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The Charnel Expanse
January 2014
Released: 2013, Self-released/independent
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: UK Team

Zealotry's debut album, THE CHARNEL EXPANSE, is an interesting mix of Progressive Rock and Death Metal similar to Voivod-influenced bands like Demilich and Immolation. Although I mention these bands as reference, Zealotry stands on its own among them. Chock full of dissonant guitar riffs and odd tempo signatures, the Boston, Massachusetts band prove that they master the technical chops required for this music, as well as the ability to create moody passages that counterbalance the more aggressive musical passages. It should also be mentioned that while a Technical Death Metal band, Zealotry's music is presented with a raw edge thanks to the production on this record, which means the band avoids falling into the trap of sounding too mechanical. Also, though there are fast sections in the music, the band usually prefers to use a mid-pace attack in which they fool around with odd tempos.

The record starts off with a three-part epic titled "Avatars of Contempt"; during the development and transition between all three parts, the band go from melodic Progressive Rock influenced sections to grinding dissonant parts in which guitars follow in counterpoint to each other. Restless, non-conformist drumming underneath the guitar arrangements avoids monotony, and even when the band settles on a constant simple groove, the drummer still adds fills and double bass breaks. "Blighted" offers some Jazz-influenced ideas in the rhythm section while guitars trade some Iron Maiden-style melodies on top, while "Decaying Echoes" features some outstanding bass work ala Steve DiGiorgio's finest moments. The title track has a slower tempo that adds an epic touch to the song, and is one the highlights of the record; the guitar melodies and solos on this track are simply amazing, and the drums emphasize the grandeur of the arrangements. Album close, "The Unmaking", is another highlight, with its weird vibe and a weeping guitar sound that makes the melodies here stand out.

Overall, Zealotry has released a fine record here that can be recommended for Technical Death Metal fans who also like a bit of old school touches in their music. The production may not be everybody's cup of tea, but in my opinion, it helps make the band sound less mechanical and more organic in their performance.
Track Listing

1. Avatars of Contempt, Pt. I
2. Avatars of Contempt, Pt. II
3. Avatars of Contempt, Pt. III
4. The Dysgenicists
5. Blighted
6. Decaying Echoes
7. The Charnel Expanse
8. Codex Mysterium
9. Apex Predator
10. The Unmaking


R. Temin - Vocals (lead), Guitars (rhythm)
J. Demakis - Bass
P. Tougas - Guitars (lead),Vocals (backing)

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