Review : Zealotry - The Charnel Expanse by Metal-Observer

Updated: Jun 19

Via Metal-Observer : "More than anything, Zealotry gets death metal. This isn’t the most staunchly experimental or ripping thing you’ll hear, but Zealotry are definitely a band that gets it. The group takes choice cuts from many facets of their chosen genre and manages to mash them together into one cohesive whole. The Charnel Expanse isn’t the type of album that will floor you immediately. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed at first listen. The next time I liked it a bit more and after a few more spins it proved to be a real grower. The band certainly has the riffs and can shred their asses off when need be, but this is just as much about the layering, atmosphere and flow. That’s what makes it so good, really – although it’s a very cerebral affair, they can really slay when that’s the path they choose to descend down. 

There isn’t really one aspect here that particularly jumps out. The genius of this is how well done every little thing is. No instrument is resigned to wither away in a supporting role. Everyone is both skilled and inspired, culminating in one hell of an experience.  With their complex sound, it’s impossible to say that Zealotry is influenced primarily by one band, but Immolation is definitely high in the mix. There are also flourishes of Gorguts, The Chasm, Demilich and Morbid Angel, as well as many others. One particularly interesting channel Zealotry explores is incorporating subtle amounts of that cavernous, angular sort of Incantation tripping balls on DMT death metal that has experienced a rise in popularity lately (with bands like Portal, Antediluvian and Mitochondrion being prime examples of this sound). Although this may seem like a lot of stuff crammed into one package, their sound is seamless, coherent and is never random for the sake of being random.

The drumming is central to the sound, holding this intricately coiled package together. The drum sound is great – this is as far away as clicky triggered-to-death hogwash as you can get. It’s completely organic and perfectly set in the mix. This certainly isn’t a blast away all the time sort of band (although the dude can rock double bass like a maniac), the rhythm style is switched up often and intricate fills are plentiful. The guitar is hard to describe because there’s so much variety. From menacing lurches, to twisting tremolo, and from smatterings of vaguely melodic flourishes to blazing shredding, the group is certainly no one trick pony. Hell, there is even a few pensive clean sections. Above all, expect layering and frequent twists and turns. The bass isn’t always prominent, but it is high enough in the mix to keep the sound reasonably thick. When the bass does come bursting into the fold, it is always inspired. The production here is very dry – not as in monotonous but in that it has the type of arid feel that evokes images of bone dust scattered among charred ruins.

From the infectious tremolo melodies on the first track to the creepy church bell intro on the last, this is truly an inspired album. A maze of intricate layers, reeling twists and superior musicianship, this is a thoroughly rewarding album. Despite its cerebral nature, these guys can certainly bring the killer riffs and astonishing solos. They also have an excellent sense of flow and a strong atmosphere. Like many complex albums, The Charnel Expanse may not click right away. It didn’t for me. It’s one of those albums where the greatness creeps up on you. This album is a monolith; an enlightened beast, yet still one with razor sharp fangs. " 9/10 Originally written by Calum Fraser for Metal-Observer.com

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