Jun 2024 30

Album CoverREZN
Album: Burden
Category: Doom / Post-Metal / Shoegaze
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: 2024-06-14
Author: Duke Togo (Golgo13)

This Chicago quartet has been garnering quite a bit of acclaim for its cosmic and psychedelic take on doom metal, with elements that have even been likened to shoegaze. Burden sees REZN treading darker territory than 2022’s Solace, pursuing a sound akin to post-metal without necessarily falling into the trappings of the genre… at least, that was the idea. For the most part, the album is successful, if primarily because REZN’s sound is pretty firmly established already with the varying qualities of oppressively distorted dirges and melodic, celestial atmospheres. What really strikes hardest is how the band endows moments of tranquility and relative stillness with an eerie, disquieting dread, almost to the point of hostility. For instance, the lyrics to “Instinct” could be construed as being self-referential as the listener travels “so slow” down unending, labyrinthian passages in the verses, Rob McWilliams’ sparsely ringing guitar phrases and Spencer Ouellette’s floaty and entrancing synths trickling like droplets in the miasmal haze; then the monolithic chorus enters, McWilliams’ harmonized vocals belying the sharpened panic of “Hanging onto the razor’s edge.” Shades of sludge and doom heroes Electric Wizard and Daylight Dies darken the appropriately titled “Bleak Patterns,” the introductory guitar leads almost like a languid bolero, while “Soft Prey” feels almost Floydian with a tempo and tone sure to remind some of earlier sonic sojourns like “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” or “Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun,” Ouellette decorating the track with some lovely lap steel and saxophone. “Chasm” is probably the most overtly metal track on Burden for its guttural riff, Mike Sullivan of Russian Circles lending a screeching angular solo, while the rhythm section of bassist Phil Cangelosi and drummer Patrick Dunn relentlessly punches through the speakers. Speaking honestly, it’s a shame for this writer to come into REZN’s music at this later stage because Burden has those precious traces of all the band has crafted before, but taken to a harsher direction that going backward will perhaps stifle some of the wonder inherent in tracking their evolution… but oh well. It isn’t to suggest that one must follow a chronological path in order to appreciate REZN or to fully grasp the heavier characteristics of Burden. Au contraire, this is a band that merits, even demands deeper listening, and you’ll be glad that you did.
Track list:

  1. Indigo
  2. Instinct
  3. Descent of Sinuous Corridors
  4. Bleak Patterns
  5. Collapse
  6. Soft Prey
  7. Chasm

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Sargent House
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