REZN – Solace Review

I admit, I avoided this band in the past because weed pun names rub me the wrong way. I have nothing against hazy plant explorations—I dabble—but you can only laugh so many times at joke titles like “Kief Castle” or Stoned Jesus. Heck I’m sure in the right state of mind I’ve even made my own joke band names.1 Chicago’s REZN isn’t here to joke around though. Eschewing comical escapism, this young quartet aims for a more conscious and guided meditation. Now four albums deep with Solace, REZN sounds as comfortable as ever with an esoteric brand of psychedelic doom that finds unique ways to incorporate each member’s talents. Synth maestro Spencer Oulette boasts credits for piano, sax, and flute, and bassist Phil Cangelosi even busts out a rainstick to set the mood. So as you settle at the basin of the mountain emerging in sunlight on this gorgeous Burke landscape, will you too find Solace?

If you’re not familiar with the whispy incensed textures of a band like OM or the jam-forward psych-splorations of a band like Elder, REZN might bend time in the wrong ways for you at first. And it really doesn’t help that REZN has chosen to make the classic intro-atmospheric mistake in running “Allured by Feverish Visions” just over 7 minutes out the gate—swelling guitar patterns that billow and threaten to burst but never quite do. Yet these same post-rock reminiscent waves crest all throughout the foggy and fluttering atmosphere that Solace offers. And once the Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) timbred vocals begin to dissolve through the fluid guitar tones and steady snare hypnosis, the remaining tunes start to unfold in a more tangible manner.

Really it’s REZNߵs ability to carefully layer exciting moments throughout the remaining contemplations that helps Solace come to light. To cut through a fuzz and drone curated much in the same way as shoegaze contemporaries Slow Crush, REZN flickers like fireflies with blaring, gain-filled guitar screams (“Possession,” “Stasis”). Similarly, trippy guitar delays and vocal filters that feel like shouts though a sage-blowing fan set the mood for the chilled and explorative moments, like the sax break on “Faded and Fleeting” and the twisted synth warps on “Possession.” And, importantly, REZN remembers to toss around a few riffs, allowing the driving “Reversal” to lend the experience enough gravitas to make the journey to the eventual crushing drum coda of “Webbed Roots” all the more clear.

However, Solace does feel a bit more flat in nature than what I would hope for true excellence in this style. Though I’ve already stated it, the extended and repetitive intro absolutely doesn’t earn every square second of real estate it hogs—REZN starts off on the wrong foot but Solace does recover. Yet despite being a journey of layers, the DR7 master—yes higher than your average ground-and-pound death metal spewing—doesn’t allow the most nuance to come through on my detailed listens on headphones and earbuds. REZN enjoys using panning tricks, volume swells, and careful guitar vibrato, which come through plenty fine (“Possession” showcases this best). This practice comes at the expense of running over the expanse of vocal dissipations (“Stasis”) and renders the dry bass signals muted at intense guitar builds (“Reversal,” “Webbed Roots”). None of these are real deal breakers—Solace still sounds great loud in the open—but it could have been that much more enveloping.

Maybe it’s for the best that REZN leans into a sound that attempts to engage as much as it does to disengage. Treading the line between calculated ambience and downtempo groove requires wisdom, one that this spry act continues to build. Solace feels like the kind of music only friends can craft, and, in the face of its minor flaws and slow start, largely remains intimate, aloof, and, breathtaking. Though you could toss this on in the background, I’d recommend instead letting this phase you gently through an afternoon traffic jam or perhaps a heavy metal yoga session.2 I may have picked up Solace a bit late in the game, and delivered this review equally so, but I’m glad I stuck with it—this sound has promise. As the first of a two-part series, I’m hoping for REZN to deliver a potentially enlightening exhale to this thoughtful and expressive inhale.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self Release
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: March 8th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Baked Blowholes Green Tide, lead single “Bongolocation.”
  2. Very good for your aging joints!
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