REZN : Burden

REZN Burden review

I will admit it: with a band named like this in the genre they occupy, I had initially expected something much less dynamic when I first was recommended REZN years ago. I nodded politely, trusting the friend to be honest but not necessarily to have good taste, and slotted the name away in my memory without a second thought. It was only with the release of their previous album Solace, excluding briefly their collaborative record with Vinnum Sabbathi, that the burble around them began to crest closer to a low roar in, of all things, heavy progressive spaces.

That previous record was one of the best heavy and progressive records of last year, to cut to the chase. Burden is even better. As they told Treble in a recent interview, their goal was “to push into heavier territories, without going full metal.” And immediately, the richness of the sonic palette is made apparent, with a blurred mass of synthesizers and effected guitars creating a variant of the goth rock shimmering haze, the post-Pink Floyd psychedelic wall, but here buffeted by high gain guitars and bass behind as well as a drummer who, like Nick Mason, replaces wild chops with a great sense of dynamics and arrangement. There are some new tricks here; moments have a quasi-industrial feeling, reminding of the prog/industrial wing of black metal that explores its own psychedelic edge, as well as a level of malice and despondency within the tones presented here that feel often closer to traditional doom than to progressive stoner stuff they are often associated with.

The most exciting part of Burden however is not so much these independent elements, which dot the sonic landscape like stars burned into the sky as constellations, but instead the sense that these influences are coalescing into something that sounds far more distinct than it had before. The only fault of their previous records, having since gone back to take in the catalog, is that they often felt like many young bands with good taste do, an assemblage of influences that have yet to be reforged into an identity. This same path is one Elder, a band quite similar to their overall ethos if not the precise balance of elements, once walked, interpolating more classic progressive rock as well as ’80s alternative rock until they finally discovered a sound that’s wasn’t just good but their own. Here, it feels as though REZN has likewise done so themselves.

Everything from the classic heavy-metal-frilled guitar work to the almost post-metal sense of droning development to those industrialized elements to goth psychedelia act as disrupters of one another, each nudging the other just out of frame after briefly sharing spotlight. The effect is a sense of surprise around every corner, the little sonic delights that marked the great arrangement and production on classic Trevor Horn prog pop of the ’80s. It also reaffirms via the strength of this album, their best, of the power of arrangement sometimes even over songwriting, that these constructions are often what elevate catching melodies and potent riffs into something with emotional heft beyond mere sonics. Because, though love riffs I do, mere riffs are often not enough to make a compelling record. It ultimately must strike the heart. Here, REZN does.

Label: Sargent House

Year: 2024

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REZN Burden review

REZN: Burden

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