amid the suffocating onslaught. For example, “Bad Apples” presents an arrangement of staccato beats with howls of distorted sustain, the guitars full of pitch-bent fluidity that is at once disconcerting and enticing. Topping it off are Novak’s incendiary vocals, oscillating between vicious growls and impassioned melodicism in a manner that not only reminds of the later years of Acumen Nation, but also bears a resemblance to Chino Moreno’s heavier moments in Deftones. Also intrinsic to CZAR’s sound are the touches of lush ambient keyboards to augment the metal assault, like in the transition from “I Sing the Bloody Electric” to “Tiresius,” which, like the cold and meditative passages of “Spontaneous Human Combustion,” recall the wintery aural bliss of Fawn. Similar is the outro of “Meat Raffle,” a chorale of celestial synths seamlessly traveling into “Cabin Still” as a procession of piano, bass, and searing sound design ushers in the final knife thrust that is “Flight of the Ortolon.”
“Never say never,” so the saying goes, and given the conveniences of modern technology, it’s not impossible that CZAR may return one day in some other form. But if Gore en Regalia is to be the ultimate end for this group… oh, what a finely crafted display of beauty and brutality.