The Psychedelic Magic of REZN’s “Chaotic Divine” (Album Premiere)
Never underestimate the power of simple Bandcamp hunting, long an effective tool for the discovery of potent new jams directly catered to the individual’s very own search inquiries. A little over a week ago, a simple search for music tagged with “psychedelic doom metal” on my part led to me coming across Chaotic Divine, the upcoming third length from the Chicago doomsters REZN.
As my first time hearing the band, and the album not even streaming in full yet, I was nonetheless quite impressed with the two mammoth slabs of ethereal acid doom that were available for play. Hearing the album in full several days later, the initial feelings of awe and admiration only continued to climb, as I was plunged headfirst into the hallucinatory, “tripping on peyote in the Arizona desert”-type listening experience that Chaotic Divine offers. You can experience that sensation for yourself right now, as we're streaming the album ahead of its release tomorrow:
Sound wise, REZN aren’t really bringing anything that new to the table. The band’s genius lies not necessarily in the fact that they do something new well, but in that they do something old better than many of their other contemporaries. There is a plethora of doom, stoner, and psychedelic music out there to which REZN's mellow, atmospheric sound compares. But the band has an extra element that pushes their music to more gripping, emotionally satisfying territory, setting them apart from many other bands in these three genres that are simply cycling through the motions with the usual fuzz, riffs, and occasional atmospheric interludes.
It’s a bit difficult to pinpoint exactly what that "extra element” is for REZN, but if it had to be pinned down to a single word: diversity. Chaotic Divine excels in the songwriting department and the variation therein more than anything. In contrast to bands that focus either on heavy, crunchy riffs or tripped out, melodic atmosphere, REZN are simply not content with having one without the other, and ground themselves quite firmly in both areas in their compositions. The beauty of Chaotic Divine is that the band really doesn’t embrace one of these styles over the other, combining them together in more of a strong 50/50 blend than anything.
Take opener “Emerging,” for example. The track begins with a bit of a psyched out, melodic intro, but then transitions into a more straightforward stoner delivery for the large remainder of its runtime. Chaotic Divine opening with such a track may initially lead listeners to suspect that REZN are simply another “riff after riff after riff” type stoner band, but this is a bit deceptive. The group delicately skate the line here between “riffy stoner metal” and “heavy acid rock,” resulting in some tracks later in the album, such as “Mother / Forever Time” or “Optic Echo,” in which the atmosphere really dominates over the riffs.
One other notable feature of Chaotic Divine, that I actually wish REZN had used a bit more of, is… saxophone? Yes, you read that right. It’s not featured on every track, but it’s enough of an unexpected addition to the music to draw considerable attention. The sax is utilized particularly well, at first just coming into the songwriting to follow along with the main guitar melodies as an extra embellishment, before eventually branching off on its own into almost solo-like territory.
Chaotic Divine has been my first encounter with REZN, but it certainly won’t be my last, as with this album the band have definitely come through with that extra “something” that will be keeping them high on my “pay attention” list going into the future. While Chaotic Divine conjures thoughts of a lot of other bands in the doom/stoner/psych spectrum with its songwriting, there’s also something uniquely, unquestionably REZN about the music here too, something that these Chicago doomsters have that I simply don't get at nearly the same level from other bands in this realm.
Whether you mark it down to a greater performance, a feeling of more authentic energy, or just greater songwriting abilities in general, it’s certainly enough to set REZN apart from a lot of the rest of the current competition they have in the doom scene. Chaotic Divine is easily one of the most immersive, well-written albums I’ve heard all year, and one that should definitely be topping many doom fans’ year end lists.
Turn on, tune in, and drop out.
-- Sahar Alzilu
Chaotic Divine releases October 1st. Pre-orders available via Bandcamp and REZN's website.
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