Tuesday, May 28, 2013

… The Inevitability of Doom: ZEPPHEROIN “Howl” (Album Review)

Zeppheroin is a one man band from London and I suppose there are distinct advantages to taking this approach to personnel, or lack thereof.  For one thing, there’s no lobbying for a drastic change in direction when new influences take hold.  Anything you want to do as a one man band, you just do it, best you can. 
You walk down the street with your hands in your pockets, all alone.  No one can help you.  What you must do, must be done alone.  You are doomed.

Zeppheroin began life as an industrial punk / post-rock project, with a Joy Division influence and Lennonesque elements with talk of “Working Class Messiah”s and such.  One can’t help but smile when listening to Zeppheroin’s latest, it’s a departure to be sure.  If you listen to Zeppheroin’s first offering, 2011’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, his next release, 2012’s ‘Naked Lunch’ and this latest EP, ‘Howl’, back to back to back, the picture that is painted is one of a risk taker.

You cross the street, it’s coming.  You look both ways before crossing, doesn’t matter it’s on its way.  You are doomed.

But to me, I can’t help but smile and think about the irresistibility and inevitability of doom.  It’s inescapable.  From his bandcamp page:

“Still drawing upon my holy scripture of hardcore aggression and noise rock discordance, I have slowly been drawn into the fetid depths of Riff worship - the slower the better.

Elements of Doom are now apparent but with my needles in-the-red recording technique still favouring slabs of distortion rather than clarity or production, it is still lo-fi and rough as fuck.

All Hail The Riff!”

That quote kind of sums it up and says it all right there, doesn’t it?  Puts a smile on the face.  ‘Howl’ is three songs long and 18 minutes wide, giving it more inches around the waist than the 16 minute hardcore tinged ‘Naked Lunch’s 7 songs combined.  Maybe that’s the joy of doom right there.  While we may be rushing around our whole lives in a techno punk nightmare, the doom allows us to slow things down and take our time.  Somehow, when that happens, time itself slows and what time we have is more appreciated or at least put to better use.

You pick up a paper and it’s sprawled across every headline.  It hangs over your head like the sword of Damocles.  It wants to embrace you, fold you in its arms, and wrap around you like a shroud.  Man, you are doomed!

Anyway, ‘Howl’s doomed approach is quite a ways away from ‘Atrocity Exhibition’.  It seems like, once you get a taste of doom, there’s no going back.  To Zeppheroin’s credit, he wears the patched denim of doom like a warrior born.  Minor tweaking and adjustments to the vocals deliver a flawed but flawless doom vocal performance in a Wino or Karl Simon style.  Opening track “Black Colossus” may very well have seen the one-man behind this band trade in his Grant Morrison comics for some Robert E. Howard paperbacks.  Whatever he’s done to prepare for his first foray into howling doom, he’s done it well.  For my money, this one and the last track, “Fabricated Heroism” really hit the mark. 

But, in the end, you feel no embrace.  You are all alone.  The doom is a spectre and what you must do, must be done alone.  After all, there’s only one thing to do when you are so doomed. 

If what you’re looking for is something to innovate and push the genre into bold new directions, well keep searching.  For those with a voracious appetite for all things slow and heavy, something that’s more than just a little bit out of the ordinary, then listen, feast your ears on this EP.  I for one will be watching this band, to see what comes next. 

In the end, nothing can save you.  You are trapped in an endless vortex with no way out, save one.  You can either doom or be doomed.  You know what must be done.  You must turn the tables and embrace the doom.

words by Lucas Klaukien 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this great review - and you are right, when doom creeps into your life, it seems very hard to shake off!