Album of the Month

The debut full-length from Greek band Automaton is weighty, sludgy, coffin-lid-slamming Doom perfection.
(Read more)

Random band

While focusing on vast, spacelike drones in the vein of Hyatari, Echoes of Yul still present a multi faceted take on the doom/drone subgenre. Here...
(read more)

Zatokrev : Zatokrev (Remaster)

Zatokrev's excellent debut gets a very cool 15-year anniversary remastered vinyl release.

Now, this really is nice: a proper vinyl re-release of the very first Zatokrev venture dating back to 2004. Not a million miles removed from the original demo, or its subsequent re-release through both Code:Breaker and Earache as a CD pressing, should you be lucky enough to have a copy of either limited edition. As it happens, I do, and this version is still a particularly cool addition to that slice of history, coming as it does in a stylish new gatefold. The cover is a grayscale of the original rear CD art, there's a slightly different running order, the inner information skips most of the lyrics, 'C Through' has been renamed, and the whole thing's been remastered.

I'll digress just a little here - I'm no vinyl snob or retro- hipster. I grew up pre-CD, never mind pre-streaming, so I'm painfully aware that the 'audiophile' arguments of modern-day purists really didn't stand up to the reality of playing secondhand albums or cassette tapes on cheap kit because that was all you had and all you could afford. For those of us on a budget, CDs were - frankly - an audio godsend, whatever early limitations of AAD remasters and sometimes dodgy manufacturing quality came into play. The downside - if it can really be called that - came later. CDs were extremely portable, digital streams doubly so; these days you can listen to them pretty much anywhere, any time, on anything from phone to PC to mp3 player to internet-connected whatever. And that very ubiquity both expands and cheapens the experience: music as wallpaper, wherever you go, whatever else you're doing, whatever cheap and tinny means of reproduction is at hand.

So, ironically, having come full circle, what I actually like best about modern-day vinyl is its cumbersome, manual nature. It isn't a convenient format, you can't realistically play it on anything except a proper hi-fi, and the comparatively brief periods of music between flipping sides don't facilitate distraction - other than, perhaps, perusing the full-size cover package. Which makes it something of a sanity break: a genuine, dedicated, sit-down listening experience on real big-wattage gear.

Of course, that only yields rewards if what you're listening to justifies taking the time out to give it a genuine and full hearing. Happily 'Zatokrev' does exactly that. Maybe if you'd spent the '90s listening to Neurosis, et al, it wouldn't have had quite the same impact - but since I pretty much skipped all of that, Zatokrev were actually one of my first conduits into the furious, sludgy Post-Metal vibe, and the way they bridged that into somewhat avantgarde Death/Doom grabbed my attention as both exciting and innovative. So, I still have a considerable soft spot for this, and 'Bury The Ashes', and how they set out their interplay between the leather-lunged vocals of frontman Fredy Rotter and the spacious power-trio format of the instrumental contributions.

Obviously, the band have gone on to refine and evolve their sound since that point, but 'Zatokrev' was altogether a mature, atmospheric and assured starting point. To the point where it's hard to believe it's actually a fifteen-year anniversary version of a debut that was originally only intended to be a promo: it's survived both time and relative inexperience largely unscathed, proving Earache and associated labels were absolutely right to offer deals for it in the first place. The only misstep, in my opinion, is the four-odd minutes of aimlessly invariant feedback which close 'Fourem' - I really didn't see the value of that back in the day, and I still don't see it now. But, leaving that minor gripe aside, there's very little else to fault. The blend of semi-tribal drumming, guitars that range from pulsating spaciness to heavy, groovy riffing, and crooning, snarling, shrieking vocals still has a compelling vitality and atmosphere - making it both nostalgically familiar and contemporarily relevant.

All of which is, I guess, as reasonable a definition of a classic album as any you might want. It's nice to have the original CD - with its double bonus of all the lyrics and a live video of the title track - alongside the more enigmatic yet stylish LP, covering both the old and the new in subtly different ways. The vinyl remastering, to my ears, sounds like it's got just a tweak more heft and bass to it, though that may just be a by-product of the analogue conversion and equipment used. I generally need a couple more notches on the amp for vinyl compared to CD, so it's not an absolute like-for-like comparison. Either way, though, both sound punchy, clear, and powerful.

So, as far as I'm concerned, this is well worth the investment, and - for all the reasons above - in some respects a more suitable and more enjoyable way to renew acquaintance with an album that really does deserve its anniversary dusting-off. Actually, while on the subject of nostalgia, listening to it at an appropriately antisocial volume calls back to mind the experience of seeing Zatokrev live on a warm and pleasant evening in Zürich a few years back. Though it doesn't quite recreate the absolutely chest-crushing bass vibes of the concert, it sure does evoke the intensity of it. Cool. So, if you've got the kit to give it a decent airing...what are you waiting for? Go for it.

Click HERE to discuss this review on the doom-metal forum.

Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Reveal
2. Fourem
3. See Through
4. Alive
5. ...Zato Krev

Duration : Approx. 39 minutes

Visit the Zatokrev bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-05-20 by Mike Liassides
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com