Semistereo - Zabriskii

(CD 2019, 49:41, Freia Music THOR50)

The tracks:
  1- Last Part Of The Trail(6:15)
  2- Leap Into Flames(5:31)
  3- Crooked Teeth Necklace(6:18)
  4- A Tale Of Ravenous Longing(5:52)
  5- Tide(6:00)
  6- Wreckage(5:21)
  7- Lethargic(6:08)
  8- South Of Sobriety Street(8:12)

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Sometimes as a reviewer, you just don't get it. In case of Semistereo's previous release; Trans Earth Injection (2017, see review), I seriously thought the band would gain some international interest. Firstly because the album was a wonderful musical journey, with great sound and compositions. Second, I thought their performance at Prog Power Europe was a very convincing one, one that could, or should open doors to a new audience. It's a pity the band did not get the recognition they deserved, although I still think TEI is a wonderful album. Nevertheless, the band returned to the studio and started working on a brand new album. First; without listening to the album, I have to credit Zabriskii's cover. A wonderful design that really stands out and immediately gets your attention. Semistereo have retained their line-up, only Max Mastraneli has taken over the position as a bass player and he is credited as piano player on the album. The other remaining musicians, for the record, are vocalist Paul Glandorf, guitarist and keyboard player Martijn Weyburg, Frank Weijers is the other guitarist and Marcel Van De Graaf keeps on hitting on stuff. But, perhaps more important, what is the music like? Personally, I think the band has become more compact, the individual members definitely found each other in the songs, which absolutely have matured.

Check out Zabriskii's opener; Last Part Of The Trail, a dark and moody composition that uses elements of post and progressive rock and fuses them into a recognizable Semistereo song. The atmospherically drone of music lays the perfect base for the intense vocals of Paul Glandorf. Subtle guitar movements are the brilliant counterparts of these vocals. During the following Leap Into Flames, Semistereo reminds me a bit of another Dutch band; Liquid Landscape. Dark, spherical, but Semistereo adds a nice and catchy vocal part, one that sticks days after listening, this small part keeps on returning in my head. Both Crooked Teeth Necklace as well as A Tale Of Ravenous Longing are slower tracks, both compositions are intense and Paul is challenged to use the higher registers. Something he does really well. Tide, at first seems to be a little bit chaotic, perhaps too many ideas combined into one song. But several listens later the song has landed and especially the smooth middle part and the marvellous guitar solo make this track stand out. Due to the heavy riffing on Wreckage this might be the heaviest composition on the album. Again, on this track it are some vocal parts that really do it; catchy, melodic and the perfect counterpart for the dark post atmosphere. Although Lethargic kicks off with a lot of power, the song itself is a relative smooth track that focusses on great guitar sounds, a dedicated bass and fine rhythmic drums. Zabriskii ends with an almost pure post rock composition; South Of Sobriety Street. A brilliant song where delicate mesmerizing vocal parts are used, over wonderful guitars parts and a solid rhythm section. Different from the rest, but an amazing track.

Semistereo, returns with an even more intense album as their previous one. I really hope Zabriskii brings them the recognition they deserve. This album is perhaps not for the average prog listener, but if you like intense music with a wonderful vocalist, you should try this one. Zabriskii is and unpolished diamond, ready to shine.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Dave Smith)

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