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Forest Worshiping Black Metal - 67%

TheStormIRide, May 29th, 2013

Zinumm is a fairly active project from the Andalusia region of Spain. “Lobishome” was released 2012 and failed to receive much attention outside the borders of the Spanish speaking world, which is odd considering this release is focused on Gaelic themes and imagery. The first and most glaringly noticeable thing about this EP is the hugely enormous Ulver influence at play. Taking the acoustic passages of “Kveldssanger” at times and the intensity of “Nattens Madrigal”, Zinumm effectively recreates the forest covered themes and atmospheres of both releases. Another element thrown into the mix is the noodling yet spacey keyboard work made famous by Burzum’s early work. Fortunately for everyone, “Lobishome” keeps from being a generic rip-off by scattering some distinctive elements to the mix, but we’ll get to those.

Zinumm showcases two distinct styles here, despite there only being three tracks. “Lobishome”, the opening track, showcases a fast paced, semi-raw style of black metal, that sound inspired by “Nattens Madrigal” and forest worshiping acts like Mystic Forest and Sort Vokter. The sound quality isn’t the greatest, as everything seems infused with a little too much treble, but the intensity is quite captivating. Most of this track showcases a solid wall of sound: created by fast paced, buzzing tremolo riffing and fast paced blast beats with tinny cymbals and muffled snare hits. This wall of sound is fuzzy, muddy and impossible to find the bottom of. Honestly, nothing gets out of it. The vocals are squelched, raspy screams which, unfortunately, have little to no identity to them. Sporadic atonal chanting pops in, but is similarly lifeless and bland. “Coida de min, coida da noite” shows a complete left turn from the wall of sound constructed on the opening track. Rather than fast paced and blazing black metal, you’re greeted with a melodic acoustic guitar passage, with slowly strummed chords and sections of finger picked chords, which backs an airy flute passage and some classical guitar licks. Some minimalist percussion carries the track forward slowly and gracefully. It’s a rather jarring departure from the grating black metal of the opening track, but it serves as a rather powerful transition into the closing track.

Perhaps the acoustic interlude works so well because it gears you up for the subtle beginning of the closing track, “Ouvea, ouvea solitario (tenho lobos, tenho sombras)”, which is a slowly massing near twelve minute opus. This track showcases the wall of sound guitars, with distant and fuzzy tremolo riffing towards the rear of the mix, subtle, slow paced drumming, again to the rear of the mix, and a very prominent airy keyboard line. This Burzum-esque beginning eventually builds into a fast paced, blast beat ridden section with more prominent trem riffing. The keyboards do continue on during the fast section, being more of an epic, choral sound than the spacey noodling, but they do get rather old quick. The vocals switch between the distant screams and the atonal chanting again, but it remains rather uninspired. The track slows back down into folksy origins at the end, with the acoustic guitar picking back up, once again adding an enormous contrast to the perpetual wall of sound presented with the rest of the music.

While, I understand the wall of noise styled approach, it’s a huge distraction from the fast paced trem riffing. If you listen closely to the riffing, you can tell that there are some captivating moments of sheer chaotic melody. The static-filled background makes it difficult to focus on everything going on. When the drums build into a fast paced section, they blast away with no abandon, and there are some interesting patterns and lines, but the muffled production stunts the performance. On a long running track like “Ouvea…”, a little more variation with the keyboards could go a long, long way, especially because it sounds like the same two chords over and over again. I have a feeling that if this was given a proper production job, this would kick a lot people’s asses. There are some really captivating portions on this EP, but they require special attention and a lot of focus to get through the garbled noise. “Lobishome” should sit well with fans of early Ulver and Burzum.