A rousing and impassioned crossing of the auld new wave and well-reinvigorated first wave of black metal sounds Göteborg, Sweden-based quartet Zatyr debut their wicked streak of wave-bending traditional heavy metal with this sharp first-born EP, now materialized in physical form by way of Dying Victims Productions eight months beyond its initial digital self-release. Tortured and vengeful in its dark rumination ‘Ornament of Proposition’ is a brief but shockingly memorable thrill to behold — It’ll stick in the mind of the devout for its moon-gazing Satanic heavy metal perspective but appeal to all heavy metal enthusiasts by way of summoned fire to flesh, their blood-slicked leads and existentially cross vocals. Youthful sacrifice grants strength to the grand apparition; They fuel the great deceiver with their forlorn first breath.
No question about it, the blackened heavy metal space is a crowded room in a time of social distance and the only way forward for any band hoping to live through it is with catchy as Hell music that sticks to the soul, as comfort food or brutal curse — Zatyr are a bit of both. Balk at the crowd as this EP of thier spins, as these Swedes’ve written hooks, catchy traditional heavy metal standards warped with freshened NWOBHM spiritus and growled out blackened vocals when the mood strikes. It strikes to the already rotten bone as soon as “Forbidden Rites” swings in, reminding me of Virtue‘s “Fool’s Gold” momentarily before Bewitcher, Aggressive Perfector, and Pulver became more meaningful comparisons for the general reach beyond the lament of NWOBHM’s most existential nihilists. This is reinforced by the, generally speaking, rough-but-melodic Tank-meets-Mercyful Fate roll of ‘Ornament of Proposition’ and it shouldn’t take more than the Algy Ward circa ’87 croon of “Fire Prophecy” to tap into Zatyr‘s most exemplar potentiate.
Melodic duties are well shared between the aforementioned NWOBHM-enriched guitar work and soulful-but-willing-to-growl it out vocals from Set (ex-Devil Lee Rot). Riffing is percussive, intricately whittled, but still melodic heavy metal with a raw first wave black metal edge. None of it is tastelessly rasped or slung but instead snarled with passion that never steps beyond 1984 or so despite Zatyr‘s more gnashing moments. Gotham City‘s ‘The Unknown’ comes to mind when the leads are flinging about and the speed is pushing but, sure, Zatyr is heavier than that’d suggest and they’re cognizant of modern throwback heavy metal too; We’re not reaching (early) Black Magic levels of push a la ‘Show No Mercy’ heaviness. For my own taste the linchpin of the EP ends up being the promising sway of “I Hear Her Calling”, a song that begins to suggest Zatyr could potentially handle themselves within an “epic” piece, or that their sound could push into several directions from here to doom and beyond. That said, when flipping over to the bonus track “Heart and Vision” I’d been somewhat confused as to its place on the EP. The core melody and main riff rolls out as if they were an 80’s metal cover of an ‘Elegy’-era Amorphis song and no doubt this odd point of association comes from a shift in the vocal tone and a few tricks tossed about. I liked the extra song though I wasn’t sure if “Heart and Vision” had been from the same session or if it was a newer song indicating a shift in tone going forward. These are formative years for the band either way and impressive all the same.
‘Ornament of Proposition’ sells itself with memorable, melodic, evil heavy metal delivered with plenty of harmonized leads. Its first official physical release is reason well enough to celebrate the haunting first breath from this promising band. I’d not heard of the project back in 2019 so this was a joy to discover anew and is admittedly one of the only May releases that’d manage to get a song or two stuck in my head after the cans came off. A moderately high recommendation.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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