When it comes to Zatokrev, I am surprisingly behind, having only discovered this band a month ago courtesy of fellow metal blog conspirators, No Clean Singing, and their showcase of the band’s music video promoting their latest album. And what a video it is. If the music for “Goddamn Lights” didn’t captivate me immediately then the warm visuals and artful filming certainly would have made me sit up and pay attention.
“Goddamn Lights” is the opener to The Bat, the Wheel and a Long Road to Nowhere and it does an excellent job of drawing you in to Zatokrev‘s sludgy, ambience-laced world of doom. The juxtaposition between straight-forward riffage and mellow, yet noisy passages really stands out and the fuzzy guitars give a very dreamlike feeling to the whole experience. In my opinion, there isn’t a better song on the album to use as a promotional tool; it reels you in and there is more than enough to keep things interesting and engaging, but at times it feels like this blueprint is followed a little too closely for the remaining eight tracks.
The best way to describe The Bat… is that it is meditative. Everything ebbs and flows with a very natural rhythm, without much to jar a steady nod of the head. It’s only when things get really atmospheric that the trance is broken for a more introspective analysis of what you’re actually listening to – “Medium”, for example, takes a good five minutes of time off for feedback-indusced euphoria before crashing to earth in a monstrous crescendo. The second part to “Feel the Fire” does the opposite by maintaining the wall of sound the whole way through. The organic, full-bodied nature of the album means it is definitely not an easy listening experience. Once you’re past the first track, this is something that you have to see out to the bloody end.
That is not to say everything beyond “Goddamn Lights” is boring or uninspiring, but rather seems to have sprung from the same well. The heavy riffs give way to ambient instrumentals like clockwork and while I am not one to complain when the irregular lurch of sludge becomes the weary tread of doom, it often feels like it drags out a little bit too long on the same passage. I find my mind wandering, not out of disinterest but because I’m just waiting for things to pull out of the dive bomb and back into the groove that came before.
On a closer analysis, The Bat, the Wheel and a Long Road to Nowhere is doom par excellance in that it is an actual challenge to listen to all the way through (and I say that with the best possible intentions) [It’s true, though. I was moss-gazing after about half the record. – AMG]. This is music to be experienced (not necessarily enjoyed) in a dark room with a glass of wine to hand and I feel that Zatokrev have latched on to the essence of doom beyond the self-indulgent head-holding of the genre. They seem to have tapped into something that feels very human and sincere and garnished it with a primal ferocity. There is something lurking beneath the surfance of The Bat, the Wheel and a Long Road to Nowhere and I really can’t wait to see if it gets brought to light in the next album.