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Review : Zealotry - The Last Witness by Sputnik Music

Via Sputnik Music : "The second verse from The Last Witness’ title track doubles as both a literary device and as a projection of my own thoughts towards the album, itself. It is a serpentine tale of woe on both musical and lyrical levels, detailing the arrival of an unknowable force, our failure to heed its ultimatum, the ensuing corruption of mankind and the eventual absorption of our minds, bodies and souls. Labelling The Last Witnessas “tortured” is right on multiple levels, because in addition to being a rigorous aural challenge, the first-person take in the latter stages casts the listener as being the sole survivor forced to watch humanity’s decline. No, the titular role doesn’t belong to the all-seeing behemoth adorning the cover; “The Last Witness” is you and this album is your Hell.

“Arc of Eradication” is little more than a foreshadowing of things to come, as the horrors that lie ahead are yet to materialise and the mood is decidedly less than gloomy than that of what follows. Dissonant and contrapuntal as they may be, the riffs jostle about in an almost playful manner, as if our subjects are wilfully unaware of their impending fate. “Heralding The Black Apostle” is exactly as its name suggests, and it marks the point at which The Last Witness makes a dramatic tone shift. Choral vocals, which are set to reappear in tracks to come, lay low on this occasion, lending the song a subtly theistic vibe and instilling a sense of awe. The line, “captivated by the glorious oddity”, describes the weak-willed masses as they are drawn to this so-called apostle – like moths to a halogen bulb, their fate is sealed in merely perceived bliss. A solo erupts, sounding like an excerpt from Pestilence’s “Dehydrated”, if only it had been written by Demilich. Though brief, its impact is difficult to overstate.

The demented lead work continues to make itself known at all the right times, whether it’s the flashier stylings of “Yliaster” or the more minimalistic, whammy-centric approach of “Cybernetic Eucharist”. Pat Tougas and Roman Temin obviously know their instruments like the backs of their hands, but their musicianship is coupled with poise. Even the choral bombast of “Progeny Omega’s” climax serves its purpose, theatrically detailing the height of the conflict between the righteous and the corrupted. It’s interesting that the album’s loftiest track would end in the most orthodox manner, then. The riff that underpins the closing solo is simple, infectious and consonant, invoking Ulcerate’s “Soullessness Embraced” not necessarily in terms of style, but in methodology. The guitars hinge on dissonant intervals to such an extent that the appearance of an ostensibly “normal” riff feels like a kick to the chest, as opposed to any kind of hook or relief mechanism. Indeed, the band’s penchant for unusual compositional techniques is one of their most valuable assets.

“Silence” epitomises this sentiment, featuring an array of auxiliary instrumentation such as acoustic guitar, cello, vaguely present synth lines and ominous chimes. It’s only appropriate that it rounds the album off on an achingly solemn note, with the aural supplements doing the subject matter justice aplenty. After all, this is the point at which humanity has ceased to be, “at one with abstraction”, “languish[ing] in infinite regret … with no monument to mark our passing”. This is your unending reality as “The Last Witness”, and “Silence” is your soliloquy. As unmissable as it is morbid, Zealotry’s latest opus will consume you in more ways than one." 4.5./5

Originally written by Jacquibim for

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